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Workplace Bullies and What To Do

As always, be sure to share this newsletter with your Team Leads and Senior Leaders in your company. But remember, the responsibility of creating a great workplace also lies with you.

We hear stories of toxic workplace cultures, and sometimes it may be difficult to label bullying. It can also be difficult to speak up or deal with it, especially where the bully and the victim's relationship is a superior-subordinate one.

Bullying is personal harassment in its most basic form. It is any behaviour that creates an intimidating and offensive work environment for a person or group. It can be:

  • a colleague intimidating you or spreading malicious rumours about you.

  • a Team Lead belittling your opinions and deliberately undermining your work.

  • a Senior Leader(s) in the organisation physically abusing you or threatening to abuse you.

  • Inappropriate comments or intimidation tactics.

While bullying may occur as an isolated incident, it is important to watch out for bullying patterns.

Let’s take a peek at Company XYZ.

There have been whispers of bullying and intimidation at Company XYZ for some time but there were no official records. It took a People Lead joining XYZ to observe patterns of bullying across the company. Cases of aggression and intimidation by a certain manager sprung up with the behaviour worsening when it wasn’t addressed. When a formal investigation was launched by the People Lead, they noticed a trend of consistent misconduct that had affected his team’s performance and confidence levels.

His case, as well as others, highlighted the need for urgent company-wide workplace sessions on sexual and non-sexual harassment. The sessions created awareness, promoted conversations on workplace harassment and provided a clear action for instances of misconduct. These led to new workplace behaviour policies, focusing on the XYZ’s values.

Action points as a Team Lead or Senior Leader

  • Create and/or understand workplace behaviour policies.

  • Be willing to take action steps against bullying and other poor workplace behaviours.

  • Focus on reinforcing company values and behaviours.

  • Ensure all employees are trained on workplace harassment.

  • Train leaders to manage and build collaborative teams.

  • Provide a clear reporting process.

Action points as an Employee

  • Depending on the nature of the incident and the perpetrator, you may choose to address and resolve the issue with the perpetrator. If you are not comfortable doing this and/or the bullying persists;

  • Make a formal complaint to the People Manager and go through the process.

  • Take legal action where no action is taken to curb the bully.

It is possible for bullying behaviours to resurface in a company, hence the need for close monitoring of such behaviours and a commitment to building positive work cultures.


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