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What to Do about Bullies in the Workplace

Recognize This! – Fire bullies. That is the only reasonable course of action.

News about bullies in the workplace seems to come up fairly regularly. In his “Business Performance” blog, Leslie Allen recently reported on a CareerBuilder.com survey on bullies:

“The survey carried out by CareerBuilder.com between February and March of 2011, which involved just over 5,600 employees in Chicago, showed that 27% of participants have experienced recent bullying in the workplace. The study also revealed that the main culprits of workplace bullying are bosses and immediate supervisors, with 14% of workers saying that they have been bullied by someone in a supervisory role. What is also alarming about this study is that out of the 28% of participants who said that they reported the bullying to their HR departments, 62% said that no action was taken to resolve the issue.”

Les went on to offer advice for “policy making and proactive professional development” to move to a zero-tolerance culture for bullying.

I don’t think this is strong enough. I believe they only thing you can do with bullies is to exit them from the organization. If your goal is to create a culture of recognition and appreciation in your organization, there is simply no room for those who believe bullying tactics work.

I misinterpreted an excellent post by Wally Bock (which I also wrote about from a different angle yesterday). In a comments conversation, Wally corrected my misinterpretation and provided an excellent difference on the difference between bullies and those who simply manage employees as interchangeable cogs and not people:

“Bullies are different. They treat people like people, but they exploit and terrorize them.”

Succinct and to the point. With that definition of bullies, what excuse can be made for keeping such people in an organization?

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