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Topics: Ethics
Bullying in projects: take stand or ignore? Will it go away?
Bullying can be as harmful in the workplace as it is in schools, causing well-understood emotional and physical impacts, plus a long list of challenges for employees and organizations. When a bully is operating in a project, the immediate impact is on the team.
While we understand this, in the whirl of the project, under the pressure of deadlines, we often choose to ignore it and overlook the possible toxic effect. Since sometimes taking a stand against will cause even more disturbance, should we just forget it and focus on our concrete project problems?
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Topics like this are hard to talk about for multiple reasons. Mainly because bulling definition depends on cultural environment and perception of the person that it supposed is receiving bulling. So, I think the topic has to be discussed with a highest level of abstraction putting it inside the rules of convivence stated by the society and the organization itself.
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1 reply by Simona Bonghez
Oct 14, 2020 4:14 PM
Simona Bonghez
...
Thank you for your comment, Sergio. I fully agree that culture has an important role, but I see its impact on the way we react in a bullying situation and not linked to the definition of bullying.
I would love to see here comments that support any of these perspectives, this is why we start discussions here: to find out the different perspectives and to enrich ours.
Simona -

If we want a mediocre team, we can stick our heads in the sands and hope the problem will stop. Bullying is just one of the behaviors which leaders need to challenge if they wish to cultivate psychological safety within their teams.

Kiron
...
1 reply by Simona Bonghez
Oct 14, 2020 4:17 PM
Simona Bonghez
...
Great point, Kiron. I also believe that it is the leader responsibility to create and maintain a trustful environment, one in which team members feel safe to speak out.
Simona,

like often, it depends.

I have been bullied and I was a bully. I think bullying is rather a (temporary) behavior than a character treat, so generally I would not call somebody a bully. I have seen people bullying in one group and being shy and peaceful in another. Characterizing people as being something creates division and destroys tolerance and diversity.

So, yes, Kiron is right, as a leader (or as a member) I do not want bullying being an acceptable behavior in the culture of the team. People should feel safe and respected and then trust can grow. Bullying behavior should be forbidden in the team charter. And the values from PMI's Code of Ethics lay the ground for this: respect, fairness and partly honesty.
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1 reply by Simona Bonghez
Oct 14, 2020 4:32 PM
Simona Bonghez
...
Thank you, Thomas. I agree that being a bully is not a character trait and this is why I advocate for always finding a way to discuss the situation (not the person) and its impact.
Oct 14, 2020 6:02 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
Topics like this are hard to talk about for multiple reasons. Mainly because bulling definition depends on cultural environment and perception of the person that it supposed is receiving bulling. So, I think the topic has to be discussed with a highest level of abstraction putting it inside the rules of convivence stated by the society and the organization itself.
Thank you for your comment, Sergio. I fully agree that culture has an important role, but I see its impact on the way we react in a bullying situation and not linked to the definition of bullying.
I would love to see here comments that support any of these perspectives, this is why we start discussions here: to find out the different perspectives and to enrich ours.
...
1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Oct 14, 2020 4:52 PM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
I was involved from more than 20 years ago in project where when I see the way people interact each other really made me sick mainly the way men interact with woman. When I tried to change it I understood is a matter of culture. What made me sick is a common practice in some countries or regions. And believe me, I interacted with well known, high level people, some of them is putting in publications as a model of follow. So, it is a matter of culture to deal with that. No matter that, in my personal experience, what I did is to quit this initiatives no matter the amount of money or any other things that stay into them means to me.
Oct 14, 2020 8:41 AM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Simona -

If we want a mediocre team, we can stick our heads in the sands and hope the problem will stop. Bullying is just one of the behaviors which leaders need to challenge if they wish to cultivate psychological safety within their teams.

Kiron
Great point, Kiron. I also believe that it is the leader responsibility to create and maintain a trustful environment, one in which team members feel safe to speak out.
Oct 14, 2020 10:18 AM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
...
Simona,

like often, it depends.

I have been bullied and I was a bully. I think bullying is rather a (temporary) behavior than a character treat, so generally I would not call somebody a bully. I have seen people bullying in one group and being shy and peaceful in another. Characterizing people as being something creates division and destroys tolerance and diversity.

