Workplace bullying isn’t a personality problem – it’s a leadership problem. It’s the managers, supervisors and department heads who help establish the organisational culture of a business. If they’re calm, enthusiastic, respectful, collaborative and good listeners, the rest of the workforce will follow suit. The behavioural climate of an organisation is largely determined by their awareness of bullying, the steps they take to prevent it and the methods they use to deal with any incidents that crop up.
Inaction by management only encourages bullies to see how much further they can push the aggression. To prevent bullying, a manager must be proactive in providing (and participating in) anti-bullying training. Management should be observant and emotionally intelligent, constantly ‘taking the pulse’ of workplace climate so they know when cracks start to appear. Above all, they must lead by example.
Statistics show that when business leaders focus on organisational culture instead of the personalities of individual bullies and their targets, their anti-bullying efforts are much more effective. Waiting until conflicts reach the multiple complaint stage is like waiting for a cancer to spread a little more before beginning treatment.
Want to determine whether bullying is more or less likely to flourish in a particular workplace? Look closely at the managers – their positive (or negative) effect on employee morale, talent acquisition and staff retention will often tell the story.
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