IT Employment

How to detect and protect against workplace bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. In recognition of that, we offer an examination of the effects of bullying in the workplace and tips for recognizing whether you are a bully.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. In honor of that and in an effort to further raise awareness about workplace bullying, we have a guest piece from Rakesh Malhotra, the founder of Five Global Values, a world-traveled, values-driven business leader who specializes in organization behavior.

Stories of workplace bullying are commonplace throughout the United States.

Some real-life examples:

Mavis: "When I started there, I was told that someone had been acting in the position and had expected to get the job. This person continually undermined me and turned other staff against me. I endured 12 months of hell, and felt as if I was sinking in quicksand."

A male employee at a different company: "The misery took over my whole life. I turned nasty and bitter and treated my wife and kids like whipping posts. After many visits to a psychologist, I was able to think of all the positive things in my life. Now I look back and think I wouldn't want to go through that experience again."

In general, there are no legal repercussions for non-physical bullying except in specific cases, such as sexual harassment. In fact, bullying is a character trait that tends to be condoned in American society. Consider our national obsession -- football. The object of this celebrated game is to get the ball to the other player's goal, no matter what it takes: trampling, hitting, pushing, screaming. If football is a metaphor for American society, then the winner is the person who pushes others out of the way and wins no matter the cost.

Bullies win by controlling situations and people around them. They crave power and the attention that comes from getting what they want.

The effects of working with a bully

Adults have a difficult time performing their jobs effectively when subjected to bullying by a co-worker. It takes a toll physically because of our physiological responses to emotional stress. Typically, victims endure feelings of depression, guilt and shame, and they suffer sleep loss and fatigue.  In some cases, victims begin to believe the bully's behavior is warranted, and they develop feelings of worthlessness. They cannot complete tasks at the same level as others in their units.

Victims of bullying may suffer from panic disorders, post traumatic stress syndrome, agoraphobia and stress-induced high blood pressure. If they leave the job or are docked because of resulting lowered performance, they face economic issues. Some take their own lives.

The abuse takes a toll on victims in every way imaginable.

Are you a bully?

Being accused of being the bully can be difficult to accept. You may believe your actions were unintentional, or a justified emotional response to provocation. Perhaps, you see yourself as the only one in the office qualified to do anything right.  However, whatever you have said or done, whether purposefully or not, you have created a culture of negativity for at least one person and you need to honestly assess the situation and your role in it.

Symptoms that you may be the bully include:

  • Insulting a coworker (remember, one person's "joke" may be another's insult).
  • Undermining another employee's work by creating a hostile environment or perhaps by consistently calling their attention to "flaws". (Bullies focus on a person, while constructive criticism focuses on a task.)
  • As an employer, ignoring your employees' suggestions.
  • Humiliating your employee in front of others.

If any of these sound like something that you may be doing, it is important to address this immediately with your victim. You may want to speak with your doctor about getting help, such as counseling, sensitivity training, anger management and other seminars.

It is important to understand the signs and symptoms of a bully in order to help the victim and the victimizer deal with and exterminate the behavior.

If you are a victim, diligently record workplace bullying events. If you choose to make a formal complaint, you will be responsible for providing information should there be charges brought against the bully.

Rakesh's fascination with the connection between human behavior and core values was sparked many years ago. As a result of working, living, and traveling around the world to nearly  40 countries, Rakesh realized that the Five Global Values determine overall human behavior across all cultures. He is also the author of Adventures of Tornado Kid: Whirling Back Home Towards Timeless Values.

88 comments
ali770
ali770

In my experience, WorkSafeBC provides little comfort when investigating [url=http://bit.ly/bullies_suck]Work Place Bullying[/url] claims. One of the investigator stated that, "If we can't control bullying in our workplace how do you think we can do anything about your wife's?" Needless to say I asked him to be removed from the case.

ali770
ali770

Bullying cannot be defended on any reasonable grounds: its expensive; it creates turnover of the best and brightest; it impairs productivity; it damages employee health; it reinforces a workplace culture of destruction; it tarnishes an employers good reputation; and it lowers everyones quality of life and well being. http://bit.ly/bullies_suck

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

Of course, there are ethics to consider, but my metholdology has been to quietly sit by plotting and scheming. Then when there was a failure in the technology of the bully, I usually knew how to fix it, but lacking any real incentive, I would let them stew in their own juices. Or better yet, when a bully caused a major visible failure, I would let everyone wring hands for a bit and then fix the problem in a way that he would not get the credit. Passive aggressive? Maybe. Takes patience, long term planning and vision? Definitely.

