13 signs there’s bullying in your workplace and what to do about it

by Feb 16, 2016

You think there’s bullying in your workplace but not sure.

Or you know there’s bullying and trying to figure out how to prove it to your boss.

Or your boss told you not to worry about the bullying because goals are still being met.

Or your boss told you to work out an action plan to solve the bullying this year.

If one of these sounds familiar, then I’ve got something for you. Here’s a list of things that happen when there’s negative behaviors at work, in no particular order.

  1. Reluctance to participate in meetings or after work socials
  2. Work-arounds in order to avoid interaction; or requests to change shifts or move desks
  3. Absenteeism or resignations from good people
  4. Confusion (e.g., removal from a project without explanation; frequent misunderstandings about work instructions)
  5. Frequent angry outbursts
  6. Arbitrary punishment (e.g., a write-up for being two minutes late)
  7. Unhealthy competition for attention, money, bonuses, etc.
  8. Favorites or cliques; clear division among the team
  9. Unresolved conflict; tension between employees, work shifts or departments
  10. Frequent miscommunication
  11. Lack of results from people, both in quality and quantity
  12. Hazing, practical jokes or sarcasm that seems to be getting out of hand
  13. People who were once great employees are all of a sudden receiving poor performance evaluations

If you can point to these issues in your conversations with your boss, then you might get buy-in that workplace bullying is a costly problem. If you already have buy-in, they can serve as a place to start in developing your action plan.

What to do about it

The list of “to-do’s” is long, but one thing you can do now is ensure your already existing harassment training includes information about bullying, as well as behaving in a professional way.

Too often, harassment training is focused on how the law defines harassment, and what not to do. But it’s so, so much more important to focus on what you should be doing instead.

So at your next harassment training – or even at your next staff meeting – spark up a conversation about what professionalism means in your workplace.  I’m happy to offer some tips to help you get started. Just shoot me a message.

Do you know how much money chronically bad behavior costs your company? Spoiler alert – it’s a LOT higher than you want it to be. Download our data and worksheet to see how it’s costing your organization and what you can do to fix it.

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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