Tips for Dealing with Workplace Bullying

Bernie Althofer is an Educator and Managing Director of EGL I Assessments Pty Ltd.

Bernie has recently completed his latest book on dealing with Workplace Bullying which is shortly to be released. (I will keep you up to date with details of where you can access Bernie’s work.)

Bernie has been kind enough to share an article around his book, “Survival questions and helpful hints to resolve the dangerous epidemics and systemic breeding cultures that are workplace bullying” The piece is full of guidelines and questions for handling workplace bullying, so it will need to be cut into sections for the website. Here is the first part:

The mention of workplace bullying conjures up all sorts of images about victims and alleged bullies.  Most States and Territories within Australia have introduced legislation and/or codes of practices that employees at all levels can and should use to detect, prevent and resolve these insidious practices.

Most organisations recognise that workplace bullying has significant health and safety implications that impact on the ability to provide quality services.  Organisations also recognise that negative publicity generated through workplace bullying incidents will have an impact on corporate and individual reputations.

When a workplace bullying incident occurs, it is not just the victim and the alleged bully who are involved.  Workplace bullying also involves the organisation, the medical and legal professionals, the family/friends and associates, the investigators and the media.

How does each of these respond?  I would suggest that some respond poorly and some exceptionally well. 

Workplace bullying is a complex issue that involves a diverse range of contributing factors where there is no simple or standard response.  Preparation and prevention can be the keys to reducing the risk of physical and psychological trauma that may occur to individuals.

Is a workplace bullying policy enough? No.  The workplaces of today are different to those that existed 20 years ago, and will be different to those in ten years time.  The international arena in relation to health and safety and the way in which directors and senior managers are now being taken to task and asked to explain their commitment to health and safety before a jury places more onus on organisations to address workplace bullying.

How should organisations and individuals respond?  There are no set formulae that can be used to respond to each and every possible situation where someone perceives they are being bullied.

However, as part of the prevention and detection process, asking questions can be very effective.  The questions that will be asked will depend on how confident an individual feels and whether or not the organisation has a culture that allows the questions.

When a workplace bullying incident occurs, it may the culmination of a series of events or workplace conflict that suddenly flares up and results in an allegation being made.  Irrespective of who is involved, most questions will revolve around the old standards – who, what, when, why, where or how.  As many people will realise, these questions are not only the realm of detectives, investigators or auditors.

These questions are generally not found in policy or procedural documents except to outline certain responsibilities and actions to be taken.

The resolution of workplace bullying involves a complex range of questions that will be asked by the victim, the alleged bully, and many of the other people involved. A number of personnel can be exposed when a workplace bullying incident occurs.

Chapters of the book are devoted to each of the personnel involved and each chapter is related to one or more other chapters. A series of helpful hints are also included in the book and in many cases, the implementation of these could reduce the short, medium and long term effects of a workplace incident.

What are the questions and hints? …

You’ll find an indepth list on the next segment of Bernie’s article, so stay tuned. Thank you Bernie – and we’re looking forward to when your work is published.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

Comments (1)

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  1. Adrian Galea says:

    I was lucky enough to have a preview of Bernie’s book and found it insightful and easy to read. I look forward to the book’s release.

    Adrian Galea
    Convenor CPNQ 2008

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