The Bully Show

Bullying in the workplace has been a hot topic of conversation in the workplace and in the news in NZ this week following this incident. Thousands of people around the world including some seriously high profile celebrities (the likes of Ed Sheeran and Lorde) watched and have offered everything from opinions to condolences for both parties.

And so why is this incident so different from the likes of Simon Cowell who was also renowned for his harsh tongue at times? Or is it different? In this instance I think the incident is more of a personal attack, which I think is more what you could describe Simons’ incidences as.

So what constitutes bullying? The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment attempts to describe it here, along with case studies from employment law; concluding that it is unwanted and unwarranted behaviour that a person finds offensive, intimidating or humiliating and is repeated so as to have a detrimental effect upon a person’s dignity, safety, and well-being. It could also be something that someone repeatedly does or says to gain power and dominance over another, including any action or implied action, such as threats, intended to cause fear and distress.

What does this mean for employers?

  • Treat all matters seriously and act promptly when a bullying issue is brought to your attention.
  • Ensure there is no victimisation and that both parties are made aware of the support available to them.
  • Remain neutral throughout the process and ensure all parties are treated equally and courteously, free of any bias.
  • Communicate & Document. Ensure all facts, dates, meetings and outcomes are accurately documented and communicated to both parties, maintaining confidentiality at all times.

 
Employees, how can you deal with the situation?

  • Document the facts; keep records of incidences noting time, place, circumstances, witnesses, actions and effects.
  • Have a conversation; ensure you speak up, tell the right person, detail the facts and be careful about the language used (remembering a one off incident is not considered bullying)
  • Consequences; get a commitment from the organisation/bully that the behaviour will change and what the consequences will be of this not happening. Stay optimistic that things will change.
  • Seek professional help; if you are still struggling with the effects of the bullying be sure to talk to a professional counsellor or similar to ensure you properly work through the situation personally.

For both Employers and Employees it’s important to address the situation to ensure the safety and continued productivity of all affected, and to ensure proper help and advice is sought for a satisfactory resolution. The far reaching effects of bullying can be huge – don’t let it become a show stopper!

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