crespin79
crespin79

Targets, victims and witnesses of bullying have a few avenues to pursue (as compared with victims of sexual harassment) when subject to repeated and obvious acts of aggression, spreading malicious rumours, excluding someone socially or from certain projects, undermining or impeding a person’s work or opinions, insulting a person’s habits, attitudes, or private life and intruding upon a person’s privacy. Others include being rude or belligerent, destroying property, assaulting an individual, or setting impossible deadlines. Although bullying is recognized as detrimental to occupational health, there is little political or corporate interest in stopping it. In schoolyard bullying, the bullies are children, whose behaviour is controlled by the leaders, i.e. the school administration. In workplace bullying, however, the bullies are often the leaders themselves, i.e., the managers and supervisors. Therefore, reporting a bully to the HR dept, for example, may expose the target/victim to the risk of even more bullying, slower career advancement, or even termination, on the grounds of being a “troublemaker!”. Workplace bullying has severe consequences, including reduced effectiveness and high employee turnover. An employee who suffers any physical or psychiatric injury as a result of workplace bullying can confront the bully, report the bully to the HR department or to the trade union, if any, or bring a claim of negligence and/or a personal injury claim against both the employer and the abusive employee as joint respondents in the claim. If the law does not persuade employers to deal with workplace bullying, the economic reality will persuade them. Training sessions can help when combined with a con?dential reporting structure, but it is difficult to alter the basic nature of some individuals, who may need counselling. Maxwell Pinto, Business Author http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_i_1?rh=k%3Amaxwell+pinto%2Ci%3Adigital-text&keywords=maxwell+pinto&ie=UTF8&qid=1323793453

T3chslave
T3chslave

I've found that the first sign of a bully is they start addressing you by a nickname instead of your first name. Then they start picking apart your performance without any specifics or details, just that you are a "bad employee". Their body language speaks daggers at you and they can ball up a pit in your stomach any time they come around. It's worse when they sense this and at that point it's like a shark smelling blood in the water. They start enjoying themselves from then on. This is what happened to me many years ago at a large company where I worked as a sysadmin. The manager I was assigned to started calling me "Chief" without any provocation and would always pace by my desk like he was sizing me up. It was unnerving to say the least, but of course my "performance was poor" and "my numbers were bad" and that I needed to "step up". When I finally sat down with him and tried to nail down details of everything I was doing wrong and how exactly I could improve myself as an employee, he simply shrugged and just said that I need to work on my performance. That was it. Needless to say, my meeting with his manager didn't go any better as I was dismissed with a look of "please get out of my office". A week later I was demoted to help desk. Two weeks later I quit without notice as I decided the stress on my mind and the toll on my health weren't worth it. I received an email from my former (other) manager asking me what happened that I suddenly left and I told him point-blankly, "I got tired of being bullied." Fortunately I had irons in the fire at the time I left and found a much better job within a couple of weeks. I did find out from a former co-worker a while later that my manager had been "reassigned", meaning he was on his way out or had already been canned. The moral of the story is to always accept that in extreme cases you may have to give up the ghost and to always keep your resume updated. Trying to be a hero and stand up to the bully may have worked great in elementary school but in the workplace it's not so clear cut. Draw your lines, know what's more important to you, your health, your sanity, and your family and never stay tied to a place that could jeopardize any of that

garytech57
garytech57

The 'team sport' of American football is NOT bullying. It is an expression of the human condition, an abstraction we call a 'game', and is celebrated by an overwhelming majority of the American populace. The team that exhibits the best strength, stamina, skill and strategy, and that plays within rules that have been set down and agreed to by those teams, WINS the 'game'! At work or in the schoolyard, individuals are not expected to yell, distract or push their coworker(s) / classmates; In American football, these are part of the strategy! For your edification, bullying is belittling or humiliating an individual or others through verbal or physical transgression, breaking any rules of whatever your Five Global Values are, as well as those rules given to us by our Creator. Indeed, your ignorance or at least distaste of the game and turning it into a crutch for your argument could be considered bullying! Learn about American football and get used to it, and don't use it as a transparent confession of your jealousy of the American celebration of competition, excellence and being #1—traits that have made America the best example of what the rest of the world can aspire to!

