Dealing with a workplace bully is an inevitable challenge you will face as your business grows and your staff strength along with it. We’ve said a lot earlier on motivation, team building, and cultural diversity. All your efforts in these areas could go in vain if you have a bully loose in the office.
A bully is often a person whose major (and often only) claim to fame is their bad behavior. They’re the ones no one wants to hang out with, let alone take into confidence. And yet, as the boss of the business, you may be the last to know about this person’s behavior in your office. Care to find out? Look out for some telltale signs.
Putting people down: That’s as classic a symptom as any. A workplace bully is always seizing an opportunity to belittle his or her co-workers. The slightest error is blown out of proportion, and not necessarily in private either. And, oh yes, personal insults are definitely part of their stock in trade.
Butting in: Have you noticed how some guys constantly interrupt others in team meetings? Or don’t even give people a chance to finish their question, before launching into an elaborate answer. Office nasties like this will snatch every bit of verbal space they can find.
Baring one’s teeth: Look between the eyebrows of the workplace bully – nine times out of ten, you’ll find a frown lurking. Other facial expressions of choice include the grimace, the wince and but naturally, the look of exaggerated surprise!
Rating: This is my personal favorite. As the big boss, you should expect to see a number of these types floating around you. The ones that strategically strike a conversation in the washroom, like “Say, John, do you really think that Sarah is the right person to handle the Parsons account? I hear that her team escaped a major crisis of its own making last week …you mean you don’t know?”
Grabbing credit: You can easily tell the workplace bully from the rest – he is the one who queues up first when the bouquets are being thrown around and the first to slink out the door when its time for brickbats. Don’t put it past them to sink their teammates to save their own skins.
Writing nasty: In this day of easy email, the office nasties have gotten inventive. The “cc monster” shoots out intimidating emails to subordinates with copies marked to all the senior managers listed in his or her address book. It’s easy to spot one who does this – you’re sure to be on the recipient list.
Not funny: And we close on a humorous note, except that it’s not-so-funny. Workplace Bullies love to laugh… at others. Needless to say, they laugh alone.
While you can use these hints to identify the unpleasant elements in your office, make sure you don’t carry it to the other extreme. All of us are prone to unpleasant behavior of some sort, especially during times of stress. Don’t be so quick to label someone as a workplace bully. Observe their behavior over a few weeks and then take appropriate action.