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.

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.

Do you have formal buddy system in place for your new hires?

New hire buddy systems fail when expectations of buddies are not clear, and agendas aren’t provided, so people don’t really know what to do.

As someone who specializes in coaching abrasive and aggressive leaders, I’ve noticed some patterns. Topics that continue to come up in my coaching sessions time and again. Get this. There are things your organization could be doing that actually facilitate bullying. I...

Resolving Conflict: A Case Study

One of our clients had two employees who were struggling to get along. Both employees were key contributors, and the business owner was desperate for them to resolve their differences. It all started when one employee (I’ll call her Susan) was quick to email out...

Four Steps to Dealing with Difficult People

Difficult people are everywhere. It’s likely you have encountered someone at work who struggles to connect with others in a positive way, whether because they are a downer, a one-upper, a gossip, or other reason. While difficult people come in many forms, they all...

Latest book, SEEKING CIVILITY, is released!

I have just released my latest book, SEEKING CIVILITY: How leaders, managers and HR can create a workplace free of bullying and abusive conduct. I thought I'd throw up a few excerpts for interest: What Bullying Is Bullying is repeated abuse that creates a...

What Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Really Mean

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are essential to creating a positive work environment where employees are happy and thriving. We work with organizations to assess and address any issues related to DEI, and we provide training and resources to help create a...

5 Action Items for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Building a healthy workplace where employees feel appreciated and respected requires, among other things, making it diverse and inclusive. It is essential for organizations that want to attract and retain top talent, foster innovation, and stay competitive in today's...

Toxic Work Culture: Three Behaviors That Contribute

Way before working at Civility Partners, I suffered from a toxic work culture. Even though I loved my job, it was very tiring—emotionally, mentally, and physically. The work environment was very unhealthy, and because of that, I made the best decision of my life by...

15 Tiny Habits To Kick Off Your New Year

If you’re anything like me, you kick off your New Year with all the lofty resolutions you can think of. In theory, it’s a great way to be intentional about your future. My problem in checking off those resolutions (and maybe yours, too) is twofold. First, I set...