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

I never realized that workplace bullying was such a problem. I guess I have been fortunate. I never experienced it or saw it (doesn't mean it wasn't happening). I spent 20 years in the US military and 16 years in the IT industry (two different companies) and never had a problem with it. I've always had decent bosses. I'm doing something else now and still no bullying. I really feel for those going through it. For the record, when I was going through my experience being bullied in Jr High, I decided to see what being a bully was like. I asked a friend to help me. We found a weak kid we felt would be an easy target and we ambushed him on the way home from school. It was mostly threats on our part with a bit of slapping him around. No physical harm came to him. I felt sick to my stomach the whole time and regretted even thinking of it. I didn't sleep well that night. The next day, I went to him and apologized profusely and begged his forgiveness. Fortunately, he understood. I never, ever did that again. Words cannot express how rotten I felt for doing it. I learned that lesson well. i wonder if the bullies have thoughts like that on occasion. Me, I prefer to get along when I can. But I won't tolerate being bullied and will stand up to them. The sooner you do, the sooner they will leave you alone.

wokeap
wokeap

Bullying - I know leaders in Australia whom love the fear and flight tactic. Learning how to effectively deal with authority on this one is hard - particularly if they are working as a gang. With the current trend of networking and info sharing bullying has taken on a whole new twisted damaging collective psyche. Someone said to me the other day "what ever happened to autonomy?". I replied "the same thing tha'st happened to the old original written classics; rewritten into digital archives, destroyed then rewritten with a new copywrite and published as a morphed original, just like droids and zombies that have been created for the droids and zombies".

RW17
RW17

I have been in the IT Consulting world for over a dozen years, in the SAP space. If you don't like bullies, don't become a consultant. Well, no one likes bullies... and we need consultants... but know what you are in for if you do try and become a consultant! This industry is ripe with bullies... and the bullies are the ones who get promoted! Find me 5 project managers, and I will find you 4 bullies! And the worst of them... they get promoted by their firms because they will bully so hard on their subordinates! It's dreadful... because you see this, and you will see the bullies get promoted, so you will bully yourself. While you are getting bullied, you will get sad... depression and low-esteem are rampant in consulting, and most people leave the consulting world with a far worse perception of themselves than when they started! It's a horrible "standard" that I wish would change... I wonder how to change it!

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

It's in the Highest Institutions of the land and works it way down from there. Look at every Parliament in the world and you'll see straight out Bullies running the place and believing that what they do is for the good of all in their country. Probably why they have Parliamentary Privilege to prevent them from being charged with their abuses of power and remain unaccountable for their actions. With that never being addressed there is no hope of stamping out Bulling anywhere. Col

jcitron
jcitron

Going back about 20 years ago now, I worked as a desktop support tech at a large company in Boston. I was with the company two years at the time and was promoted within the computer room to lead operator/group leader. This was a swing shift position which was okay but very exhausting. I did my best and even received an award for my achievements for taking a reactive environment and turning it to a proactive environment. The work paid off because we then got a team award for providing a nearly error-free operation. A time went on, an opportunity came up to move out of that environment and I went for it. There were other candidates and as usual I got the job. There were two of us in the desktop tech department. The other guy, my coworker was there first, even though I was with the company longer, and felt that he was the boss. The first incident which started the ball rolling, took place one afternoon. I was fixing a PC and had parts on the workbench. I got up to get a cup of coffee and came back to find everything put away. He didn't like parts on the table and got into a huff over the parts on the desktop, and I got yelled at for leaving the parts on the desktop. As time went on, he was always too busy for the big projects like departmental moves. I became the tech that worked the weekends, covered the remote offices, and covered the floors. He spent his time on the phone with his friends and trying to boss me around. Vacation time for me? No way. He was supposedly traveling and I had to cover for him, every time. Coming from the swing-shift to regular hours was no picnic, particularly when the hours went from 6-2 Saturday and Sunday with Tuesday to Friday 9:00-6:00. Plus covering all uncovered shifts, including the 2nd and third shifts if somone was out. I went straight to normal business hours with no break! Eventually I got sick from the stress and fatigue. I ended up being out for close to a month with pneumonia and some other virus. He then told HR that I was looking for another job and I had quit. They called me to verify this and found out it was not true, and I got spoken to by my manager about my performance. When I got back to work, it was back to the old business. He couldn't be bothered with the work, and started telling everyone I wasn't a team player, etc. Our manager listened to him rather than me and started saying things again about my performance, because according to my coworker I was slacking off. After working for months like this, I ended up sick again with a relapse of the pneumonia. My coworker then started telling upper management that I wasn't with the company, and at the same time he started calling recruiters to replace me without authorization. It got worse... I was yelled at for leaving tools out, or if the tools moved in the draw to one side, If something was out of place, I got screamed at. I got the wrath. If he had to stay late, I got the wrath. During one big move, he had to come in and help one weekend because we moved 250 people to a new floor in the building. I got the crap the next week. Eventually I resigned because I was so stressed out. HR called me up to appologize to me because I was right the whole time he was doing this even though they didn't believe me at first. They said they terminated him, and I could have my job back with full pay and no record of my termination. I told them to go stuff it and found another job.

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

IF you are in a non-drinking environment: stash a bottle of booze in the offenders office and sprinkle a little of it around in the person's office. Then turn them in, most workplaces have a no tolerance policy on alcohol and require firing. No more bully There are many other evil tips but why give out all my tricks.

kitekrazy
kitekrazy

Most situations I've read that come close to bullying would be bosses. Unfortunately in a bad economy you have to endure such things. I do think that younger people are being raised in less stressed environments. Growing up in the public and parochial schools in the 60's and 70's was far more stressful than what kids deal with today. Stress just didn't come from other kids but teachers as well. It wasn't Sesame Street. The philosophy now is to avoid stress instead of coping with it. The former is often difficult.

pgkuhel
pgkuhel

Your first real life example happened to me. I was a higher level supervisor inserted in a new department and was secretly undermined by a female subordinate who thought she should have had the job due to longevity. I naively missed it altogether. She would tell me she needed no help and then tell my boss I repeatly denied her pleas for help. She reported every time I stepped out the office (for meetings, etc) as abandonment. I had hired and worked with many women before and since but never like this so it wasn't gender.

sboverie
sboverie

Reading the article and the comments seems to show that a lot of bullying stems from a distortion of the pecking order. One case metioned, one person got a promotion that someone else thought should have been theirs; the resentment was taken out on the victim for the loss of esteem or perceived status. Other cases where the victim stands up to the bully sometimes gains respect and accomodation by the bully; although this may not work if the bullying has gone for a long time. Some aggressive types seem to need a victim to dominate and use as a punching bag and these are the ones to watch out for.

zjsagurs
zjsagurs

Television shows such as "you're fired" doesn't help the matters. I worked for a company that flew their staff who won an internal department competition to meet Donald Trump in person, to see how it is done in real life. Scary.... that's the mentality of folks nowadays.

gordon
gordon

In one of my past incarnations I was a spectator to a bullying situation that I did not recognize at the time. The employees of a remote branch somehow as a group decided to not like an employee in the branch where I worked. They undermined his work to our mutual supervisor (located in the remote branch) at every possible opportunity. One day, out of the blue, the supervisor shows up and fires the employee in my branch. All of his "evidence" was either wrong or imaginary, but by then it was too late. This caused a huge problem with a customer at which the now fired employee was doing a stellar job and had just saved the customer money, time and provided a huge PR boost. I should have beat the little shit into the ground and brought the remote staff in-front of HR. It would have been difficult and probably career ending but man would it have felt goooooood!

Barmace
Barmace

In the IT world you are judged by how well you do today. Forget the past accomplishments. It is very stressful to know that you have to perform at your best everyday. We have a few people in our department that are senior to most. They are the most knowledgeable and most depended upon. That much power is hard to control when they can say or do anything, because they are so vital to the company. There have been times where managers will avoid confrontations with them because they don't want to make them angry. It is very hard to feel like you are valuable when you deal with people who are constantly talking down to you or yelling at you. When you talk to the manager, and he respond that is just them, you feel helpless.

Gonzalo34
Gonzalo34

IMO, bullying victims tend to show a "sparring" personality pattern, often submissive, weak, shy, etc.

dbmec0
dbmec0

Only the slightest mention in the article of protection from a bully is that the bully recognize his/her own bad behavior. Unfortunately bully can only be controlled by their superiors, the policies of their company. Document ever incident and make your case.

danisegd1
danisegd1

I work for a privately owned SMB, as a CEO report, managing a technology departmernt. The owner manages the company by proxy, turning the life of nearly all employees into a living hell by: creating new impossible policies on a daily basis, addressing employees in a rude negative manner, always in front of other. invalidating employees' benefits sometimes contradicting contractual clauses, down to minutea such as prohibiting hot drink cups in the office. All offices are conatinaully video monitored, cellphones are GPS tracked....you name it... Being a senior IT professional, at this time and economy, I am looking for a way out, but it takes time, and in this case, time does not heal. I am no wimp. People who know me would testify that I can be a pitbull when needed. I have tried to put some red lines to what I will not tolerate, Being new to the company, I experienced a culture shock. Later on I found that it is all about learning new vocabulary, setting your boundeeries, and letting others know them. Turning the other cheek does not work with bullies. The only way is learning the talk, walking the walk and aknowleging the fact that there are others that do not share your values.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

This is a huge problem and keeps getting worse -- and the "man up and defend yourself" tactics don't work. Moreover, there is a website dedicated to this at bullyonline.org. My primary experience with this is the dysfunctional environment in county government IT (it also is rampant in the corporation): Two managers controlling the millions of dollars and 85% of the people are married to each other and both are narcissistic tyrants in their own right. As it turns out, the wife now controls everything that is implemented because she is in production change control and her husband is in charge of all application development. This terrible twosome have wrecked people and ended careers and there have been any number if lawsuits. The one about age discrimination (as the Development Manager said: "We need younger people") was dismissed in Federal Court because the victim could not produce a Prima Facia case, but the Feds added that it had been proved it is a hostile environment. This was all established 10 years ago by the IT Director (now retired from this mess), confirmed by the HR Director and blessed by the county lawyers. Unfortunately, it is against the law concerning conflict of interest, as my lawyer related to me. They've made a mess of IT and even lied to the Sheriff's Department by putting down hours they say IT has worked for them, but actually the hours were internal to IT for their other projects (like the $700,000 on their own in house developed time tracking system which changed every week and crashed nearly as often). They now have a $7 million Federal Grant to redevelop the Legal System (in "open source"), but can't decide just how to do it (the Manager is going to rewrite the code himself). This past year, the IT Director hired 12 managers, but is laying off "the old guard" that knows anything about the working production systems. Women in development have the hardest time: Three of them were layed off at the end of 2010 and the lawsuits about the discrimination are still pending. It is difficult for a "normal" person to understand what it is like to be bullied and be treated with contempt, not by peers, but by management itself in a sort of slavery where you cannot actually do your job and snarky narcissists tell you in meetings "you are too old to understand the technology". What can you do about it? One competent retired military guy was hired, worked six days, looked around, declared "You people are nuts" and quit. Fortunately, I was RIFFed and am happy on comfortable retirement learning the vaguries of technology and advancing my knowledge of C#, HTML5, CSS3 and JQuery, while doing copious research on topics such as this with tons of documentation. The best resource I can suggest, besides the bully online website is "Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work" by Dr. Paul Babiak and Dr. Robert Hare and "Moral Mazes" by Robert Jackall. Because after all that is said and done, when you have a dysfunctional environment with bullies (especially in management), you are dealing with sociopaths and psychopaths. Find a solution to them and you have solved the problem. Good luck with that. And may you be able to find a new career in a sane environment.

cfc2000
cfc2000

My friend has worked for thirty years in the field of mental health, both as an EAP consultant for an American electronic company, for the NHS, for the private health care sector, for local government, and currently for a prestigious UK university as a mental health co-ordinator. In all of those jobs apart from in local government she has experienced some form of bullying. What amazes me is that the practitioners of this bullying behaviour are themselves qualified in one or other of the caring professions. In her present job she works with qualified counsellors, who are easily the worst. Some of it comes through jealousy of a more experienced and better qualfied colleague, but I find it quite inexcusable that somebody who is supposed to be more empathetic to others should exhibit this sort of behaviour. This has even included making disparaging remarks in meetings and in front of other professionals. My friend is doing as this article suggests, and keeping a dossier, but what a shame that these bullies feel they can get away with it.

jsargent
jsargent

When I was a child I found the best way to avoid bullying was to use humour and never show that you are afraid. When I started work the best way was to get on with your work and do not let it affect your work performance.

watchingyou
watchingyou

Regardless of where you work, what industry you work in, your position, etc...unfortunately, nobody's immune...it can happen to anyone at any time. I started a job a couple of years back...everything went well at first, until my boss started offering "constructive criticism", which was fine at first...until it escalated into full-on bullying, and picking on everything I do, and telling me about how much of a miserable waste of space I am. It got to the point where I couldn't relax, couldn't sleep properly, and dreaded waking up every morning. After 6 months I quit. Honestly, don't think, "It'll never happen to me", because it can. And if it does happen, document and record EVERYTHING. Every insult, every put-down, every threat, EVERYTHING. If (as in my case) you are instructed by your bully to do something that is unprofessional, unethical or illegal, document that too. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with fighting back. In fact its the right thing to do. You should not take bullying lying down. Fight it as much as you are capable of doing so. You may be able to stop them, or at least have them not give you as much trouble. When they put you down, or tell you about how everything you do is wrong...make sure you have at least a couple of answers that you can use to fight back. Taking it lying down only confirms with the bully that you're weak, and that they can get away with whatever they want. Finally, look after yourself. Eat well, and get plenty of sleep. When you're not at work, try not to think about work. Use positive self-talk. Relax. Treat yourself to something nice. And get support from your family and friends. And do whatever you can do to get yourself away from the situation, even if it means quitting. Your health and wellbeing is more important than your career.

