Although we may not want to face it, our organizational cultures may be encouraging or rewarding abrasive and bullying behaviors in the name of achieving goals.
This makes it too easy to fall into the bullying trap.
If your strategy is to do whatever you need to do to meet your organization’s goals without investing time and resources to support your employees, your success will be short-lived.
Recently, I asked my friend David Hain to join me on my podcast #HealthyLeadership to discuss the bullying trap that so many executives fall into. David is an organizational development expert and was recently appointed to the board of an organization called Bullies Out.
During the interview, we covered the topic of the way in which too many managers treat their staff when critical deadlines require employees to stay late or work through the weekend. We talked about a company I worked for a few years back that enforced the “I don’t care” attitude.
I was told time and time again:
“This is what we are paying you for and you need to do whatever you have to do to get the job done.”
Not only is this approach counterproductive because it alienates employees, it can easily lead to abrasive and bullying behaviors from management and the staff.
The Bullying Trap
Once we understand this bullying trap, it starts to make sense that over 50 million employees have reported that they have been bullied or otherwise abused.
Over 50 Million have been bullied at work!!!
This frightening statistic was shared with me by Dr. Annette Rotter, an expert on the topic of bullying, during an interview last year.
Dr. Rotter explained that:
“A major part of the problem is many managers AND employees are not equipped or prepared to lead through the growing pressure and tension of the workplace and, as a result, lash out at their employees.”
I sincerely doubt that thousands of managers get out of bed in the morning thinking that they can’t wait to go bully and intimidate their employees and co-workers. However, the sad truth is that too many of us fall into the bullying trap.
As David Hain explained, healthy organizations support those who may be being bullied and those who fall into the trap of bullying. Easy to say, very hard to do…
It Takes One To Know One…
A few years back I asked my staff for feedback on my leadership and what I learned from them changed my whole perspective on leadership. While I thought that I was a good leader, the truth was that I was intimidating my employees and some of them were scared of me.
While it was never my intent to bully them, there were times when they felt bullied.
Since that point I started developing and incorporating organizational development principles into my organizations through formal and informal channels. I started telling my staff that my goal was that they never fear me again.
It didn’t take long before other teams started finding out about the work we were doing and asked us to share our materials and practices. I remember some of my colleagues asking me why I was doing all this work.
One rather abrasive executive actually told me:
“I don’t have time for this stuff. This is a waste of time and money!”
Like so many abrasive executives, he chose to criticize and ridicule the need to improve his organizational culture instead of the facing the fact that his staff was confused, fearful, and suffering from an extreme lack of trust in management.
I am fairly sure he had fallen into the bullying trap a number of times.
Resistance To Change
As I spoke to David during our podcast, I remembered this conversation and felt it was a perfect example of why it is so difficult to implement organizational change. Many of us don’t want to change, particularly when we may not be proud of the person we have become.
Are you a good leader? How do you know?
Self-reflection can be painful, but as they say, no pain, no gain!
Thanks for sharing everyone!
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