How to Identify and Deal with Bullying at Work

Bullying is making a lot of headlines these days . . . but most of the bullying we hear of happens between children. Unfortunately, adults bully, too, and it is likely that at some point in your career you will be faced with this tough situation. If you are a manager, then you must be accountable for the bullying of others on your team, whether you are involved or not, and that is a huge responsibility. So, what can you, as a manager, do about bullying on the job? Here are some pointers for how to identify and deal with bullying at work:

What is bullying? Bullying is the systematic degradation of a person for any reason. While in some cases, bullying is physical, oftentimes bullying is more insipid. It can come in the form of insults, threats, sexual harassment, embarrassing social media posts, or even rumor spreading. In the workplace, look for those employees who seem to be condescending or snide at meetings, as well as the employees who seem to be afraid of speaking up. You may have some undercover bullying in the office.

When to become involved. Any time you are aware of bullying, it is your responsibility to see to it that it comes to an end, at least in the work place. Of course, bullying is a sensitive subject, and it is likely even more so when adults are involved. When in doubt, your best bet is to keep the victim’s well-being in mind and step in whenever you feel that well-being is infringed upon.

What to do about bullying. Start with a clear company policy that outlines the definition of bullying, as well as the consequences. When you see that bullying is occurring, you should speak to the perpetrator in private, and explain that you will not allow for bullying in the workplace. Be very specific about the specific instances of bullying you know of. After the first warning, the bullying should end. If not, you should commence with the consequences outlined in the action plan – the ultimate consequence being termination.

When it is out of your hands. Of course, there is no fool-proof method for ending bullying, and you may run into the predicament of not being able to fully eradicate the situation at hand. If that is the case, there are outside resources you can draw upon to step in where you can’t. If you know that the bullying is physical (or even threatening of physicality), damaging to a person’s emotional health, or even a threat to someone’s personal belongings, then you can involve local law enforcement to put an end to the bullying.

Bullying is not only disruptive in the work place – it is also destructive to your employees on a large scale. Even adults are susceptible to bullying, so you must be on the lookout for it in your workplace, and ready to take action when you see it.

About the Author: Darius Huh is a part-time human resources consultant who works with various New York coworking offices and small businesses. He recommends all businesses have written policies against bullying and inappropriate behavior.

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