Preventing workplace bullying is key to detoxifying your organization and creating a safe place to work. When employees feel safe and accepted, they provide results and hit their goals. So how can we prevent workplace bullying?
It all comes down to leadership. Below are some strategies to help prevent a toxic environment to avoid any workplace harassment.
Identify potential issues that may stir up the conflict: Find your employees’ triggers and learn about what is causing conflict in your organization. I guarantee, it is mostly about communication, but find your root causes. Once you have identified the root causes of conflict and employees triggers, hold a meeting and work on strategies to develop constructive responses when faced with conflict. When I run conflict management training, we develop transition statements, we work on reflection and active listening, we identify emotions, thoughts, and work behaviors, and we change our language. We start using “I versus You” statements. This helps change the tone from blaming to holding ourselves accountable.
Praise employee’s strengths and give positive feedback: Find opportunities to praise your team and identify their strengths. By learning your employees’ strengths you can help them find their “jam” and give them opportunities to strive. Praise them so they don’t doubt their skills. I used to consult for a construction company, and the pressure to perform was high. Foremen used to yell, threaten, and mock their carpenters. The fear created short-term results, but there was a lot of animosities, high turnover, and a lack of loyalty. Moreover, they did not trust their bosses. So I coached a few Foremen, and we were able to create a positive shift and drive more results. We did it by positive feedback, identifying strengths, and leveraging strengths. It was a powerful experience.
Avoid gossiping or spreading rumors: This will be the hardest behavior to tackle. Gossip and rumors are ingrained in our culture, it is a way we connect, and often it is a way to commemorate our miseries. The challenge is the workplace drama impacts your bottom line. It creates cliques, conflict, miscommunication, and often develops a toxic work environment that can lead to bullying. As leaders, we must model appropriate behaviors and refrain from talking about your employees to people in your organization. Find a coach, a therapist, or a leadership group to discuss your challenges, but don’t use your own team to do it. It creates distrust and animosity between your staff. People will leverage that information or share it with their colleagues. It becomes messy and hard to manage. More often we let it pass and let the drama run its course. By doing so, we are accepting these negative social behaviors in our corporate culture. We are saying yes to what might lead to bullying and harassment. So, next time you hear something negative about someone, just say something to halt the rumor or gossip. You can say:
1. “I don’t want to get into this, we are taking our focus off work”
2. “I don’t feel the same way, I would be hurt if someone said that about me”
3. “I don’t know the full story, so maybe we should not talk about this without out them present to speak for themselves.”
4. “I think that this is between you and him, I don’t want to get involved or add fuel to the fire.”
5. “As a leader and your boss, I want to help you grow. Tell me why you are sharing this negative information. Why don’t we get to the bottom of this and find a resolution that benefits everyone.”
These are just some ideas to help you navigate the negative social behaviors to prevent bullying in the workplace. By working to build a trusting, collaborative, and positive workplace, you take a stand against harassment and bullying. Feel free to reach out for more information, strategies, research, or recommendations. We specialize in workplace bullying and team building. We want to best support you on your journey to an engaged, productive, motivated, and happy team.
Until Next Time,
Kortney Peagram, Ph.D
Founder and Owner
Peagram Consulting & Bulldog Solution