You might not hear that much about workplace bullying, but it is a serious issue. Bullying doesn’t only take place inside of schools, and bullying in the workplace can have serious consequences for everyone. Bullying is often looked at as only affecting two individuals. However, bullying affects an entire company, because it can lower morale and reduce productivity. If you suspect that your company is suffering from bullying, there are ways for you to address the problem and improve your workplace environment for your employees.
1. Learn about the environments bullies thrive in
Too often, we don’t confront bullies or stop their actions because we aren’t sure how to address the problem. The first step to addressing bullying is to understand the environments that bullies thrive in. Bullies thrive in environments that feel closed, where dialogue isn’t encouraged, and where employees aren’t openly communicating on a regular basis. In order to create a better work environment less conducive to bullying, you want your employees communicating more often about what’s going on at work and how they can help each other to be more productive. If employees feel comfortable communicating, bullying is less likely to be an issue, and bullying is more likely to be reported. You’ll also want to develop a comprehensive anti-bullying policy.
2. Speak with bullies privately
If possible, you don’t want to confront a bully in front of your entire staff. There will be much less tension if you privately speak with a bully, telling them what you expect of them, and why their behavior needs to change. Let them know that their bullying isn’t just having a negative effect on the victim, but on the entire company in the form of lowered morale and productivity. Make sure that they acknowledge their place in the problem. Create a plan where you’ll speak with the bully on a regular basis—say once a week for 10-15 minutes for a month, in order to track their progress. You also might want to meet with the victim, or co-workers who have observed the bullying, on a more infrequent basis.
3. If you spot an employee being bullied, correct the behavior
If you see an employee being bullied, don’t shy away, step in and correct the behavior. Intervening can be as simple as calling the bully away to speak to them about something unrelated. If possible, you’ll want to speak with them in private about the matter later. Make sure that you take note of the bullying that you witnessed, and speak directly with the offender about changing the behavior. You should also remind them of the company’s anti-bullying policy.
Regina Fasold is a seasoned Executive Coach and Leadership Expert. Her extensive professional background and her 10+ years of experience as a Global Executive Coach have allowed her to assist over 300 senior executives in corporations throughout the United States and in over 25 countries around the world.