Bullying behavior creates a hostile work environment. Eventually, word will spread about you being the bully boss.


With technology, the spread of bullying in schools continues to make front-page news. Schools, corporations, and parents are addressing this issue of bullying as evidenced by Post-Tribune columnist Jerry Davich in a column earlier this year.

So what does bullying have to do with business?

Probably more than some in business want to admit.

Before specifically addressing the issue of bullying in the workplace, maybe it makes sense to examine a couple of other surveys regarding the general culture of organizations.

One more recent survey of around 10,000 U.S. workers and 1,000 workers in 21 other countries from Kenexa High Performance Institute revealed that 52 percent of the workforce does not trust the top people at their organizations.

What is even more alarming is 28 percent of those respondents actively distrust the executive leadership, while another 24 percent neither trust nor distrust.

The Lack of Trust

So in a workforce, one out of four employees is distrustful and one out of four could care less. This lack of trust appears to mirror some of the statistics where only one out of four employees is actively engaged on the job (Source: Gallup Poll).

The most alarming statistic from this survey (Kenexa) is 50 percent of those who do not trust the executive leadership are ready to jump ship.

Imagine walking into your office tomorrow and you have lost almost 20 percent of your workforce. What would happen to your business?

So what is the reason for all this distrust? Maybe the answer is a bullying organizational culture led by bully bosses?

If we accept the premise that bullies have been part of most cultures, then bullies in the workplace exist as they do in schools.

In 2007, the Workplace Bullying Institute and Zogby International conducted the first nationwide study on this topic. What this data revealed is that 72 percent of the workplace bullies are bosses.

Modeling Behavior

Right now, if the data from the 2007 survey is still accurate, in any business, more than two-thirds of those in leadership or management roles are bullies. This statistic is quite frightening.

With all the focus on children, maybe it is time to focus on the adults who are probably modeling bullying type behavior at home, as well as on the job.

Beyond increasing the stress levels for employees, bullying behavior in the workplace multiplies other costs such as health care, hiring, legal, productivity, and training through executive coaching or external consultants.

Overcoming bullying behavior is difficult, especially when the boss is the bully.

Bullying behavior creates a hostile work environment. Eventually, word will spread about you being the bully boss.

This word of mouth advertising will seep through your local business community and eventually no one will want to work in your toxic environment or be associated with your organization.

If you are a boss and are having some business challenges, then maybe it may make sense to consider an organizational assessment to determine the underlying problems within your organization.

Usually, the best assessment is self-reflection and begins the next time you hear yourself screaming at an employee. That behavior is a strong indicator you are indeed a bully.

Just remember, do you like someone yelling at you, acting like a stark raving mad lunatic? So why would your employees, your vendors, and even your clients be any different?

About the author

Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Leanne Hoagland-Smith has over 25 years in sales. Her true joy is selling and…

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