Discovering People

     How to handle workplace Bullies

    A crucial element in the smooth running of any workplace is that employees liase with each other in a professional and considerate manner. Unfortunately for many companies this is not always the case, and may result in bullying becoming an issue.

    In order for employees to work effectively both quantitatively and qualitatively they need to feel comfortable in the workplace. Whilst a lot of employers recognise the need to provide a safe and ergonomic workplace, psychological factors that are equally important are not always being addressed.

    A study undertaken by "Human Resources", December 2001, has shown that it must be recognised that bullying can occur in a variety of ways. Bullying can be initiated by an "individual" or a "group", and can be defined by a number of different actions. The best guide being to treat a fellow employee with the respect and dignity that one would expect in return. Further, the research shows that bullying needs to be seen as more than just a personality clash; it is stated:

    "Another common misconception organisations and managers have is that bullying is motivated by the individual rather than by the organisation".

    Thus highlighting the need for self-reflection on the part of the company to determine its contribution to the situation.

    Communication is a key factor in avoiding a bullying situation. Problems recognised early are more easily dealt with. Furthermore, minimising the fuss with which a problem is solved is also shown to be advantageous. Above all the study shows that simply dismissing the "bully" does not solve the problem, long-term "strategies" are the only solution.

    The bullying checklist


    • identify the problem behaviour accurately
    • check organisational causes for stress
    • develop a consistent strategy for dealing with the behaviour
    • involve all parties and act promptly – understand that both the bullied and bully need help
    • get external help or support if unsure of causes
    • treat mistakes as learning opportunities to treat people respectfully


    • assume if you "get rid" of the problem individual the issue will be solved
    • isolate or ignore the bully
    • rely on complaints to act

    Source-Human Resources December 2001


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