Just read a great post called Tackle Violence At Work, which outlines legislation relating to violence and bullying at work, and serves as a reminder that violence takes many disguises, including non-physical bullying.
According to Bully Online, the motive common to all bullies is a personal need to control others. Half of all bullies are women. Women bullies target women 84% of the time; men target women 69% of the time, making women the majority of targets in the workplace. The vast majority of bullies (81%) are managers and bosses. The common personality traits of targeted employees are individuals with a:
- desire to cooperate
- non-confrontational interpersonal style
To ensure that we can all identify the symptoms, and understand the need to deal effectively with bullying in the workplace the Tackle Violence At Work article includes:
- five main pieces of health and safety legislation which are relevant to violence at work
- five things to consider before any incident of violence occurs
- five links to useful resources, including victims support organizations
Every individual reacts differently to bullying behavior, depending on their personality and life experiences. Most victims of workplace bullying will experience at least some of the following effects:
- Stress, anxiety, sleep disturbance
- Ill health, headaches, heart palpitations, or fatigue
- Panic attacks or impaired ability to make decisions
- Incapacity to work, concentration problems, loss of self-confidence and reduced performance at work
- Depression or sense of isolation
- Deteriorating relationships with family, friends or co-workers
Violence at work can take many forms, and the bullying can be quite subtle and covert. In some cases the perpetrator may be a manager who does not even understand that their behavior really is bullying. What passes for management style, may just be another way of glossing over bulling behavior, which is just another form of violence at work. Do you know anyone who is:
- Obsessed with the past
- Has low expectations of everybody
- Constantly interfering, dictating and controlling
These are often symptoms of someone with a low self esteem, one of the characteristic of most bullies. Do you know anyone who behaves like this? They may not even know that they exhibit these characteristics, or be aware that these are subtle symptoms of a bullying manager. You may recognize these traits in your manager, or someone close to you. You may even know them intimately! How about:
- Favors weaker employees, recruits henchmen and toadying types
- Inconsistent, always critical, singles people out, shows favoritism
- Withholds information, releases selectively, uses information as a weapon
- Includes and excludes people selectively
- Exhibits hypocrisy and duplicity
Obviously we would never apply these characteristics to ourselves! But are there any behaviors we display which other people might incorrectly attribute to us? Once again these are classic signs of a workplace bully, which may masquerade as a distinct management style.
Finally, as managers, how about some out and out management behaviors which unquestionably separate a bully from a good manager:
- Recruiting only like minded individuals (back to henchmen and toadying types, and identifying with clones)
- Abdicating responsibility in the guise of delegation
- Being economical with the truth, using dissembling, distortion and fabrication to avoid telling the truth, such as bad news
Recognize anyone there?
Bullying at work cost UK industries a great deal, although the specific amounts vary depending on the source. On thing is clear, bullying is a form of violence, and must not be tolerated at work. If we learn to identify the signs in others and ourselves, we can all tackle violence at work, and make the workplace safer more productive environment.
Additional resources to help with bullying and violence at work: