Research indicates that reports of being bullied are somewhere around 50%; and some studies indicate this number can be as high as 90%.
But most managers and human resource professionals would say that they don't have a bully in their organization and they do foster a very healthy workplace. With that many people feeling bullied, either these victims all work for the same company or there's some serious denial out there about behavior within our own organizations. Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help you determine if there's a bully in your workplace. See below regarding your answers.
1. Does your organization acknowledge or give public awards for demonstrating empathy, openness to feedback or effective communication skills?
2. Do items such as, "Demonstrates excellent reflective listening skills and an ability to outwardly exhibit cognitive comprehension", and "Motivated to appropriately respond to internal and external communication from all levels" appear in your job descriptions?
3. Do company meetings start with an open forum, where free thinkers, innovators and commentators are allowed to openly share ideas, thoughts, questions, and concerns?
4. Does your employee satisfaction survey ask employees if they are satisfied with internal communication flow and with the communication of their superiors? If it does, do your managers actually act on negative responses?
5. Do themes of openness, candidness, honesty and candor run through employee stories? (Or are employee stories about micromanagement, evil managers and keeping things quiet?)
6. Are contributions to organizational processes encouraged by employees at all levels?
7. Are bonuses and other rewards directly related to evaluations of communication from others in 360° reviews?
8. Have you received reports from employees that other employees are bullies?
9. Does your organization (or some of its managers) insist on following the rules right down to the dot above the "i" and the cross on the "t"?
10. Is there unhealthy organizational competition (within a specific department, or even across departments or department managers)?
11. Is your organization going through major changes (e.g., downsizing, restructuring)?
12. Have any of your managers changed personalities with a new promotion (e.g., seemingly become more power thirsty, aggressive, or untrusting)?
Questions 1-7: If you answered three of these seven questions "no", then it is very likely your organization is harboring a bully.
Questions 8-12: If you answered even just one of these five questions "yes", then it is very likely your organization is harboring a bully.
Remember that bullying is not a simple case of a bad behaving employee - it is systemic. Removing it from your organization requires the commitment of management and a well thought out and well executed plan. Organizations that value internal relationships and understand their positive impact on the bottom line will see employee individual success and greater organizational victory.
Don't forget to read the rest of my latest edition of NoWorkplaceBullies e-news.