Bullies in Workplace Take Toll on Team
While stress in the workplace strikes individuals, it can also make itself felt on a whole team, especially when the team leader is a bully.
Let’s look at two workplace teams: Team A is led by Joyce, a true leader.
• She delegates work, showing that she trusts others to make decisions.
• She solicits input from her team, listens to their ideas and often acts on them.
• She helps the team set goals and is the first to reward the team for achievement.
• When a deadline looms, she’s in the office with the rest of the team, working to accomplish the tasks.
• When the team talks about her, they use words like, “well-organized” and “generous.” Some say she is a “visionary” — a creative thinker that can mobilize people to do a good job.
Team B has a different dynamic. Led by Jane, the team slogs along from day to day, not knowing what crisis will come next.
• Jane assigns work based on whom she likes. Distrustful of others, she tries to do all the work herself.
• As a deadline looms, she panics and chooses a few key people to “bail her out.” She openly criticizes the others in meetings or in casual conversation with the “chosen ones.”
• She encourages team members to compete against each other by rewarding those she likes and ignoring those she doesn’t.
• Often she chooses one person as an example of everything that’s wrong with the team and blames them for whatever she couldn’t handle herself.
• When the team talks about her, they use words like, “bully” and “vindictive.” The team is floundering under her misdirection, and all the team members are experiencing high degrees of stress.
If Jane’s team were a human body, we’d say it was “sick,” or experiencing the effects of stress in the workplace. Is it any reason that people on Jane’s team…
• Frequently miss work, placing the burden on others to complete tasks?
• Feel demoralized and are unwilling to come forward with new ideas, which they know will not be accepted?
• Assume they know what to do and how to do it, because they’re afraid to ask?
• Fail to address real issues, because they know Jane can’t “handle” it?
What can you do if you’re on Jane’s team? What do you do when your boss or team leader is one of the bullies in the workplace? Try the “Mutiny on the Bounty” approach by working as a team on a solution.
• With your teammates, decide a list of behaviors you want your boss to stop doing. Decide the behaviors you want instead.
• Have two people approach her and put forward these desires, because there is strength in numbers. More than three is too many–she will feel like you are ganging up on her, may not ‘hear’ you and, therefore, may be closed to any change.
• If the “two” do not work, then take the whole team and approach her with two talking representatives.
• When you approach her, give her the benefit of the doubt. Mention that you know how stressful things can be–then get into the issues.
• After you give the feedback, thank her.
The bottom line is that the company isn’t getting the best results from Jane’s team. By working together a team can help to change Jane’s behavior and reduce stress caused by bullies in the workplace.
Valerie Cade, Founder
Bully Free at Work