Thu, March 29th, 2012 - 5:09 am - By Gordon Basichis
Bullying seems to be the new buzzword. Be it in the schoolyard or on the job, there are increased outcries about one person trying to dominate another through intimidation. Most of the time the intimidation employed is psychological. But often enough it is physical as well. It is nothing to minimize, but then by the reaction of some, it would appear bullying only recently appeared on the scene. With the plethora of articles, seminars, workshops, and panel discussions, bullying or its discussion has moved from its place as nasty perennial to a cottage industry. Between funding projects and liability issues, in one form or another there is money in the emerging bullying industry.
I have written about bullying on a number of occasions. One such article was entitled, Canadian Researchers to Study the Effects on Males in Workplace Bullying. Aside from writing about it, I have my own impressions on bullying , base don my own experiences growing up in a less than ideal neighborhood. Bullies respond to fear. Scare a bully and you will find quite often its a bully no more. I remember more than one occasion where several formerly intimidated ganged up on a bully and achieved the results that others were seeking in vain through dialogue and explanations.
However, most of the world is not the schoolyard. And even the schoolyard is tilted to behavior that would seem at outset more appealing, despite the lack of results. But in the workplace, especially, you can’t go punching out your co-workers. You just can’t. I know…sometimes you would like to. But you can’t.
So there you are facing the one who wants to intimidate and run you down. Workplace bullying is destructive to morale and overall production. Janine N. Truitt, who writes under the name “Czarina of HR,” has written an interesting piece in Toolbox.com. She writes how bullying at one office she worked led to a steady departure of qualified employees. Clients take note of sudden departures and it doesn’t do much to instill confidence in customer loyalty.
Simply put, people didn’t want to deal with the nonsense. Can’t blame them. Truitt cautions to watch for a steady flow of departures. To monitor exit interviews that cite workplace bullying as the reason for leaving. It’s no joke, she cautions. Schoolyard bullies evolve, if that is the correct description, into workplace bullies. Here you are a dedicated employee on an ambitious career track dealing with the same intimidating nonsense you had to deal with as a kid. One most wonder if it ever ends.
In her article, Truitt writes the following…”I’m not a huge proponent of increased litigation where HR practices are concerned. However, workplace bullying legislation is one I am in favor of. It is way too prevalent and damaging to individuals. It is easily masked, especially when it is not a matter of protected class discrimination. Therefore, filing an EEOC or a Department of Human Rights claim is a waste of time (at least this is the case in NY state).”
She admonishes that leadership must be properly trained and held accountable for their actions in the workplace. I would hope so. Although the basic trouble with workplace bullies is they will continue their practices until either someone or the management determines to take them down. In the age of the global economy and stringent competition, and with enough on the plate, it’s incredibly counter productive to have to deal with workers who are compelled to make life miserable for others. Stronger measures need to be taken.