The Great Debate UK
Bullying is not restricted only to obvious verbal and physical abuse. More subtle and insidious forms include: isolation (by preventing access to opportunities; withholding important information); unreasonable demands (in terms of workload, standards or deadlines) or destabilisation (by removing responsibility; giving meaningless tasks; withholding recognition when it is due or inappropriately taking the credit for others’ work).
When such behaviour is frequent, persistent and impacts negatively on a person’s well being, it is described as “bullying”. People who report being bullied often (but not always) have a sense of being singled out for particularly negative treatment. There is also often a perceived power disparity – where the “bully” may be seen as more powerful, senior or well-established in the organisation than the “target” – who feels that he or she has limited power to defend themselves.
Why does it happen?
The mainstream view of the bullying industry that has emerged over the last decade or so is firmly victim-centred and attributes blame for bullying either to the personal make up of the bully (that they have psychopathic personality tendencies) or to the organisation’s failure to put in place the right culture and systems to prevent bullying.
- Jonathan Perks is managing director of board and executive coaching at Penna. The opinions expressed are his own.-
The issues which surround bullying in the workplace, linked to the allegations surrounding Prime Minister Gordon Brown, provide a timely reminder of what good leadership is really about. But firstly it’s important to remind ourselves as to what behaviours constitute bullying and this definition sums it up nicely: “persistent, offensive, abusive, intimidating, or insulting behaviour, abuse of power, or unfair penal sanctions which makes the recipient feel upset, threatened, humiliated, or vulnerable, which undermines their self-confidence and which may cause them to suffer stress.”
- Gary Miles is Head of Open Programmes and Events at Roffey Park – a provider of Leadership and Management courses. The opinons expressed are his own.-
As the controversy around alleged bullying in Downing Street continues, we’re seeing a stream of features in the media looking at the issue of bullying in the workplace: what is or is not bullying behaviour, why it happens, where victimised employees can turn to for help. Indeed, perhaps the one positive outcome of all this has been to bring a serious issue of working life to the forefront of the collective consciousness.
- Libby Payne is an executive committee member of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association and clinical director of CiC. She has more than 20 years experience in the provision of workplace counselling and psychological support, specialising in the management of crisis interventions and complex personnel issues within organisations. The opinions expressed are her own. -
Bullying is a fact of life in many organisations, regardless of size or industry sector. And in recent days – for the right or the wrong reasons – the subject of workplace bullying has been thrust into the media and public spotlight. But beyond the headlines, bullying is a problem that organisations need to address and do so in a way that focuses on a positive solution, not a public battle to attribute blame.
- Dr Linda Alker is a princpal lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. Her areas of expertise include organisational change, leadership and workplace stress. The opinions expressed are her own. -
Workplace bullying is identified as one of the greatest sources of stress that you can put upon your employees, although organisations and managers are often slow to react to cases of bullying because bullying is not always accepted as a credible label for the kind of abuse that employees face in the workplace.