Did you know that workplace bullying (aka, psychological violence which prevents a worker from performing well) is on the rise? Gary and Ruth Namie, in their 2009 book, Bully at Work report that 37% of Americans have been bullied and an additional 12% witnessed bullying at work.
I’ve seen it, been harmed by a few harassers in positions of power but the part that hurts the most is that no one did anything about it. Where are the leaders or safety officers on this issue of senior managers demanding physical favours from young workers? Who do you go to when your manager assigns a bully(who has become the boss’s favourite) to your project? Some Targets suffer in silence, some tell a friend or family member, a few speak up at work but little happens. I see passive behaviour at work and learned that some just ‘cope’ and perform the minimum to continue earning a paycheck. One survey noted that 73% of bullying Targets endure bullying for 6 months, and 44% of Targets for more than one year. How long could you last?
Last week we saw the You tube clip of the American school leader insult a ‘chubba wubba’ parent at a community meeting when his microphone was left on. Then Yahoo posted the surveillance video of the grade one teacher assaulting a six year old in the school hallway. The child had already learned to not report being injured at school. Oh the early lessons we learn.
My colleagues are confused about what happened in the forestry mill in Nanaimo in April. The Namies ask, Are bullied Targets a violence risk? On page 17 they share a story that hits close to home for me.
One man killed himself and his branch manager on the day of his return from recuperation from a heart attack, induced by that manager. The manager greeted him in the parking lot and provoked him before entering the office. The man, described as very gentle and caring by all who knew him, got in his car and drove away, only to return minutes later with a loaded gun. His co-workers considered the killings a tragedy only because of the suicide. It turns out that the branch manager was a favourite of the state capitol. His reputation was a ‘turnaround guy’ who cracked the whip in each of the several offices in which he was assigned. Staff turnover, workers’ compensation and disability claims were his legacy. He was hated by his employees, though encouraged and respected by the folks in the central office who generally disrespected their workforce.p.17
I was involved in an altercation between a welfare client who brought a rifle to settle his dispute with the worker, who had been under considerable duress from changed policies. She denied the client access to various supports he was sure he deserved. The band manager thought the incident was humorous. Both desperate characters survived in a scene that could have ended badly. The social worker got mental health support and the client learned to negotiate a new child custody arrangement (his real goal).
If the ‘customer is always right’ where does that leave your front line workers when the customer is a bully? Do your bosses fall to the charms of bullies?
We will be hosting new workshops on how to Bullyproof yourself and your teams. Call or text me at 604 313 9955 to set one up at your workplace or a neutral setting.