Bullying isn’t something that’s only relegated to the playground. Unfortunately, even as people grow up, some of them simply grow into bigger bullies. Workplace bullying is real and it’s a problem that many people have to deal with. If you’re contending with a workplace bully, you don’t have to just take it. There are actionable steps you can take that will protect you and your job.
What is Workplace Bullying?
Workplace bullying takes a different form than childhood bullying. No one is going to be hiding around a corner waiting to steal your lunch money. However, there are striking similarities between childhood bullying and workplace bullying that suggest that workplace bullies are dealing with leftover childhood issues.
For example, a workplace bully may do things like steal your lunch from the employee kitchen – everyday. They may take things from your desk or make needed supplies unavailable to you. They may try to get others in the office to turn against you based on minor differences like the way you wear your hair or your accent. These are all small yet hurtful things that can make work an unpleasant place to be.
Workplace bullying may also take on more ominous tones. A workplace bully may try to steal your clients, blame you for serious mistakes at work, take credit for your work or undermine you in front of your boss or your underlings. These kinds of tactics are not to be considered just regular work problems; make no mistake, this is bullying.
How to Handle Bullying in the Workplace
Unlike playground bullies, you can’t fight your way out of a bully situation. There are laws in place that help protect employees against workplace bullying in all its ugly forms. Here are the steps you should take if you are being bullied at work.
Inform Your Supervisor
Schedule a private meeting with your immediate supervisor and let him or her know what’s going on. It may help to write notes for yourself so you can present your case in an organized fashion. Be very objective and non-emotional as you talk about what’s happening to you. If you can come up with examples of other employees being bullied by the same person, that might be helpful, too. Give your supervisor a written summary of your grievance. Tell them that you will also be meeting with the HR department with a copy of your complaint. Ask the supervisor to intervene on your behalf. Most good supervisors won’t even need to be asked; they’ll go ahead and offer to take matters into hand.
Make a Formal Complaint With HR
Next, have that meeting with HR. Tell them everything you told your supervisor. Give them a copy of the same written grievance you gave your boss. Tell them that you are explicitly requesting that your complaint be placed in your file. If anything happens in the future where the bully causes you to lose your job, that piece of paper will help come to your defense.
Deal With the Bully
Finally, you must deal with the bully on a daily basis if you work with that person. Don’t allow them to goad you on or put words into your mouth in front of others. Instead, handle yourself without emotion in response to their bullying. Pretend that their bullying has no effect on you. Most bullies get enjoyment from seeing their victims react; don’t give the bully that pleasure.
Fellow employees who deserve to be your workplace friends won’t fall prey to the bully’s tactics. Befriend those who befriend you so that you have some allies at work to make things better. If nothing is done by your supervisor after a reasonable amount of time, take your grievance to the next level of supervisor, up the chain of command. At the end of the day, the bully will need to either shape up or be let go. Don’t let any bully push you out of a job you love.
Does your business need help dealing with employee and HR issues like these? Contact Employer Flexible to discuss how we can support you and your business.