Bullies Not Welcome in the Workplace

Ask anyone you like whether they have ever worked with a bully and the answer will be a resounding, “Yes, of course!”
Bullies have been a part of our workplace fabric for generations.
We know so much more about them these days thanks to  Andrea Adams exposing the issue of workplace bullying so publicly back in the early 1990’s.
The research continues to tell us that they are there among us.  The research also tells us that there is so much more that we can be doing to deal with the problem.
So how is it that they have been allowed to survive (and in many cases actually thrive) within our workplaces?
It comes down to the breakdown of four systems within the working environment. And they all have to do with accountability of one sort or another.

  1. Personal Accountability
  2. Peer Accountability
  3. Supervisor Accountability
  4. Formal Discipline

Think about this list for a second. And ask yourself this question: “What does your workplace look like when you hold it up against the list?”

  1. Do individuals exercise personal accountability? We are not just talking about the bully here but also the victim of the bullying.
  2. Do witnesses to the bullying exercise accountability? Do they say something? Or do they turn their heads away, grateful that it wasn’t them this time.
  3. What are your supervisors doing about what is going on? Are they being accountable and exercising their influence or authority?
  4. What about the formal discipline process? Is it used to deal with the bully? Has it ever been used to deal with a bully?

You see, when we look at our workplaces and see that the bully not only survives but sometimes even thrives; any one of those four systems would have stopped the bully at some point.
The fact that the bully is still there (most victims and peers actually leave first) means that not one but all four of those systems have failed.
That is why some research actually shows that workplace bullying is getting worse not better. Sorry.