January 08, 2023

Addressing instrumental bullying — stopping the Schemer...

 ...To prevent instrumental, indirect, and covert bullying, organizations should ensure transparent, fair, equitable, and legitimate ways to obtain rewards. Promotions, resource allocation, and other crucial decisions should be made based on transparent and accurately measured performance outcomes. “Eyeballing” performance rewards bragging, credit-taking, and possessing external markers of privilege.

Moreover, ensuring justice in organizational decision making requires a mechanism for correcting high-stakes decisions when necessary (such as if the information they were based on was incomplete or false, as in Noor’s case). For example, an independent group (e.g., a committee of ombudspeople) could verify the evidence supporting demotions or progressive discipline. Specific mechanisms
 differ based on the type of organization (state, private, unionized, etc.) and employment, often taking the form of grievance committees serving a specific type of employees (e.g., classified or unclassified, salaried or hourly). In any case, grievance and check-and-balance mechanisms may help disincentivize the reliance on instrumental bullying to get ahead.

Asynchronous work tools like taskboards and shared documents may also help prevent instrumental bullying in the form of credit-taking or unfair evaluations. Beyond their purpose as productivity tools, they serve an additional function of documenting performance and contributions.

Valid and well-designed recruitment,
 selection, and talent-management mechanisms that focus on demonstrated skills, results, and the ability to support others (rather than the ability to talk oneself up) also play a significant role in establishing a positive organizational climate. These can help prevent the hiring and promotion of takers and overconfident but incompetent individuals by identifying early signals of someone’s potential bullying behavior. For example, asking candidates to describe their experiences of failure or of enabling others to succeed will reveal degrees of humility, self-awareness, and orientation toward others...