October 30, 2008

Bullying exists within the majority of organisations. To what extent is this the employer’s responsibility?

...Olsen suggests several reasons why employers are slow to deal with claims of bullying. These include fear that the lack of definition and ability to asses what is bullying and what is not bullying will give rise to many spurious or malicious complaints; there is a single-bottom-line focus and unless issues are seen to have directly affected profits there is reluctance to address them; generational cycles of high conflict, workplace bullying and harassment have created a culture that seems impossible to change; those in positions of power are afraid because they realise it may mean having to change their own style of management; they simply do not want to understand it and do not want to address it; they turn a blind eye and don’t believe it could be a problem within their organisation; they consider it to be too costly to address properly and do not see these costs as being recoverable (Olsen 2005, pp. 31).

...To examine the extent of the employers responsibility for stopping bullying, it is necessary to examine the causes of bullying. Olsen (2005) suggests several reasons including the personal need to maintain power over others; the personal need to control people, circumstances or situations; a predatory need to victimise or abuse others; wanting to have fun at someone else’s expense; stress of pressure; the need to maintain a culture and teach or toughen up newcomers (rites of passage, initiation practices); a pathological need to appear superior to others or achieve success at another’s expense (Olsen 2005, pp. 28).

She also explains the two extremes of reasons behind bullying as being ’situational’ - due to a particular event or situation - and ‘chronic’ - being within the nature of the bully under all situations (Olsen 2005). The situational bully may respond to being placed under pressure, experiencing personal problems, being threatened by others or having their own self esteem threatened by performing an isolated act of bullying. Olsen (2005) sees this as most common form of bullying and the easiest to manage, saying that these individuals will respond well to correction and training. The UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line (date not given) suggests specific psychological disorders that can account for chronic bullying. These include antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, borderline personality disorder and Munchausen’s Syndrome. Olsen (2005) says that although chronic bullies are less common that situational bullies, they may have greater impact upon people and organisations and be far more difficult, if not impossible, to change (Olsen 2005, pp. 42).

From: http://www.businessteacher.org.uk

No comments: