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CareersA recent survey conducted by the USA-based Workplace Bullying Institute reported that almost 65 million employees have either been victims or witnesses of ‘workplace bullying’. Defined as “a relentless attack on other people’s confidence and self esteem” by Tim Field, author of Bully In Sight (1996), workplace bullying leads to employee turnover and low productivity.

If you are a line manager, here is how you can reduce and eliminate workplace bullying:

1. Develop a support system. Have a thorough understanding of your organisation’s disciplinary policies and make sure that your subordinates are aware of them. This will foster an environment of trust and open communication and make employees more likely to voice their grievances. Organising awareness workshops also help reduce instances of bullying.

1. Keep a lookout for disruptive behaviour. Subordinates are usually reluctant to lodge complaints about bullying; therefore the responsibility lies with you to spot disruptive behaviour within your team and/or department. Such instances can range from blaming a colleague for an honest mistake and setting unrealistic deadlines, to more extreme cases such as verbal badgering and sexual harassment.

2. Identify the cause. Take the time to investigate what factors are triggering the bullying; they usually include race, religion or gender. Then determine whether an individual is being bullied or if everyone is suffering at the hands of one perpetrator. If the former is true, speak with your team or conduct one-on-one interviews to resolve the issue. In the case of the latter, address the problem by speaking privately to the individual responsible for bullying and issue an oral warning; if the behaviour persists, then register an official complaint.

3. Maintain records. Once the complaint has been registered and an investigation has begun, you will be asked to provide concrete evidence to substantiate your claim. Help your subordinate put together a detailed document that lists the date the bullying began, how many people have witnessed it and what it entailed; augment the complaint with e-mails, audio or video recordings of bullying behaviour if possible.

– Zeeshan Lakhpaty

The writer is a professional corporate trainer. zeeshan@peopleexcellence.biz