Nunimundo
Nunimundo

This kind of behaviors are as effective as the strength and ethics of the managerial people allows it to be. When someone is ill him or her needs the medicine to get over, bullying is a society illness, working environment illness, a way of mental and physical abuse in which everyone of us has the opportunity to help trying to erase such a dark point in someones life by means of facing and fighting it thoroughly.

sslevine
sslevine

My close friend has a job for almost 10 yrs. as an Administrative Ass't. for a multi-manager department in a large hospital in the midst of reorganization. Her prior boss was a rational man with a holistic view of how to manage a department. My friend was lauded and publicly recognized for her efficiency and quality of work. He retired, and the woman who replaced him immediately began bullying the people she managed, in order to push thier "Department of Organizational Excellence" (quite a contradiction in terms) to higher levels of productivity. She exhibited ALL the bully symptoms listed, and MORE. This went on for about 5 yrs. The result was the loss of very qualified people who could not bear the stress. My friend developed ALL of the listed symptoms of the bullied AND serious medical issues - ulcers, and related internal disorders. She could not afford to leave this job in this economy, especially since she is close to retirement. The quality of care and attention given to the patients this department kept track of also suffered greatly, as most of this director's attention was focused on how good she and her department LOOKED, rather than the actual service they were supposed to provide. So.... if you think for a moment that bullying in the workplace is not the cause of serious medical disorders, than you have never experienced it. My friend is not a wimp, or a victim - she raised 3 boys, struck out on her own, acquired training and worked very hard to become proficient in her medical field, and only after she started vomiting every morning before going to work did she seek help from Human Resources. Fortunately, the "bully" has been repositioned, and everyone in the department is recovering from the "lockdown" mentality they were subjected to.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

The HR Department is usually the one who supports the bullies in management. The only thing HR will do is protect the business / agency from consequences of bullying. Perhaps the only real way to stop the bullying is to prove that the bullying is destroying the business / agency and make it stick. If you can postively demonstrate that this is harming the bottom line, then you may have a chance to turn it around. However, if the company / agency has made up its mind that they will tolerate the bullying -- as they did at Weyerhaeuser by just waiting for the Director to fail -- nothing but nothing will stop the bullying until the bully(ies) are eliminated. We've tried bringing suit against managers who bully (and discriminate) but the usual result is a lot of money paid out with no benefit. It's not helpful for Federal Court to tell someone who has shown age discrimination that they have not presented a prima facia case only to add that they did prove that the workplace was hostile. Anyway, the bully development manager in IT married to the other manager in IT who controls all application deployment has gone back to writing code. Maybe he'll be too busy writing code for the Legal System to worry about bullying people any more (and with the added bonus that he still gets his manager's salary). And don't worry -- if you live in the United States, it's Federal Grant money, so it's your tax dollars at work supporting this whole sick scenario. It's a good thing that the Director has hired 12 new managers for this 50 person department in the past year! Anyway, HR is not the solution.

jsargent
jsargent

You spent 20 years in the US military and you never saw bullying? I smell sheep...or maybe its cattle ... no..it's.....(insert the phrase here).

cjreynolds
cjreynolds

I've worked for a couple of companies where the corporate culture actually encouraged bullying and bad behavior from managers. It was like you had to be a jerk to be in management. Good managers would hire on, and they wouldn't last. They'd get laid off or moved into non-supervisory positions. The company *preferred* the heavy-handed management that practiced intimidation and brow-beating.

rainmaker_68
rainmaker_68

Bullying is a dangerous thing, sometimes most of the cases that arises in the work place starts from this grass root behavior. One of the saddest things however is that most managers are aware of this behavior and does nothing to stop it, sometimes they even view the victims as weak, not being able to take a mouthing. But what these managers or executives and HR's failed to realize is that they are braking the law. I'm a victim of work place bullying and sexual harassment by a manager and their cronies. I filed a suit against ACS a Xerox company Jamaica where the incident took place however its now going two years and I'm yet to be redressed, the matter was field in the United States. And from my observation Xerox is a bad place to do business with.

jcitron
jcitron

Where I work there is one in place and all full-time employees have to attend HR-enforced employee training classes. These are done online and are monitored for completion. If they employee does not complete these classes within 30-days, they are terminated. Period. The employee than has to take the classes again after two years and the same policy is in place. The employee has 30-days after their 2nd anniversary comes up to complete the courses. If the tests are not completed, their manager is notified and the employee is put on notice. After that the employee is terminated. I too grew up in the 60's and 70's. Things were a lot different then than now. Sadly though, I was a victim of bullying back then not by my peers, but instead by older students! The thing was I wasn't very good at sports and never fit in. It wasn't my fault that I was born with a clubbed foot, had serious bone and muscular surgery, wore special shoes, bars, and occasionally casts, throughout my childhood. This put me behind in my eye-hand coordination that caused poor ball catching issues and running. Thus, I was picked on and very seriously by the jocks.

