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Bullies and Terrorists in the workplace

Bullies and Terrorists in the workplace

Posted on 19/03/2013 by Jesus Garcia Martin

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How many times have you heard a company owner or MD say, “We really can’t afford to lose him/her”? Which is then often justified by one or more of the following – ‘It’s the income they generate, their contacts, or a particular skill or knowledge within the company’.

The truth is nobody is indispensable and the graveyards are full of people who thought that they were.  In business we have all made the mistake of believing it of ourselves or keeping someone on when we really should have let them go.  In any organisation it’s too easy to overlook or excuse the conduct of a bully or a ‘terrorist’ for the wrong reasons, the result of which can have a damaging and negative impact on performance and profits.

As an owner, CEO or partner in a business this is a serious error of judgement and when we believe these people to be invaluable we are only kidding ourselves.  Here we have to hold our hand up and confess that we have been guilty of this very same error of judgement and suffered the consequences, which were profound, productivity and performance declined and we lost two great people.

How could we have been so blind? You may well ask… the terrorist/bully simply painted the directors – us – as ogres and then informed everyone that we considered dissent as disloyalty and that she was the only thing standing between them and dismissal.

If it seems absurd and you think it could never happen to you, be assured it happens all too frequently and it was only when we eased her out that the damage caused by her behaviour became apparent.  We now know that one in four people resign/leave because of bullying at work.  It seriously adversely affects productivity, teamwork, creativity, turnover and absenteeism and if allowed to get out of hand, can threaten litigation and severe financial penalties. From extensive, credible surveys of employees in organisations across the UK 68% of people said it was under reported, and even when it is reported seldom investigated or punished.

Bullying and teasing, now identified as workplace harassment, is one of the major causes of stress at work and is estimated to cost more than £2bn per year in sick pay, staff turnover and lower productivity.

Ironically bullying behaviour is often a sign of insecurity in a manager, team leader or even a director.  Promotion, while giving some a sense of power, for others it accentuates their insecurity. Usually it is justly given to employees for their skills and knowledge of the business, their performance or income generation or even just their length of service. However laudable the reason without the proper management skills or emotional intelligence, it can put them way out of their comfort zone and leave them isolated. However good they might be at their job very few are taught how to manage, build a team or how to get the best out of people. And when it comes to confrontation or dispute resolution, without the support of a very good HR department, mostly only found in large organisations, they are out of their depth.

With correct guidance, mentoring, education good management practice can be learned and good management engenders a good workforce, happy people and better productivity. KCA is all about designing the right people management solution for your business…it’s what we do best.