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How to stop bullying in the workplace

Gary Namie, consultant for The Work Doctor® and director of the Workplace Bullying Institute, recommends organizations create a bullying prevention policy rather than going after individual bullies. Namie conducted a Workplace Bullying Workshop last week at Western Iowa Tech (WIT) Community College.

From the Work Doctor site
Employers traditionally create policies to prohibit negative conduct when laws compel them. A good policy to prevent bullying is the cornerstone of a civil workplace. It sends the right message that destructive interpersonal misconduct is no way to run a successful, sustainable business.

Three components to stop bullying
a. An internal, loophole-free policy to specifically address workplace bullying.

b. Enforcement procedures to implement the policy and provide personal and organizational accountability. The policy needs to be applicable to everyone in the organization.

c. A plan to train and educate all employees, supervisors and administrators.

Don’t hire bullies
Robert Dunker, president of WIT, attended most of the daylong session in Sioux City. He changed his schedule that day to come to the afternoon session to hear Namie address how to keep bullies out of the workplace. Dunker asked how to identify bullies in the hiring process. Namie answered you seek the opinions of those who worked under a candidate, not from his or her current place of employment, but from the employer before that. People in that organization will be candid. Current employees will not reveal a bully in their midst.

The United States has not passed a law against workplace bullying

Namie believes laws are needed. Laws will compel employers to correct and prevent mistreatment rather than minimize the problem as ‘personality clashes’. Bullying closely resembles domestic violence in that both were shrouded in silence and the victim is often thought to be at fault. Domestic violence has emerged from that shroud.

Other countries have legislation against bullying. As of Oct. 1, Saskatchewan is the second Canadian province with legislation banning bullying in the workplace. Quebec also bans those activities. Sweden implemented the first national law in 1993; Great Britain followed in 1997 and France in 2002. Two Australian states also have laws.

A Week dedicated to Courage, Support, Inspiration and Peace in the American Workplace
Oct. 14-20 is Freedom from Bullies Week, a project of the Workplace Bullying Institute headquartered in Bellingham, Washington. http://bullyinginstitute.org/studies9.html


This is definitely a problem. I have two friends that recently quit their jobs as the result of what they perceived to be a lack of response from company management when they complained of aggressive behavior at the workplace. Both had followed company policy and procedures for resolving the issue and both were frustrated with the perceived response - "get a thicker skin." They worked for separate companies, but both companies were in the Ames area.

We are currently rolling out a program called Training Within Industry (TWI)to the manufacturers in Iowa. One of the three components is Job Relations, designed to teach supervisors how to develop and maintain positive employee relations to prevent problems from happening and how to effectively resolve conflicts that arise.

We are limited to working with Iowa manufacturers, but the methods can be used by anyone who is in charge of people or directs the work of others, regardless of the type of work being done.

I'm intrigued with what seems to me to be an impossible task -- to draw a "internal, loophole-free policy to specifically address workplace bullying".

This really would be a great thing. Any examples of such a policy?

I feel that I've been a victim of bullying in the workplace for almost a year. I have expressed my disgust with our department's politics and my disgust with my boss' style of management. I called our company's H.R. department to complain about favoritism and unfairness in our department. It turns out, my boss is a friend of the woman I complained to in the HR department. It got back to my boss. She brought it up in a staff meeting that 'someone called HR on her'. She never mentioned whom. Ever since that meeting. My boss has been grinding an axe for me. She managed to get my colleagues against me. she has started an "Action Plan" against me, she has somehow gotten two colleagues who happen to be her friends to make false accusations and statements about me. They have reported false accusations to our H.R. department. I have now been placed on administrative leave from my job pending an investigation of my "conduct". I need advice desperately. Workplace bullying is a very fine line and very hard to prove. I'd like to go into further detail. Thank you in advance for any advice.

The Workplace Bullying Institute has personal confidential coaching on Monday afternoons. They are on the west coast so it is Pacific time. http://bullyinginstitute.org/coach.html

I’m having a difficult time finding U.S. policies. On the Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace: Mobbing – U.S. A., check the State of Oregon, Department of Environmental Quality Anti-mobbing Policy, http://www.mobbing-usa.com/R_legal.html
This site is particularly interesting to central Iowans. One book author is in Des Moines; one is in Roland, IA and the third in Bern, Switzerland. I purchased their book at a library sale a month ago and am reading it. Just a cursory look---the book has an example anti-mobbing policy. It cites several companies with proactive approaches, outlining teamwork and trust, diversity, recognition, ethical management practices, communication and empowerment. I did not realize there was a companion Web site until I found it this weekend. Perhaps I can convince one of these authors to be a guest blogger in the future.

Workplace bullying: Escalated incivility from the Ivey Business Journal, University of Western Ontario, is a 6-page reprint of an article by Gary Namie of the Workplace Bullying Institute. Page 5 has details on what the policy should include, enforcement processes and restorative interventions. http://bullyinginstitute.org/res/ivey.pdf

Robert Sutton, author of ‘The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t’ concentrates on the hiring and firing policies. The point I particularly like he makes is that every candidate is interviewed by people who will be above, below and alongside them status-wise. People from unrelated professional disciplines participate. A company that uses this method as the decision maker keeps a manager from hiring clones. On the firing side, a new CEO used the performance evaluation system to weed out people over a two-year stretch. Sutton says, “This purge was a cornerstone of a cultural change that ‘breathed humanity into the business, for both employees and customers,’ and helped them break ‘a lot of other bad habits too, like being afraid to experiment with new ideas.’”

Victoria Human Resource Management Manual, Australia, Workplace Bullying Policy and Procedures, http://www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/upload/bullying.pdf (The capital of the state of Victoria is Melbourne.)
An Australian document on Preventing Workplace Bullying, http://www.workcover.act.gov.au/pdfs/guides_cop/Bullying_Guide-Final.pdf

A United Kingdom resource about developing a policy, http://www.bullyonline.org/action/policy.htm

At Firms With ‘No Jerks’ Rules, Abusive Attorneys Need Not Apply’ And finally an interesting article that came out last week on how the legal profession is striving to deal with bullies. It calls for proactive action in hiring, reactive in dealing with current employees. http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1192525408334

i have been been under a bully boss for 5 years. filed stress claim been hospitalized and still it continues.