Banishing The Bully – Part 2

Recognize Bullying before it hurts

This second post in the Banishing the Bully series is about Spotting Bullying Behavioral Patterns. Click here to read Part 1. The series, based on a course taught by our co-Managing Partner, Jeff Adelson, focuses on confronting the hidden threat of workplace bullying in the hospitality sector.

In any organization, bullying can take many forms, ranging from obvious schoolyard tactics to subtle actions that are often more difficult to spot, but can have the same effects on employees, their performance and the organization. In a national survey, the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 19% of adults said they’d personally been bullied at work, while another 19% said they’d seen it happen to someone else. According to that survey, 61% of workplace bullies are bosses.

Bullying Characteristics

Some of the more typical behavioral patterns that risk management, claims executives, attorneys and human resources professionals might look for include the following:

  • Ongoing name-calling or derogatory statements aimed at specific individuals, or groups or classes of employees.
  • Constant questioning about an employee’s effort or commitment to performing his or her job up to the standards enforced by immediate supervisors or that may be spelled out in job descriptions or performance evaluations.
  • Undermining accomplishments of individuals or work groups. Even when employees do meet their goals, supervisors fail to provide recognition and instead may attribute their success to other factors, such as superior performance by other groups involved in the work process, new equipment, better work tools, weather conditions, etc.
  • Changing task-specific performance evaluation criteria. When goals are accomplished, Supervisors may shuffle priorities and evaluate performance based on a different set of criteria than what the employee initially expected.

A comprehensive article from stresses that “criticism or monitoring isn’t always bullying. For example, objective and constructive criticism and disciplinary action directly related to workplace behavior or job performance aren’t considered bullying. But criticism meant to intimidate, humiliate, or single someone out without reason would be considered bullying.”

Early warning signs of workplace bullying:

  • Co-workers ignoring or avoiding you, or becoming quiet when you enter a room.
  • Being left out of team-building and office events.
  • Over-monitoring by managers and supervisors without a clear reason.
  • Monitoring to the point that you begin to doubt your abilities, so this self-doubt permeates your other regular tasks.
  • Assignment of tasks outside your typical duties without answering your requests for training or help. This may be combined with ridicule and criticism when you can’t complete the tasks.
  • A pattern of missing files, documents, or personal belongings.

Healthline Magazine shares that “it’s common to feel powerless” when dealing with a workplace bully, like you are “and unable to do anything to stop it and wonder who to tell.” While specific actions will be addressed in a future post, the most important thing to remember is that bullying is never your fault.

Please contact us for training on bullying in the workplace at jadelson(at)adelsonmclean(com).

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