Saturday, February 13, 2010

Workplace Bullying

For many years I have been working to help organisations face the problem of workplace bullying as well as writing programs which best address the issue. How long does it take before a significant even has to take place before a vital issue such as this becomes newsworthy enough for the media and others to report the damage done from disrespectful and harmful workplaces. Last week the owner of a cafe and his employees were fined a substantial amount of money because of the death caused by them of an employee who was bullied. We know that bullying takes place, most workers have experienced it or seen it perpetrated against others. Most of us though do nothing about it.

By doing nothing means that we are as liable as those who bullied. If there was someone who had noticed the bullying of the young women who suicided then perhaps she would have felt protected from those who were doing the bullying and encouraged to leave. Who knows what the outcome may have been but it could have been different from what eventuated. By ignoring bullying we are saying it is okay and we are putting lives at risk. If we all made a stand against disrespectful behaviour we would create working environments which would be far more productive, fun to work in and enhance our sense of wellbeing.

If only we could learn that to acknowledge that we have hurt someone is not about being a wimp and that asking how you can behave differently isn't about giving up your power but enhancing it. How many managers do we know who practice any of this? If they are not practicing it then how can we expect them to "get it" and therefore how impossible would it be to ask them to change.

I have reflected on cultural change since I worked in Rockhampton for three months to do just that. Unless you have the big stick and the authority not much is going to change. All the training programs you can afford are not going to change entrenched bullying. There is not a program or worker on the face of this earth who is able to change the culture of an organisation unless those at the top are prepared to support any effort to change and model those changes.

More people will have their lives ruined or die at the hands of bullies. It is about time we all did something about it. Say NO to bad behaviour - talk about how it makes you feel - tell them how you expect them to behave - explain the consequences if they choose not to change. You may not be important enough to them for them to want to change their behaviour. Accept that not everyone thinks and behaves as you do. But remember that most people do. Find those that do because together you may have the power to make a difference.

1 comment:

  1. Social workers experience bullying in the workplace, not only by our clients and some of community members we work with, but from other professionals too. And by each other! I believe that it is imperative that we stop the secrecy and talk about the fact that bullying occurs within our own profession. It would be a powerful message shared with the world if we could admit that we can in fact relate to our clients who suffer from this abuse. We wear many hats in our profession however we tend to keep the "human being" hat in the closet. I am taking steps to come out of closet and announce that I have suffered from bullying in the workplace. Bullying by my peers (mobbing), and by my supervisors and managers. I am a confident in my success and I believe that respect and recognition for our professional will be gained from sharing our own struggles, journey, and recovery. We need to show that we do *walk the
    talks we give*. If we use our personal and professional experiences combined with our training, we will be the most powerful profession ready and capable of developing anti-bullying policies, procedures, guidelines and
    most importantly changes in our legislation! This is a great opportunity for social workers o get on the map! Fact is, just like the communities we serve, all professionals need
    protection from bullying. I have developed a workshop specific to social workers bullied in the workplace and it launches this week. I cannot wait to circulate this workshop and see the changes that will take place. I hope to travel and teach world wide so that the changes can begin immediately! We have an expertise, lets use it on ourselves! Linda Rae Crockett