Bullying can never last long in a workplace infused with strong leadership and cultural integrity.
Numerous studies have confirmed that the relationship between an employee and their immediate supervisor is the biggest predictor of staff turnover in a workplace. People don’t leave a job, they leave a manager.
Supportive managers who foster mutual respect attract better talent and save a business time, money and the need to replace fed-up employees constantly. However, when there’s an abusive manager around, good people leave—even when attractive pay, job satisfaction and chances for promotion are present.
Want to identify hidden pockets of bullying in your organisation? Take a good, hard look at your staff retention figures, especially after there’s been a manager change.
A workplace bully is the ultimate killer of staff retention. In places where leaders turn a blind eye to bullying, a self-perpetuating cycle often occurs:
Emotionally distressed employees make more mistakes, are more likely to be absent due to stress, and are more prone to workplace injuries. Associate Professor Bill Sutton of Stanford University determined that workplace productivity can decline as much as 40% when workers have to cope with the distractions of bullying.
Think about that figure for a moment. Can your business afford that kind of epic loss?
Bullies are opportunists. They thrive in environments where strong leadership is absent.
The intimidating ‘my way or the highway’ leadership style is a recipe for disaster and results in employees who are incapable of doing their best work. How can they, when ongoing harassment has left them angry, distracted, afraid and emotionally confused?
As a business leader, if you’re shuffling bullying into the too-hard basket, failing to recognise it when it occurs or neglecting to take strong and immediate action to combat it, you’re part of the problem.
So how can you become a more effective anti-bullying leader in your workplace?
In every workplace, the organisational culture is established by the leaders–for better or worse.
The difference between a leader and a manager is that a manager dictates, while a leader provides support and direction to allow employees to perform at their peak. The most productive employees feel valued, listened to and respected.
A true leader’s most important skills are to observe, to listen, to value and to be constantly mindful of the emotional environment they’re fostering in the workplace. They must be self-aware and focused. A workplace leader is either part of the bullying problem or part of the solution.
An effective leader’s management style should spark discussion, not stifle it. It should include others in decision-making processes and respect alternative viewpoints.
Leadership isn’t about domination, threats or coercion. Instead, it’s about empathy, negotiation and compromise—and when it’s done right, it brings out the best in everyone because they feel supported.
Bullying thrives in a climate where leadership falters. Choosing to do nothing about workplace bullying is leadership failure—and from a cost-benefit perspective, there’s no upside to keeping a serial bully around.
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.
Please share with like-minded colleagues who can benefit from our insights and get social with us.