Posted by: healingtheworkplace | April 25, 2009

Stop Bullying at Work: Thoughts from a Psychologist


Yesterday a colleague sent me a copy of a publication called Bullying at Work written by UK Psychologist Noreen Tehrani.

Noreen writes,

“we are at an interesting stage in how bullying at work is being tackled. Over the past 20 years, organizations have moved from ‘it doesn’t happen here’, to acceptance, and to putting policies in place to try and stop it.”

Noreen goes on to ask the questions, “Do these policies work, and if not, why not?”

Too many organizations are waiting for BAD BEHAVIOR to happen. The policies give advice on how to deal with the bullying behavior…focusing on the victim and isolating the bully.

But policies alone cannot solve the problem!  

Dealing with bullying behavior in the workplace calls for a more comprehensive approach which includes:

  • policies
  • training
  • leadership development
  • team building
  • communication skills training
  • coaching and counselling
  • appreciative inquiry (recognizing and promoting positive relationships and behaviors)

Noreen also writes about INSTITUTIONALIZED BULLYING which is condoned by an organization by allowing the following:

  • autocratic management styles
  • work overload
  • role confusion
  • a blame culture
  • unresolved conflict
  • tolerating (or even promoting) aggressive behavior because it is believed to get results

For most of my career I have worked in health care organizations. I can still remember one psychiatrist who bullied staff, residents, patients and families. At least he was consistent.

There were numerous complaints about his behavior and nurses often refused to work on days when he made his rounds in their departments.

This was such a clear case of institutional bullying and yet nothing was done about it.

Senior management was aware of this man’s behavior but they chose to look the other way because this bully brought in large sums of research money and he was seen to get results.

Bullying at Work is published by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development in the UK.

The emphasis is on promoting positive working relationsips.

AND creating workplaces where appropriate ways of behaving are clearly communicated and supported.

Bullying at Work is well researched and well written. Try and get a copy.



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