In the few short weeks since the beginning of January, here are just two of the headlines that have appeared in respected business publications: “Is Your Boss a Psychopath?” and “A Survivor’s Guide to Bullies, Backstabbers and Bastards.” Words like “toxic, destructive, revenge, screaming, crying, and storming” fill the paragraphs. Books on the subject include “Snakes in Suits” and “Sociopaths at Work.” And of course there are the films, “The Devil Wears Prada” and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which depict these not-so-fictional antisocial behaviors that are epidemic in today’s workplace.
There is a plethora of information about what to do if you work for one of these tyrants, but how about if you are the workplace bully inflicting all this pain and suffering?
This blog post is for you.
Answer these five questions to determine if you are a bully.
- Have you yelled at someone today and on most days?
- Do you slam doors when you are angry?
- Have you publicly humiliated and demoralized co-workers by calling them morons, idiots, and other disparaging epithets?
- Do you throw things, stamp your feet, and pound your fist on the table to make your point?
- Do you make fun of co-workers with mean-spirited insults?
Recent stats: Thirty-five percent of the American workforce has been bullied. Seven out 10 employees leave their jobs because of a bully.
If three out of five answers were “Yes,” here are five reasons to alter your behavior right now.
- Because you lead by intimidation and fear, most everyone is afraid of speaking with you at all, never mind telling you important truths about your business. There is a lot that you are not being told about what is going on. No one seeks to be the dead messenger.
- Co-workers who are respected and valued produce better work, are loyal, and go above and beyond when problems arise. The converse is true for colleagues who are disrespected, demeaned, and not acknowledged for the experience and talents that they were hired for in the first place. Your colleagues may be physically there, but not really there. The term is “presenteeism.”
- Your co-workers may be at their desks but many of them are busy looking for the exit – and they are doing it on the company dime.
- Perhaps you are bullying only one person? It is true that bullying takes the biggest toll on the victim but the witnesses of bullying also pay a high price, and they too will also look to quit. Have you heard of survivor’s guilt?
- Costs for employee sick time, litigation, and replacing staff are skyrocketing. The word has gone around about how you treat people, so new staffers receive “combat pay” just to take the job. Plus, bottom line profits are directly impacted by the job satisfaction levels of employees. Bullying is very expensive.
Convinced to turn things around? Here are five things to do about it.
- Hire a counselor or coach who specializes in bullying behaviors.
- Have one on ones with your most valuable co-workers and give them permission to tell you the truth. Really. Take notes.
- Apologize to those you have hurt. Sincerity counts.
- Speak with your HR department to set realistic and actionable policies regarding bullying. Involve your co-workers in the creation of these policies and then work with HR to post them on your website.
- Encourage your co-workers to openly communicate with you as often as needed. Emphasize that they will not receive retribution.
The bad news is that you have been a bully. The good news is that you made it to the end of this blog post in the hopes of finding the reasons to make a change. If you are still in doubt about whether you are a bully, just ask your co-workers. Their eyes will say it all.