- SHOCKING - The numbers are staggering - according to the Balance Careers 60-million Americans are affected by workplace bullying. 60-MILLION AMERICANS! Bullying doesn’t just occur in America – it is a global issue. In January, I posted a PMI poll question on this site asking if others have experienced bullying in the workplace and 77% of responders said YES, they have encountered bullying.
- CONFLICT IS NOT BULLYING - Conflict is important for project success – as project managers we strive to create an environment where differences of opinion and perspectives are encouraged.
- BULLYING IS - Unwanted, aggressive and disrespectful behavior used to control or harm others and this negative behavior is repeated over time. It often escalates and corporations can brush it off as a “leadership style”. Clive Boddy presented a TED Talk about these bullies he calls “corporate psychopaths” working in all industries creating chaos and confusion to forge their own careers and agendas by bullying.
- VICTIMS - When we were kids, the bully on the playground often picked on the smallest, weakest, or the child who was different in some way. As adults in the workplace, however, the bully often targets someone skilled, popular, kind, ethical and honest. The workplace bully thrives on watching victims squirm.
- WHAT IT FEELS LIKE - The pain of bullying is the worst part with victims reporting very real health issues ranging from dread and worry, shame and exhaustion to disrupted sleep, PTSD, migraines and even suicidal ideations. Victims feel powerless and are suffering. This is unacceptable.
- HIGHER ED – Research by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group indicate higher education organizations are at risk for fostering workplace bullying. We hear of military hazing, in healthcare there is a known phrase about “nurses eating their young” and bullying even occurs in the legal profession. In many industries, hostile behaviors are well known and surprisingly these industries are often in fields of higher education.
- SUBTLE BULLYING – PM BULLYING? – Do we ever assign work before knowing if the timelines are reasonable? Do we only discuss problems, errors or issues without celebrating milestones or acknowledging the efforts of others? Do we understand harsh teasing, spreading rumors/ gossiping, ignoring individuals or even getting in the personal space of others can be lesser forms of bullying?
- COST OF BULLYING – Bullying isn’t just hurting the individual. Bullying tears down company culture by increasing absenteeism and decreasing presenteeism. It influences healthcare costs. Beyond this, it affects employee turnover, can lead to litigation……and for us project managers, bullying can directly lead to project failure.
- WHAT CAN YOU DO? - Lead by example. As a project manager, help your company create zero tolerance policies around bullying. Enable conversations about bullying – create awareness. Do not tolerate bullying in your meetings and quickly confront bullying when witnessing it by standing your ground without emotion – use the facts and document every time witnessing or encountering bullying behavior. Hold bullies accountable for their behavior with disciplinary consequences and make this part of your organization’s cultural values and norms. Make a stand!
Posted on: June 05, 2019 06:57 PM