jcitron
jcitron

I worked in a computer room at a life insurance company. There was one employee on the helpdesk that managed to get every newhire terminated within a few months at the least. Se would nit-pick them untl they felt useless and then the manager would come in and fire them. Eventually this bi**h was let go for something unrelated, and surprisingly the newhires after that survived.

jcitron
jcitron

The senior people need a good talking to. These people need to remember that no matter how smart you think "you are" there is always someone else that is smarter than you. Having said that, there's a thing called respect. There's no reason to treat anyone that way no matter who they are. I am a senior person where I work. People come to me for my ability to resolve technical issues efficiently and I do so without an attitude. In the process of fixing a problem, I show my coworkers how to do the same so they don't have to bother me again with the same problem.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

When managers and directors are complicit with the bullying, there are really no options. In Weyerhaeuser, when the Corporation was moving to get rid of the Director of IT for the business, who was a complete nut, I was told to leave him alone by the Director of OSES because the company was waiting for him to fail on a massive project. We all had to bear the insanity. Eventually, two years later, he was tossed out because he was found in violation of abuse towards employees right in front of HR. The company lost money in the settlement to the tune of six figures. He went out and got a similar job in a competing company -- we call it the "scoundrel recycling program". It didn't stop there. A couple more years and Weyerhaeuser sold off the entire Business, an $8 Billion chunk to a competitor. The whole Business was just GONE! The company that bought the business acquired the largest mill of its kind in the world (I had run the project to upgrade their IT Systems for the year 2000): They shut down one of the three production lines and half the employees lost their jobs. Now it may not have been that one director in IT was entirely responsible for the failure of a business within the company, but he certainly had a significant part, since he was responsible for the failure of a $112 Million transformation project and it went south on the Corporation without one shred of benefit to it. It was a major fail. The Director was a bully. None of us could do a thing about it, though some of us really did try. Now you may think this is an isolated incident. Think again. It happens over and over and now with greater and greater frequency. Just think about Kenneth Lay and Enron. Business, government, academa even religious corporations are falling prey to sociopaths and psychopaths, and once these predators gain ascendancy, it really doesn't matter if you were a Marine Sergeant or a milktoast low level line worker. Blaming the victim doesn't help. What may help is an insistence on professionality with an adherance to standards for the benefit of business, but even that has its limits these days. Either you find a way to find the power, live with it, or leave.

Araminta
Araminta

So... in YOUR opinion.. it's the victims fault because they are 'shy'.. not the person who's being humiliating, hypercritical or aggressive? Some glad I don't work for you.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

as I saw the situation as anything but funny. Whatever works.

coolaid09
coolaid09

So, what happens when you take a job that you've openly admitted you needed to be trained on, the person who needs to train you approves that decision, and then they only train you when the supervisor is around? Otherwise, they behave passive aggressively, and are downright rude. And your supervisor refuses to stand up for you because he/she isn't a "micro-manager". So you never learn everything you're supposed to learn. And then the person who was supposed to train you influences your friends so that they shun you. Yeah, lots of humor to use there. :P

mytechgal
mytechgal

Thanks for a real life story with real life consequences. As I mentioned in another post, I experience similar emotional issues as a direct result of workplace bullying. We hate to believe that in what is supposed to be an environment of caring such as a hospital would have such employees, but we all know they do. My experience occurred in a religious college-level educational institution. The archbishop continues to stand behind the law in his non-reaction to reports of bullying/harassment in the school - no state law, no violation. In a religious institution, it seems moral law would override public law, or lack thereof.

cjreynolds
cjreynolds

In my almost 40 years of career jobs, I've seen a lot in the workplace. ExploreMN, I respect your expertise and wouldn't want to insult you, but your post leads me to believe that you haven't had "hands-on" experience in this matter. It's well known that the stress of financial problems can cause every malady from relational problems to a bevy of stress-related physical problems. It's happened to me, and I've seen it happen to others. Do you not think that an unstable workplace condition could cause all of that and more? When you're worried about your job, finances are at the top of your "worry list". Add to that the fact that, at least for males, our image of ourselves in the workplace is closely tied to our overall self esteem - it's hard to feel like an "alpha male" in your private life when you feel like you're "blowing it" at work. Add all this up, and you've got a recipe for all sorts of mental and physical problems. Fortunately, the only time I can remember any serious bullying by a manager, I was young and it didn't have the physical effect that it might have. I'm now at the ripe age of almost 60, and I could imagine such stress causing me trouble nowadays. Of course, my attitude toward work has changed considerably since then - I don't stay where I'm not valued. At this age I realize that no paycheck is worth dealing with abuse.

