Blaming workplace bullying on the generational gap is a cop-out

A question I get asked a lot is: What happens when the older workforce (who understands the value of hard work) holds the young people accountable to certain standards, and then those young people go crying that they are bullied?

The answer is:
Blaming the generational gap is a cop-out. But, this question highlights the importance of workplace culture.

Focus on building a certain kind of culture that celebrates a certain kind of performance, and then focus on hiring in people who already live that culture – no matter their age. Whether the culture is focused on work/life balance and having fun, or long hours and performance metrics, or something in between, there’s people of all ages at both ends of the spectrum who fit in.

The problem is that most of us aren’t even sure what our organization’s culture is, so how can we focus on hiring people who fit in?

How to do it:  
Think about how your organization is setting performance expectations. Are they clearly outlined somewhere? How does someone know if they aren’t measuring up before it’s too late? Are you positive all of your managers are great expectation-setters?

Once clear expectations are set, if an employee isn’t living up the manager should move into the role of performance coach. That means providing clear and concise information about what employees are doing well, what they should work on, what resources will be provided to help them, and when the improvements must be made.

This is coaching, not bullying.

And I promise, no one has ever said, “I felt bullied during our coaching sessions.” What they DO say is, “I was berated, told ‘I suck,’ and I watched her throw my work in the garbage can in front of my team.”

Bottom line:
If your organization has a solid performance management process in place, and if your managers know how to set clear expectations and coach their employees, no one will tie bullying to performance conversations… or generational gaps for that matter.