Workplace bullying is a from micro conflict within the organization that continues for an extended period of time and undermines positive working environments. Workplace bullying is manifested through regular mistreatment of some person by threatening, yelling, harassing, humiliating, sabotaging performance, or creating a very stressful environment. Workplace bullying is harmful on both organizational and personal levels as it holds organizations back in reaching their objectives and cause negative outcomes of various nature for individual employees. Thus, eliminating bullying at the office is an important goal that can be achieved by fostering organizational environment that is free of potential bullying causes, including, role conflict, high workload, overly controlling managers, etc.
Bullying is a serious threat to any workplace as it bears negative outcomes both for the organizational success and employees’ personal well-being, On the organizational level, bullying may lead to significant losses across the domains of productivity, operational costs, organizational culture, legal, and reputation. These spheres may be effected as bullying is associated with decreased motivation, higher absenteeism, difficulties recruiting, high turnover, ineffective cooperation and teamwork etc (Bartlett, & Bartlett, 2011).
Furthermore, bullying may lead to negative personal outcomes for employees. To be specific, people who report being bullied at the workplace are more likely to develop depression, anxiety, other mental illnesses, cardiovascular disease, headaches, higher body mass, and increased smoking and alcohol use. As far as performance goes, bullied employees lose their motivation, take more sick days, have lower commitment, worse performance, and lower job satisfaction (Bartlett, & Bartlett, 2011). Because of the named consequences of bullying, creating a bully-free working environment is a crucial task on every manager’s agenda.
In order to ensure bully-free working environment it is important to understand and eliminate common reasons of bullying. These include conflicting roles, unclear or changing expectations, high workload, and inappropriate leadership styles which depend on controlling every step, pointing to mistakes, and holding back valuable information or positive feedback. Much of workplace bullying is rooted in managers abusing their superior position by excessive control, not allowing to make independent decisions, changing rules on the go, taking credit for successes and blaming all the failures on employees. Avoiding these issues in the workplace should help prevent bullying.
Introducing appropriate management policies regarding workplace bullying is one possible way of approaching this issue. However, Beale & Hoel (2011), argue that it is not always effective as it is managers themselves who are the most common perpetrators. It is better to prevent bullying than to fight it. In order to prevent it, it is important to clearly establish everyone’s role and responsibilities, make sure that performance expectation are clear, and all evaluations are fair. It may also help to invest into team-building and social activities to make sure all colleagues are on good terms. Further, hiring managers with high emotional intelligence and people skills may also prove helpful as emotionally intelligent leaders are less likely to engage in demotivating and demeaning bullying behaviors.
Lastly, bullying may be a symptom of unresolved and on-going conflicts in the workplace that continue to unfold indirectly and may influence multiple other processes and operations (Einaren et al., 2010). Managers should always take the appropriate time to observe communication patterns in their team and confront any possible conflicts with due seriousness and attention. Effective manager should be competent in utilizing various conflict resolution techniques and employ the most appropriate ones depending on circumstances. Among all the available conflict resolution techniques I would most likely rely on problem solving and altering the human variable most of the times. This is due to the fact that prefer to resolve conflicts by reaching voluntary agreement between parties instead of forcing someone to make certain sacrifices. These two techniques emphasize open dialogue and search for perspectives that allow everyone to better understand the other side.
- Bartlett, J.E., & Bartlett, M.E. (2011). Workplace Bullying: An Integrative Literature Review. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 13(1), 69-84.
- Beale. D., & Hoel, H. (2011). Workplace bullying and the employment relationship: exploring questions of prevention, control and context. Work, employment and society, 25(1), 5-18.
- Einaren, S., Hoel, H., Zapf, D., & Cooper, C. (2010). Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace: Developments in Theory, Research, and Practice. CRC Press.