Assessment: Does your management style facilitate bullying?

by Jun 27, 2018

Yikes. I know this subject line isn’t pretty.

I know you aren’t intentionally doing anything that would facilitate bad behavior in your workplace. After all, we’re all working towards better, more positive workplaces.

But, the hard truth is that it’s entirely possible there are things you’re doing, or not doing, that opens the door for behaviors like incivility or bullying to occur.

That’s why we put together this quick assessment for you. Take two minutes to check-in with yourself, and see if there are ways to improve your work environment just by making some simple tweaks to your behavior.

And here are five subtle signs your management style might actually be facilitating bullying, without your even realizing it:

#1 You avoid employee conflict

Do you readily step in when negative behavior occurs, even when it’s legal behavior?

It’s easy to defer to compliance when negative or uncomfortable moments take place, and tell yourself that the behavior isn’t illegal so there’s nothing you can do. But it is your duty as a manager to take responsibility for issues that arise in your work teams.

When you wait for employees to solve problems themselves or be forgotten about, you open the door for conflict to escalate into bullying. It is entirely possible one person will eventually overpower the other.

Instead, be open to talk to employees about conflict and help them resolve it. Ask questions. Play close attention. Listen carefully. Offer suggestions for resolution.

#2 You are super busy

It’s true: You are busy and your to-do list is ever-growing.

But, you’ve got to make time to manage your team. If you don’t make time to meet with them and find what’s happening in the undercurrent everything else falls apart – engagement, performance, attendance, team relationships…

You know this already, but be sure to make time to give feedback regularly (both good and bad), praise employees who exhibit positive behavior, be kind and approachable even during your most stressful days, and practice patience and understanding.

#3 You allow or even encourage competition

There is a ton of research out there on what types of organizational factors facilitate bullying, and competition is one that comes up time and again.

Healthy competition is certainly okay; I know many organizations have steps, exercise, and weight contests to encourage employees into healthier lifestyles. But when the competition is for sales goals, for example, and the team is allowed to violate the rules of sportsmanship, it can get ugly real quick.

Enron’s story is an extreme example, but they fired the bottom 10% of salespeople every quarter (among many other bad practices), and they will go down in pop culture history as one of the nastiest companies to have ever existed.

If you have any type of competition happening in your workplace, take a step back and assess whether it’s good ol’ fashioned fun or causing negative behavior.

#4 You’ve lost sight of “the vibe”

“Your vibe affects your tribe.” Not sure who coined that phrase, but it’s deep in truth.

And that means you have to focus on your, and the team’s, vibe – all the time. If you’re having a rough day, find time to take a breath and encourage others to do the same. Ensure team goals are balanced with employee well-being. And keep a relatively “flat” management style, where titles matter less than commitment, quality and interpersonal skills.

It’s also important to build an action plan, however simple it might be, around positivity, health and core values. By simple I mean you don’t have to have a 10-page long strategic plan. Even a checklist of fun, exciting, and team building activities and actions will do.

How can you be sure you’re setting the tone for a happy, healthy, and positive work environment?

#5 You aren’t having fun

Fun and work go hand in hand. At least they do here at Civility Partners, and they should at your organization, too.

Just yesterday we had the radio playing and were singing along to the songs. We plan on having pajama day, and we have cooky motivational quotes on our kitchen wall. We also like to eat lunch together when we can, and of course, do happy hour once in a while.

Work can be hard, stressful, overwhelming, challenging… and fun. After all, we’re there for 8-10 hours a day! We might as well laugh while we’re at it!

Bottom line is I know you aren’t intentionally doing anything that would create a culture of workplace bullying… but there may be subtle things happening around you that allow it to creep in. Bullying is, after all, insidious.

So download our 18 question assessment to check where you’re at. You may get a few ideas for small tweaks that could have big impact.

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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