Spotting the Signs of Workplace Bullying

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Not all bullies leave their behavior on the playground. Some of them grow up to continue their behavior in the workplace. Managers who know how to identify and stop bullying seize the opportunity to build a strong team, spur feelings of loyalty from the bullies’ targets, and minimize conflict while encouraging productivity and retention.

The Workplace Bullying Institute defines bullying as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons by one or more perpetrators” in any one of many different forms. Here are some of the top signs of workplace bullying:

  1. As anyone who has had a schoolyard bully threaten them knows, intimidation via threats and fear-inducing behavior is a popular bullying tactic. Watch how co-workers interact to spot intimidation, which can often be subtle.
  2. Isolation or exclusion. Is someone on your team routinely left out of meetings, decisions, conversations, or work or after-work events? Find out what’s going on – isolation and exclusion are common bullying tactics.
  3. Bullies know their behavior is unacceptable, so they will frequently lie, omit, manipulate, or fabricate stories in order to cover it up. They may also do these things to undermine co-workers’ confidence and gain control over them.
  4. Like deceit, rationalization is employed by bullies in order to cover their tracks: “I’m not hurting her, she really doesn’t care if I….” Rationalization may also be used by victims of bullying to downplay the situation – not because it’s not bad, but because the target doesn’t want to be the victim of further bullying.
  5. Undermining work. Workplace bullies will often “attack” by attempting to delay or block another person’s progress on a project, by offering crucial help and then backing out in a way that leaves the other person “stuck,” or by alternating supportive and undermining behavior.
  6. Pitting team members against one another. Some workplace bullies are masters of “riling up” co-workers against one another, and then standing back with an air of total innocence. Listening carefully to participants in a conflict can help you root out the source.

At Burnett’s Staffing, our recruiters help you find top talent that offers a great cultural fit, so your team develops a strong sense of camaraderie as they put their best work toward a common goal. Contact us today to learn more.

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