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Is Your Anti-Bullying Policy Enough?

Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.

Benjamin Disraeli, Count Alarcos: A Tragedy Act IV, sc. i (1839)

Having a solid anti-bullying policy in place is a good starting point for every business. But how efficiently is that policy being enforced? Also, how much anti-bullying training did your managers and employees receive?

An effective anti-bullying policy should include:

  • Clear definitions of workplace bullying.
  • Specific guidelines on the individual responsibilities of managers and employees when confronted with bullying.
  • Education of staff regarding the negative effects that bullying has on morale, cohesion and productivity.
  • Precisely defined consequences/penalties for non-compliance.
  • A commitment to confronting bullying behaviours immediately so there’s minimal delay between incident and appropriate action.
  • A zero-tolerance approach to workplace bullying in any form.
  • Prioritising employee happiness, health and well-being.
  • A simple system for employees to report bullying incidents.

However, 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.

Being in a position of authority, managers are often the most effective bullying deterrents in any workplace. 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.

How they react to bullying incidents can affect the entire culture of the organisation. Further, they ultimately impact profitability, talent acquisition and retention, brand reputation and employee trust.

Are you a Proactive or Reactive Manager?

Workplace bullying isn’t a personality problem—it’s a leadership problem. 

Correctly dealing with negative workplace behaviours is one of the most important tasks a manager faces, with implications reaching far beyond the individual events themselves. 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. Above all, they must lead by example.

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.

Managers must constantly ‘take the pulse’ of the workplace climate, so they know when cracks start to appear. Waiting until conflicts reach the multiple complaint stage is like waiting for a cancer to spread a little more before beginning treatment. 

The pointy end of the Anti-Bullying Spear

Being a good manager means taking ownership of the workplace climate. It also means ensuring everyone is on the same zero-tolerance page when it comes to bullying.

A manager in a busy workplace can be a bit like being a detective. In order to get a feel for the ‘emotional climate’, you must listen and observe. You also have to ask the right questions and ‘read between the lines’—especially with bullying.

Quite often, a bullying target will have a legitimate fear of retaliation that keeps them quiet about their victimisation. In which case, circumstantial evidence may be all there is to go on.

Bullying can quickly gain a foothold if your staff don’t feel empowered to address negative behaviours. Moreover, there can be many unknown restraints preventing a victim from raising their concerns.

Managers must closely monitor the overall ‘vibe’ to detect when negativity starts to creep in. It’s not enough to know that something should be done—you must know exactly what to do.

Bullyology® is passionate about raising awareness on the effects of bullying and helping people break the silence. If you would like to book us for a training course or speaking event, please get in touch.

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