cjreynolds
cjreynolds

During my forementioned war of wills (with the guy who was screaming and cussing at me, trying to provoke a fight), one of my first attempts at a solution was to go to HR. PLEADED with her not to discuss our conversation with the manager, and making it clear that I feared retribution. She went straight to the manager in question, and then met with me again to tell me that obviously, the manager and I had different "management preferences", and I should probably look for another job, as our "management preferences" were not compatible. I guess screaming and doing everything short of physically striking me is considered a matter of "management preferences". That's when I went to UPPER upper management and got something done. Fortunately, the company's culture was not so forgiving when it came to employee abuse, and the situation was resolved post-haste (it *was* Apple Computer, after all LOL).

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

I never saw bullying. If you are referring to what goes on in basic training, that is not bullying and you have a distorted view of what bullying is. I smell the same crap coming from you.

kitekrazy
kitekrazy

You would think the management would be intelligent enough to see a pattern. Employee turnover is also an expense.

littlepitcher
littlepitcher

They're not criminal behavior, they're legal and ethical personality types-often more legal and ethical than those who excoriate or bully them. Aggression is not the god-given right of the Tall Male. Stop blaming the targets and analyze your reasons for defending bad behavior. Then go read "The No Asshole Rule" so you learn to understand how bad behavior compromises profitability.

jsargent
jsargent

In my childhood once I had a knife held to my throat. I didn't think that it was particularly funny either. But it's like you say "whatever works". Sometimes you take a risk when you feel you've got nothing to lose and it pays off.

gates_clone
gates_clone

In that case I would use the time I'm not being trained to either train myself or look for another work. If they want me to improve but don't allow it, then they don't need me. You can try to wait the others to change, but it will be a very long, frustrating and unhealty wait.

cjreynolds
cjreynolds

When I say "serious bullying".... My manager would catch me walking to my bench (I was an "electronic technician" then), would start screaming, cussing, name-calling and flailing his arms in front of my face in front of the entire department, obviously trying to provoke a physical fight from me. BTW: I won that contest - went over his head and got his wings clipped :) Fortunately, you don't see that kind of behavior often nowadays - I guess the bullies figured out that the joy of bullying is not worth the hospital visit that sometimes follows...

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Is HR on the ball or are they the stereotypical cronies?

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

The insanity in the workplace continues to escalate. Perhaps the question is not, "What can we do about bullies," it should be what can we do to return professionality to the workplace?

cjreynolds
cjreynolds

I worked at the local power company at their help desk. A stellar group of professionals when I arrived - really topnotch folks, some of them had run their own consulting businesses before - really sharp minds. Then "Debra" came to work there (I'm calling her "Debra" because I don't remember her name, nor do I care to). Debra teamed up with another lady who had great seniority and was heading places in the company, and they formed a little "ladies' club" which worked to eliminate all the males in the department (who happened to be the ones who did all the work). Debra's mother worked at another company's help desk, and I believe Debra was being coached by her in the ways of treachery. Since Debra was taking all of the raw call data and working it into spreadsheets to show to the manager, it was easy to just flip the numbers, and all of a sudden it looks like the ladies are the only ones working (when it was exactly the other way around). One by one we were all laid off. Three months later the company called me back - they were contacting all of the folks they had let go. It seems that Debra and her accomplis failed SPECTACULARLY during a network outage to handle the situation (with only 2 inexperienced analysts at the wheel? go figure), and the company was trying to re-build the original team, while stripping Debra and her cohort of their ill-deserved power :)

jcitron
jcitron

The whole company was messed up. We had arcane rules for the computer room that didn't make sense. These verged on discrimination because we were computer operators. Anyway the problem too was the VP of IT was intimidated by this lady. She must've had the goods on a lot of people because they would run and hide when she showed up. Finally somone above pulled the lever and she was let go. :) Sadly, this happened after way too many good people were dropped first.

coolaid09
coolaid09

Sure; you can train yourself to a certain point. But if you're dealing with someone else's code, or some proprietary system that you don't have a ton of documentation for, it's incredibly slow. The economy is almost as slow to improve. Instead of waiting for others to change, perhaps it works better to remember that: 1. you never really know who your friends are at work. And: 2. If you allow someone at work to influence your perception of someone without having all the facts, you are potentially being manipulated. And: 3. When others refuse to change, find their flaws, find how they inhibit yours and others productivity, and point it out to your supervisor in a tasteful way. Every illusion has a flaw.