Bullies in the workplace are a growing problem that must be dealt with head on. In fact, there must be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.
Bullying is one of those behaviors that we all know exists but are not quite sure how to define it. As the Supreme Court once said about pornography, “We will know it when we see it” the same can be said about a bully. Although every bully is a little different the basic premise of a bully is that they will display negative types of behavior in order to get what they want. This could mean they use their body language, their size, their voice, their language, their seniority, or anything else they feel will give them the advantage to achieve their selfish desires.
Possessing good leadership skills will enable you to deal head on with bullies in the workplace in a way that will defuse them. Keep in mind that some bullying should earn them a one way ticket out of their job working for your organization. Understanding that I have spent nearly forty years in the workplace and while I was earning my wings as a leader the term “A Bulldozer” was used in place of bully; however they are the same thing.
The leadership style you use depends on your personality but I am the type of leader that approaches everything based on the situation. Of course that leadership style is referred to as a situational leader. What this means is that I am a strong believer in building relationships with my staff. I do my best to find out what makes them tick without getting more personal than is wise. Just having a conversation about their weekend may tell you a lot about them and of course they will better understand you as well. Why is this important? Because the better someone knows someone the more likely you will be able to lead that person.
So if I have someone within my organization that is displaying signs of being a bully I will direct my one on one impromptu conversation in a way that will try to uncover their past. By doing so I can change my leadership style in a way that will build them into the employee I demand them to be. That may mean having a private conversation in my office that makes it clear my position on bullies in the workplace. Possessing good leadership skills requires you to be able to have these tough conversations before the behavior gets out of control. This is kind of like having a conversation with someone about personal hygiene. No one wants to discuss it until it is so out of control the only solution is termination.
Do we not change out oil in our vehicles every three thousand miles so that the engine will last longer? Do we not brush our teeth so that we can avoid a trip to the dentist? If we are smart we take action on things prior to them being a problem. This is no different than interceding when we believe someone is displaying a trait that will lead them into something worse. Whether it is a few too many unscheduled absences or their performance begins to slip we must tackle the problem before it gets out of hand.
The conversation could begin like this, “I’ve noticed that you seem to be more upset lately – please tell me what may be happening in your life that is causing you to be this way.” However you approach the topic it must be sincere or they will see right through you. You may even throw something personal in about yourself if such as a troubling experience in your life and how it affected you. This may let their guard down and open up to you. From there you can develop a plan on how to help them with whatever is going on.
Thank you and may God bless you!