Friday, July 25, 2008

Workplace Bullying vs. Domestic Bullying

I recently corresponded with a woman who reports having been stalked for nine years by an ex-boyfriend, a doctor who works in a hospital. I don’t doubt her when she says, “I have a big load of problems.” Nor do I doubt that she is bullied, but there is a distinction between workplace bullying and “domestic” bullying. Stalking and domestic abuse are matters for law enforcement officials; whereas, workplace bullying isn’t illegal, yet. Thirteen states have introduced bills to make workplace bullying illegal. So far, none have passed, but I expect eventually a bill will pass into law, and others will follow.

This photo was taken in an artist’s shop in South Africa. It’s cute and funny, but it’s also a reminder to know where your kids are and what they are doing.

Childhood bullies grow up to be workplace bullies, and without their parent’s help and support, childhood targets can become adult targets.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Bottom-line Wins

In response to a recent blog posting here, the question arose as to WHY do organizations put up with bullies. A key answer is $$$$. Yesterday, I spoke to a small business owner, who employs 50 people, regarding a workplace bully. The bully in this case is bullying the owner! Yes, it does happen.

To a large degree, the owner understands what is happening as a result of this bully. However, the owner has tolerated the bully’s behavior for four years because the bully pulls in high-level, critical sums of revenue. This individual is well known in the relevant industry for top-level sales, and probably for negative behaviors and personality, as well.

When it comes to the bottom-line (tangible factor) versus employees’ welfare (intangible), the bottom-line usually prevails. It’s easy to calculate the bottom-line, but not the effects of a bully on employee morale and productivity, in general.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Rat in a Glass Aquarium

The following quote is from a woman who told me of being bullied by the person in the adjoining cubicle—another woman who had been hired the same day and quickly developed intense jealousy toward my contact.

“The long-term effect of working under these conditions with such a toxic personality was that I began to feel like a lab rat in a glass aquarium. I suffered from mild depression, gained weight, and watched my blood pressure rise to the point that my doctor prescribed medication. I had no energy, no drive. I felt beaten and worthless and trapped--and it began to show in my work. After seven years, I was terminated, but ultimately, found other work where I thrived. She is still employed there, but reportedly, has driven off two of my successors in the same manner--one after only six months.”

This is just one more example of the devastating effects bullies have—psychological, physical, and financial—on targets and the companies they work for. In the United States, fifty-four million employees are bullied at work, both men and women. Yet, management turns the other way.

The toll should be too great to ignore.