February 13, 2009

Workplace Bullies: Taking “Sticks and Stones” to a New Level

We are all dealing with changes big or small as a result of recent economic events, and for the most part, we’re doing our best to take them in stride. One change that I’ve been reading more and more about lately, however, reveals a disturbing twist in the workplace landscape. According to a recent article on BNET, workplace bullies are out of the sandbox and on the rise in offices everywhere.

Okay, maybe not everywhere. But Preparis, Inc. a leader in work force preparedness solutions, forecasts that incidents of workplace violence could potentially rise as down-on-their-luck U.S. workers anticipate more layoffs this quarter and also continue to feel the pressure of putting food on the table for their families during the busy holiday season. As many workers fear that their homes, finances and jobs are threatened, they may turn to desperate measures to make ends meet - or take their stress out on those they work (and feel most comfortable) with. Preparis also mentions some warning signs of high stress that employers should watch out for.

Results from a 2007 WBI-Zogby survey of 7,440 American workers revealed that 37 percent, or an estimated 54 million people, have been bullied at work, and many lawyers say that bullying-related litigation is on the rise, particularly in light of our recent economic woes.

The effects are being felt abroad, too. The UK’s Chartered Management Institute has found that, in comparing recent results of their workplace bullying survey with survey results from three years ago, bullying appears to be on the rise across all organizations. Jo Causon, director of marketing and corporate affairs at CMI, says, “In the current economic climate, the pressure to deliver is more acute than ever, but the need to perform should not be seen as an excuse to bully.” She adds, “Now, more than ever, the ability of the UK’s managers and leaders to set a good example is paramount.”

From: http://thehiringsite.careerbuilder.com


Anonymous said...

In a meeting today with the manager about being widely viewed as a persona non grata in the research team following a game of blame among managers that ended with blaming me unfairly but "discretely" and with threatening the withdrawal of funds.

The manager: " I know they never reviewed or understood your work before they commented that it is not completde...They are threatening to withdraw funding if you dont complete the work...there is unlikely to be a need for your skills in the next phase of the project...it is ok...you are still young...I also didnt have a personal life...you will recover...you have excellent skills...I will give you a good reference...it is better not to raise a formal grievance because it is not good for anyone especialy when you apply to other universities...no one employs someone who is causing trouble..."

Me: "How, how, how? but I submitted the full work and provided validated results...but it was never reviewed by you or anyone!"

The manager: "Well, they are under pressure and clearly have no time to understand it"

Me: "But I put up for two years with their bullying...what..."

The manager: "this is the real world..."

Anonymous said...

Advice from the bulliedblogger THE

One tactic: Bullies know that they can do a lot of damage to people and their careers with little effort,---because only they are listened to---and often they make sure not to leave a paper/digital trail.

If you are being bullied however, that is exactly what you must do---create the trail of evidence that proves their abuse and incomptence, both formal and informal evidence.

So take notes at meetings, in front of the bully, send follow-up informal emails after informal meetings to them and to others (which mention things that are important for others to know---casually or more formally), compile evidence of your professionalism in whatever way, and do everything by the book.

Ask that everyone else do everythihg by the book.

Meticulous documentation vs. no documentation (the latter is the way of bullies everywhere) means that they may have to move on to easier targets.

This happened in my institution when I was bullied---the bullies backed off and looked pathetic, after I could back up everything I said with evidence on paper and they had nothing except their own malicious, unfounded gossip.

People took notice and I received some support.

Also, constantly display a desire to follow rules and regulations---if you pay attention, you may notice that bullies bypass all sorts of rules and regulations, not just anti-bullying ones, again because they know they will not be held accountable.

Mention informally to the bullly and to everyone, in person and in emails, that, on any issue, all you really want is for university rules and regulations to be followed. Throw in some quotes and page numbers to show you have read them. This may also convince the bully that you are too much hard work, and you may get support from unexpected places, as after all, all you want to uphold regulations.

Aphra says:

This wasn't me - but it is the advice I would give... well done THE...

Dave is an interesting character on bullied blogger - he provides such insights into how some people respond to bullying - they cannot bear bullying to be discussed - I have come across this reaction a lot -

'why can't you just shut up about being bullied' -

never spoken like that of course - but those non verbal gestures - the tone of voice - all give Dave's message...

...so keep going Dave... it's useful to see a closet bully in action...

..and as for my story...

... the collusion grows... the actions of those who are supposed to be investigating the bullying make the actions of the bullies almost pale into insignificance...

....almost but not quite...

... what they have done to me...

...wrecked my academic career...

\... can never ever be undone...

....so XXXXX do you know that after your last letter I just want to come into your room and ram the letter down your throat...

.... but I won't because you hold the power not me...

Bullies know that they can do a lot of damage to people and their careers with little effort,---because only they are listened to---

... create the trail of evidence that proves their abuse and incomptence, both formal and informal evidence...

...compile evidence of your professionalism in whatever way, and do everything by the book...

THE - we are indebted to you...

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

I can't capture my experience in words

... the grievance process

... the ultimate abuse of power

... their arrogance defies belief

... a belief that they are above the law

... that they can do exactly what they want

... while they watch me slowly surrender to their

... slow torture

... their everlasting gang rape

... while my screams are silenced

... while my screams are ignored

... the cries of a mad woman

... ignore her

... she'll die soon

... the corruption

... where does it stop?

... who will provide the firebreak

... who will stand up and say

... enough.

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

I am a Human Resources Director in an organization, and I have been bullied for nine years by a coworker. I just finally filed a claim, but I am physically, mentally and emotionally devastated by the effects of this subversive, subtle character assassination. I want to continue to work here, but the price may be too great.

Anonymous said...

Silence is your biggest enemy. It's better to have coworkers scream at you, so you can shout back and defend yourself rather than to be ostracized and get the silent treatment.
I am surrounded by a wall of silence, and when finally I get a chance to speak, it comes all wrong since every word suddenly becomes so IMPORTANT.