Guest post by Peter J. Dean, co-author with Molly D. Shepard, of The Bully-Proof Workplace: Essential Strategies, Tips, and Scripts for Dealing with the Office Sociopath.
If you’ve met with your boss about bullying in the workplace and he or she is boss non-responsive, unwilling or unable to help you, then the person you approach next must be trustworthy—and someone who will receive the information without retaliating. As with your boss, your concerns must be presented in light of their impact on the productivity of the company, not your personal gain.
In other words, you must convey that if this kind of bullying behavior is allowed to continue it will slow-down productivity of both you and others in the organization. It must be made clear that your personal agenda is to be able to contribute your very best to the goals of the organization.
Here is a list of stakeholders you might consider taking into your confidence as you pursue dealing with the bully:
Anyone who has seen you being bullied or is also a target of your bully can be an excellent ally to collaborate with on steps to prevent further incidents. Witnesses can absorb the negativity of bullying and project it into their own circles especially if they don’t do anything. It is like catching a cold and passing it on. Without witnesses taking action, the bully behavior is reinforced and will keep on happening.
Because they know you and the organization you work in, these co-workers may be able to suggest ways to better respond to the situation or help to put the bullying into perspective. By taking them into your confidence and asking for their advice, they may also be supportive when bullying occurs.
The Leadership Team
This group is typically closer to the ground and will see and hear bullying behavior before HR becomes aware of it. They can be approached if others have been spoken to and no action has been taken. Suggest ways to share with a senior leader your concern without sounding whiny or vengeful.
Human Resources promises to secure and promote a healthy working environment for the employees. But if you don’t have specific examples of both the harassment and the steps you’ve already taken to remediate the situation, they may not take your complaint seriously. HR needs to see that you have made an attempt yourself to confront the bully. Critical incidents, involving the circumstances, the actual behavior of the bully and the consequence of those behaviors must be collected.
Peter J. Dean MS PhD and Molly D. Shepard MS MSM are partners in the Leaders Edge/Leaders By Design, a leadership development and executive coaching firm that is dedicated to helping C-suite executive and high-potential leaders enhance their skills including the ability to embrace understand and leverage the complexities inherent in the modern workforce. The company’s coaching protocols are based on research that they conduct on a regular basis.