What does an organization do to create a Bully-Free at Work culture?
Question: What is a Bully-Free at Work culture?
Answer: The best way to get the truth about anything is to ask your customers. In this case, you would ask your staff on a scale of 1-5 ‘Do you feel the culture is Bully-Free’? If the response was less than a ‘5’, you would ask ‘What would make it a ‘5’?’.
Question: So what is the difference between a bullying situation or a difficult person situation? How do I know if it is bullying?
Answer: While there is no official or agreed-upon definition of workplace bullying, most contend is that bullying is deliberate, disrespectful, repeated behavior toward a target for the bully’s gain. It means yes, the bully is intentional and knows what they are doing.
Question: How do I know for sure if it is workplace bullying?
Answer: It is best to accurately document when the bullying happened, what happened, who was involved, how it made you feel and also list the aspect of how you felt the behavior was disrespectful. Showing many incidences of disrespectful behavior toward you, well documented, is a start.
Question: Can workplace bullying policies help?
Answer: I firmly believe workplace bullying policies are a must.Without them, people are not empowered. But be aware: even if a company or organization has a workplace bullying policy, the bully will still have tactics to move around such guidelines; so leaders and targets must be aware and plan not to be out-smarted by the bully. In addition, many policies fall short in requiring the documentation outlining the consequences of workplace bullying behavior. As I mentioned in the Globe and Mail (Click here to read article) (June 15th), policies and laws are a definite help AND they are only as strong as the people’s accountability to them.
Question: Can going to HR help?
Answer: That depends. HR, unions and senior managers are often not trained or rewarded for dealing with workplace bullying issues. Many HR managers express to me: “I’d like to help but I don’t know what to do; I’m caught in the middle because I cannot hold the bully accountable.”
Question: If we could wave a magic wand, how might an organization go about implementing a Bully-Free at Work culture?
Answer: It is complicated and it is simple. It is simple if the senior level decision makers believe this is a good thing to do and will stand behind the policies. It is more difficult if you do not have the majority of the key people on board. Similar to any large decision-making pool, it then becomes more about leadership and influence.
Question: Why do attempts to stop workplace bullying not really work?
Answer: You need senior level decision makers to ‘own’ the problem. Stopping workplace bullying must be the responsibility of everyone in an organization. The target must keep an accurate log of repeated events to support their case in order to avoid a ‘tail wagging the dog’ complaint structure many organizations are afraid of. The senior management must first believe in ‘people, then profits’ when it comes to workplace bullying situations and put proper resources into standing behind this belief. Training for managers on how to support targets as well as accountability skills for the entire organization in order to hold the bully accountable are necessary steps in this process. The bully will never be accountable; they will only adhere to consequences put forth by those who can enforce the consequences.
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Valerie Cade, CSP is a Workplace Bullying Expert, Speaker and Author of "Bully Free at Work: What You Can Do To Stop Workplace Bullying Now!" which has been distributed in over 100 countries worldwide. For presentations and consulting on workplace bullying prevention and respectful workplace implementation, go to http://www.BullyFreeAtWork.com
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