So, yes, Kiron is right, as a leader (or as a member) I do not want bullying being an acceptable behavior in the culture of the team. People should feel safe and respected and then trust can grow. Bullying behavior should be forbidden in the team charter. And the values from PMI's Code of Ethics lay the ground for this: respect, fairness and partly honesty.
Thank you, Thomas. I agree that being a bully is not a character trait and this is why I advocate for always finding a way to discuss the situation (not the person) and its impact.
Oct 14, 2020 4:14 PM
Replying to Simona Bonghez
...
Thank you for your comment, Sergio. I fully agree that culture has an important role, but I see its impact on the way we react in a bullying situation and not linked to the definition of bullying.
I would love to see here comments that support any of these perspectives, this is why we start discussions here: to find out the different perspectives and to enrich ours.
I was involved from more than 20 years ago in project where when I see the way people interact each other really made me sick mainly the way men interact with woman. When I tried to change it I understood is a matter of culture. What made me sick is a common practice in some countries or regions. And believe me, I interacted with well known, high level people, some of them is putting in publications as a model of follow. So, it is a matter of culture to deal with that. No matter that, in my personal experience, what I did is to quit this initiatives no matter the amount of money or any other things that stay into them means to me.
...
1 reply by Simona Bonghez
Oct 15, 2020 1:27 PM
Simona Bonghez
...
These are exactly the situations I was referring when asking if it is the case to take stand. And you did, no matter the financial consequences, chapeux bas! I'm sure that it was not an easy decision.
My point is that if all of us - who understand and are aware of these situation - we refuse to ignore, than maybe we can change the perspective of others, making them aware, pointing out that this is not something that we can overlook.
One person's assertiveness is another person's bullying. As a manager or leader sometimes one has to direct, establish expectations and evaluate which can easily be perceived as bullying.

Maybe that's the difference between the science of leadership and the art of leadership - being able to lead and achieve what you set out to achieve without the perception of bullying.
...
1 reply by Simona Bonghez
Oct 15, 2020 1:20 PM
Simona Bonghez
...
Thank you, Peter, for your comment. In order to correctly identify a bullying situation we do have a tool, available on pmi.org website ( https://www.pmi.org/about/ethics/resources/bully). It helps distinguish a competitive, ill-mannered, or challenging personality from a workplace bully.
Oct 15, 2020 9:38 AM
Replying to Peter Rapin
...
One person's assertiveness is another person's bullying. As a manager or leader sometimes one has to direct, establish expectations and evaluate which can easily be perceived as bullying.

Maybe that's the difference between the science of leadership and the art of leadership - being able to lead and achieve what you set out to achieve without the perception of bullying.
Thank you, Peter, for your comment. In order to correctly identify a bullying situation we do have a tool, available on pmi.org website ( https://www.pmi.org/about/ethics/resources/bully). It helps distinguish a competitive, ill-mannered, or challenging personality from a workplace bully.
Oct 14, 2020 4:52 PM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
I was involved from more than 20 years ago in project where when I see the way people interact each other really made me sick mainly the way men interact with woman. When I tried to change it I understood is a matter of culture. What made me sick is a common practice in some countries or regions. And believe me, I interacted with well known, high level people, some of them is putting in publications as a model of follow. So, it is a matter of culture to deal with that. No matter that, in my personal experience, what I did is to quit this initiatives no matter the amount of money or any other things that stay into them means to me.
These are exactly the situations I was referring when asking if it is the case to take stand. And you did, no matter the financial consequences, chapeux bas! I'm sure that it was not an easy decision.
My point is that if all of us - who understand and are aware of these situation - we refuse to ignore, than maybe we can change the perspective of others, making them aware, pointing out that this is not something that we can overlook.
...
1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Oct 15, 2020 2:26 PM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
@Simona, it is difficult to write this because as I mentioned, in my personal experience, country culture impacts a lot on how things are interpreted or perceived because as you know, this type of things, at the end, is a mater of perception or intepretation which is subjective. But with that said, some basic rules drive my way of thinking and behave: 1-do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you. 2-I have a wife, daughter and son and I never accept from anyone, no matter their position or level of importance, that they treat others as I do not like that my wife, son, or daughter are treated or that they treat others. But as I mentioned, I learned along the years, that those things which are
that are aberrant in my culture are normal in other cultures, which is unacceptable to me but I must try to understand the dynamics of that belief system and after that act in consequence.
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