What is one tip to help identify and manage workplace bullying?
To help recognize bullying in the workplace and what to do if it’s uncovered, we asked HR experts and business leaders this question for their best advice. From training leaders on conflict resolution to identifying different forms of bullying, there are several suggestions that may help you see signs of bullying and take action.
Here are 14 tips for identifying and managing bullying:
- Train Leaders on Conflict Resolution
- Develop Your Workforce
- Recognize Different Forms of Bullying
- Address the Situation Right Away
- Introduce a Policy that Outlines Bullying Behaviors
- Pay Attention to Overly Harsh Criticism
- Implement a Zero-Tolerance Policy
- Document and Report Bullying
- Check for Signs of Isolation
- Look for the Undermining of Contributions
- Stay Aware of Excessive, Unscheduled Meetings
- Focus on Situational Avoidance
- Offer Lines of Anonymous Communication
- Remain in Constant Vigilance
Train Leaders on Conflict Resolution
The most effective approach to identifying and managing workplace bullying is to train the managers and leaders on how to look for signs of it and nip it in the bud. A bully — no matter the environment — is usually afraid to be held accountable for their actions by a higher authority.
In the workplace, if company leaders and managers consistently implement a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, monitor abusive behavior, and reprimand such activities, it will send a strong message to everyone. Training managers on conflict resolution, de-escalation, and other team issues can also go a long way in ensuring that there is mutual respect between team members.
So, on the one hand, they can stop such behavior, and on the other, they can cultivate desirable values and cultures to drive the behavior they want. When leaders respect everyone in the team and demonstrate value for everyone's unique identity and contribution, it leaves little scope for others to get away with bullying.
Joe Flanagan, VelvetJobs
Develop Your Workforce
It is important to focus on training and development. Organizations that provide clear roadmaps of how an individual can progress will sustain fulfillment levels. Bullying usually happens when one employee feels like they are stuck in one area for their career. Everyone likes to know there is room for them to grow.
Olivia Young, Conscious Items
Recognize Different Forms of Bullying
It is crucial for an individual to know workplace bullying types and common signs of workplace bullying. For example, workplace bullying can take the form of verbal abuse, excessive monitoring, intimidation, and false accusations. Some common signs of workplace bullying are being denied time off without any valid reasons, receiving physical threats, being told false deadlines about projects, and facing false accusations.
To manage workplace bullying:
- Keep track of the events: Note the date, time, and save physical evidence related to the events.
- Share with a confidant: Let someone you trust know about the incidents.
- Report the incident to senior authorities: Report the incident to senior authorities with a proper track record.
- Seek legal help if needed: If complaints aren’t addressed properly in the company, seek legal help.
Jessica Robinson, The Speaking Polymath
Address the Situation Right Away
Having positive relationships within a company is incredibly important for the overall success of the team. If you've noticed signs of potential bullying within the workplace, it's important to always address the situation as soon as possible.
Alert your HR department and the appropriate manager and coordinate how you will address the employees involved. It's also a great idea to implement anti-bullying seminars to help prevent these situations in the future.
Jacob Dayan, Community Tax
Introduce a Policy Outlining Bullying Behaviors
If you’re looking to identify and manage workplace bullying, the first thing you may want to do is to consciously avoid covering it up or otherwise turning your head the other way. After all, if it goes unmanaged, workplace bullying can torpedo company-wide performance and generally create a toxic culture, which will drive away your best people.
Now, one of the best ways to deal with bullying is to introduce a policy that outlines bullying behaviors, ways they can manifest, and most importantly, the repercussions for breaching it. In parallel, it’s equally critical to foster transparency at your organization, so employees are more likely to be raw with their direct managers and HR when bullying emerges.
Magda Klimkiewicz, Zety
Pay Attention to Overly Harsh Criticism
Criticism that is overly harsh and goes beyond what would be considered normal, constructive criticism is a sign of bullying. For example, if a manager berates an employee for a mistake instead of showing them how to perform a task properly, that could be considered a case of bullying.
Randi Shinder, SBLA
Implement a Zero-Tolerance Policy
Prevention is always better than cure and having a policy that strictly condemns workplace bullying is the first step in making your organization a safer place. The next step is making your workforce aware of these policies and everything they entail.
Furthermore, it's important for the management to highlight the confidential processes through which employees can voice their concerns freely, without any worry of backlash.
Riley Beam, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.
Document and Report Bullying
Be sure to document any bullying that happens to you and report it to a manager. It may start as something little that you do not wish to report right away, so keep a record of anything that happens.
This way you have proof to show your boss of the bullying that has been going on. As a manager it is important to take these claims seriously. Look at the documentation the employee has provided and do a thorough deep dive into the matter.
Justin Chan, June Shine
Check for Signs of Isolation
Not all of us have the same character, nor do we relate to others in the same way, but it is rare for an employee to be isolated in a healthy, cohesive work environment.
Try to observe, ask questions and find out what is going on and if that person may be suffering harassment. Keep in mind that victims often cannot cope with the situation, either because they are psychologically defeated or afraid of losing their job.
Maciej Kubiak, PhotoAiD
Look for the Undermining of Contributions
A subtle yet common form of bullying is when a team member's efforts are frequently ridiculed, undermined, or blatantly ignored, even when they're putting in the hard work. This sort of bullying can sometimes go unnoticed since the bully often tries to brush their behavior under the rug under the guise of "constructive criticism."
To effectively manage and prevent such personal attacks, organizations should not only have policies and codes of conduct but also train their core team to recognise signs and patterns of workplace bullying.
Larissa Pickens, Worksion
Stay Aware of Excessive, Unscheduled Meetings
One tip to identify workplace bullying is if your superior asks to meet multiple times a week without a clear reason or agenda. Specifically, most employee bullying is caused by an inherent hierarchical imbalance wherein a manager feels obligated to assume their power or dominion over others for no particular reason. As such, the earliest sign of this is an incessant amount of meetings that seemingly have no agenda or purpose besides being overly critical of an employee.
To combat this, kindly ask your superior for an agenda 24 hours prior to the meeting so that you can discuss, analyze, and efficiently strategize beforehand. This will not only force your superior to come prepared, but it will also encourage two-way dialogue and communication.
David Wolfe, Olivers Apparel
Focus on Situational Avoidance
Be on the lookout for any employees who may be avoiding specific employees or all communal spaces completely. This is a sign that they feel uncomfortable in those spaces or around people who are in the workplace.
If you see this behavior, check in with this employee. Ask the employee if there is anything going on between themself and the possible bully. Then figure out a way to help them resolve this issue.
Liz Tomic, Flying Embers
Offer Lines of Anonymous Communication
Workplace bullying should not be tolerated in any form, which is why it’s important to offer anonymous methods for your employees to supply feedback and information. Some team members may not be comfortable identifying a bully due to fear of retribution.
Therefore, keeping an open-door policy and allowing your employees to communicate anonymously may help create a process to deal with any situations that make others uncomfortable — or may even be potentially harmful.
Marc Atiyeh, Pawp
Remain in Constant Vigilance
A single tip that is of utmost importance when identifying and managing workplace bullying is to be vigilant. It is important to constantly be on the lookout for even the most minute changes in your employees’ behaviors. Something as simple as them being quieter than usual can be a giveaway.
Once identified, offering emotional support by listening to their side of the story, taking necessary actions according to the direness of the situation, and keeping a check on them later as well, is the best way to manage it. Therefore, it is necessary to always be on the lookout for behaviors that might be different than usual and help them with it.
Shagoon Maurya, ursafespace