How to spot and stop an office bully from chasing away talent – and damaging your small business.
Workplace bullying affects 35 percent of employees, according to a 2010 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), a Bellingham, Wash.-based nonprofit organisation. Gary Namie co-founded WBI with his wife, Ruth, after her first-hand experience with bullying. In an interview, he shared his best advice to entrepreneurs for managing this nefarious problem. What follows are edited excerpts of the interview.
How can you recognise a bully in the workplace?
Gary Namie: Bullying differs from tough management because it’s driven by the perpetrator’s personal agenda and has nothing to do with improving the bottom line or accomplishing a mission. You might see it in how people are speaking to or about each other. Listen for harsh, unfair feedback about some employees. If you sense team members are being ostracised or being given unfair tasks or deadlines, a bully might be behind it. Any time your gut tells you there’s something wrong with how an employee is being treated, you need to address it because it’s going to hurt productivity and cost you good people.
Are there “types” of bullies?
Namie: There are four, but a really competent bully will adopt several of them:
- The Screaming Mimi is the fist-pounding, vein-bulging maniac who publicly tries to make an example of others, using fear and humiliation as management tools.
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