Experience of Workplace Bullying
Since leaving employment to run my own business, I have discovered the real benefits of being my own boss.
When in employment, I was confronted by three workplace bullies, in three separate organisations and job roles, all of which were my managers. At the time, it was very distressing; it shattered my confidence, and gave me a feeling of inadequacy. I felt I had to work twice as hard to achieve just a smidgeon of what was demanded because of the dysfunction in management.
In all three cases, jealousy and insecurity drove these managers to bully. I was deemed too popular, too considerate, too conscientious, and too competent; and over time, I had successfully built up some highly effective interpersonal and behavioural skills, so I was seen as a threat to these managers because my positive qualities inadvertently attracted unfavourable comparison with their own inadequacies.
Often or not Performance Appraisals were delayed or postponed; weekly team meetings began to dissipate; workloads increased; unreasonable demands were set; all sense of work control taken away; job roles altered and often replaced with menial tasks: and all executed with a complete lack of understanding or consultation. I felt unvalued, unsupported, undermined and miserable, in work-roles, I had once enjoyed and totally achieved in!
How Significant is the Problem?
Many businesses and organisations shockingly fall short of recognising that the behaviour and culture of leaders and managers directly affect the workplace environment. Too many employers are quite unaware of the gaps existing between an employee’s experience of the workplace, and the organisational culture in which the employer strives to create.
Many talented employees leave organisations because of bullying, but employers rarely recognise that this may be because of a deeper problem in the workplace. In fact workplace bullying not only causes significant damage to an employee, it also creates damage to the employer, resulting in significantly higher sickness rates; higher stress breakdowns; lower morale; higher employee turnover; and in some cases increased suicide attempts.
The highest enquiries to my business about dealing with workplace bullying are consistently from those in the public sector – Workers in the Charity or Not-for-Profit sector; Teachers and Lecturers; Local Government Workers; Nurses and Healthcare Workers – There is little help and support from trade union officials, and some company’s personnel is ineffective because some bullying managers have many friends in the HR department who may block grievance procedures before they even begin.
The National Bullying Helpline states “80% of managers know that bullying occurs in their workplace, and despite this, 37% say they have had no proper training”. The Andrea Adams Consultancy developed a factsheet on Bullying Statistics, which states “43.5% of employers do not even have a policy to deal with workplace bulling, and 82.2% say that weakness in management is the prime reason for bullying.”
A positive workplace culture starts from the top; therefore, there should be an effective manager’s code in all workplaces, which sets out the standards and expectations of behaviour and development. This code should be geared towards helping leaders to focus on building a three-way partnership between themselves, the workforce and the organisation. It would be better for them to step out of their offices more and essentially connect with their workforce; as this would help to create more of an atmosphere of confidence and trust, where employees actively experience their leaders:
- effectively encouraging and supporting staff in their work;
- building and sustaining openness and communication;
- valuing their employees and improving quality;
- demonstrating appropriate and effective interactions;
- showing intellectual flexibility;
- understanding and participating in health and wellbeing activities;
- contributing in building a strong mental health policy where staff are able to ask for help without fear of shame, humiliation or judgement.
When this manager’s code is embedded, it brings together a workplace culture that consistently produces outstanding results, it helps to retain and attract the best talent, and it motivates and energises staff into positive action enabling them to adapt to changes more comfortably.
Managers have a responsibility to encourage staff to feel inspired by enabling them to use their strengths, and being committed to sharing and applying learning and knowledge. Being an effective manager is not just a learned quality, it is a real gift. It brings Management to a different level and enables staff to perform at their optimum; to healthily contribute and engage with their organisation; and to develop a strong sense of professional satisfaction and fulfilment.