Let’s address workplace bullying

Bullies suck. 

That kid at school who steals your lunch money. Or the one who calls you names. Or the teacher who shames you in front of the class… Yeah, bullies come in all shapes and sizes.

But what about bullies in the workplace?

Over the past week, multiple people told me they’re being bullied at work. They used phrases like someone is ‘challenging to work with’ or ‘has strong opinions’. But let’s be honest, in many cases it’s plain and simple bullying.

Let's be honest, in many cases it's plain and simple workplace bullying. Click To Tweet

A guy I know works for someone who uses their position of power to disparage him in front of colleagues and prohibits him from expanding his personal network (eg tying him to the job). To me this is bullying.

A woman I know had an employee ‘make friends’ with a senior colleague, then convinced this friend to spread rumors that she wasn’t a capable manager. To me this is bullying.

Another friend told me they felt obliged by superiors to stay out late drinking night after night while traveling for work. To me this is bullying.

Most recently, someone said their boss pokes fun of how they dress. To me this is bullying.

Child bullying both at school and online has been a hot topic in recent years. It feels like the public acknowledges the problem and has put solutions in place both to suss out bullies and support those affected.

Why hasn’t workplace bullying been addressed?

Don’t bully parents lead to bully children? Could we stop this vicious cycle at the source? Yet, how many companies even define what workplace bullying is, no less have a procedure to take action against bullying?

Don't bully parents lead to bully children? Could we stop this vicious cycle at the source? Click To Tweet

HR policies mainly focus on sexual harassment, bribery, etc – slightly more cut and dry situations. The subtle tactics bullies take to exert power, intimidate, or humiliate are difficult to report, but lay the groundwork for a toxic culture. They also often directly lead to more serious infractions.

Companies should have a plan in place to ensure their culture doesn’t accept bullying. Add an anti-bullying policy to your handbook. Include a question in your 360 reviews for bullying feedback. Highlight examples of unacceptable subtle bullying behavior during onboarding.

Most importantly, don’t treat bullying as two colleagues simply not getting along. Someone being bullied doesn’t want to directly ‘face’ their bully – that’s the problem… bullies are HARD to face! HR needs to directly address the bully, communicate the unacceptable behaviors, and set immediate corrective actions that if not followed will lead to termination.

Nobody should begin their day worried about being bullied. We seem to acknowledge this for children, now it’s time to move to the workplace.

Nobody should begin their day worried about being bullied. We seem to acknowledge this for children, now it's time to move to the workplace. Click To Tweet

I love August

August in Europe

Yesterday was the first weekday this year when I had nothing in my calendar.

No meetings, calls, coffees, flights… nothing. It was GLORIOUS!!!

Every year I tell myself I’ll schedule 1 full day each week with no planned activities so I can clear my mind, think strategically, and work on long-term projects. Until yesterday it had been 215 days in 2016 with no such free days. Shame on me.

The great thing about Europe is almost everyone is on vacation the entire month. Since the summer holiday in some countries starts mid July and in others it lasts until early September, so it’s actually closer to 6 weeks of relative downtime.

I know American’s look down on this ‘frivolous’ European month of time off, but for me it’s great. Not only can I reliably catch up on things, it’s as if those of us who work get a slight leg up on the competition (whoever that may be). Kind of like getting up early to shoot hoops while everyone else sleeps.

Remember, the European norm is 25 days off a year. So from a GDP standpoint it really does make sense if most people are generally away at the same time. The alternative for a 10 person team is someone being gone every day of the year, which certainly seems less productive.

How will I spend the rest of my August? With Tara heading back to the US to meet her sister’s first child and 5 more days with a free schedule, I’ll have plenty of time for whatever I choose.

The past few days I used my extra time to write. I find having the time to write concisely forces me to think deeper than usual about a topic. Incredibly enough I have 130 blog ideas in my Evernote, so lets see how writing at least 1 hour a day goes and maybe I can get a few of the better posts up.