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'Upwards bullying' on the rise

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HC Online | 08 Jul 2009, 12:00 AM Agree 0
Office gossip, withholding information, and intentionally missing deadlines are among tactics used to bully one in four Australian bosses, according to a new study.
  • Lyn | 09 Jul 2009, 02:30 PM Agree 0
    I think that the definition of what consitutes 'bullying' really needs to be examined, both up and down, If soneone is very anxious or sensitive, they can experience assertiver or even business like communication as 'bullying' becasue it is communicating something that they don't want to hear / be responsible for,
  • Bernie | 09 Jul 2009, 03:24 PM Agree 0
    Up, down and across and every which way that someone can think of. People are under a lot of pressure but that doesn't give them an excuse not to treat others (even their manager or supervisor) with respect and dignity. It applies both ways and as Lyn indicates, the definition of what is and what isn't bullying (particularly when tied to reasonable management) needs to be put into a context that might vary from workplace to workplace. It doesn't matter what it is called, there is simply no room for behaviour or communication towards others that is offensive, humilating, threatening, intimidating or involves any abuse of power. We might not like others in the workplace, but the least we can do is treat them with respect and dignity, and maintain standards that reflect those principles. Even the best intentioned managers can be accused of being a bully simply by asking "What do you have on next week?"
  • Pete | 10 Jul 2009, 10:07 AM Agree 0
    How soft are our managers getting? If everyone just came to work and did their job, we wouldn't need managers at all. Managing "upwards bullying" is just another part of the job. If you don't like it, go back to being a team member and stop pretending to be a manager!
  • Pete | 10 Jul 2009, 10:08 AM Agree 0
    How soft are our managers getting? If everyone just came to work and did their job, we wouldn't need managers at all. Managing "upwards bullying" is just another part of the job. If you don't like it, go back to being a team member and stop pretending to be a manager!
  • David | 17 Apr 2010, 01:45 PM Agree 0
    'Get over it', 'grow up', 'fight back' and like responses (Hi Pete) deny the complexity of bullying behaviours, especially in the workplace and more importantly, in upwards bullying. This simplistic response may actually reveal a bullying attitude of the one who mouths it; the one who may often jibe that you should be able to take a joke!

    Upwards bullying may well be most harmful to those in the middle levels of an organisation or company structure, because the bully undermines the respect and potential of the target, as is always the case with any bullying. This is the aim of the bully's activities (often long-practised in many contexts).

    It is sometimes the case that the bully will not accept working to a supervisor, but can easily sniff out senior management with ease and set about undermining the efforts of their boss at every opportunity.

    When other dysfunctional group behaviours co-exist with the bullying, the complexity grows exponentially. The development of cliques that accept the bully as a valued member is a case in point where the complexity of the behaviours can be horrendous.

    So many wise people have said before: 'Smart people leave', and 'people don't leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers'. The bad manager in this case is the one(s) who abandons the bullied manager in favour of the bully and the clique.

    There is much to learn about inter-personal behaviour and working in groups. Having the view that we should be just getting on and doing a good job may well open the door to the upwards bully who seems very well versed in psychology, unlike the bullied boss! The bosses tools must include inter-personal strength and assertiveness, but the bullying should not arise in the first place because the culture would not condone it.

    Therefore, management training (do we have any?) needs to build the psychological knowledge that gives staff the ability to read the flavour of their workforce and cultivate positive behaviours.

    Combatting bullying seems much like setting up workable whistleblowing procedures. The whistleblower is trying to remove the bad guy from the organisation, but becomes targetted instead. Similarly, the bully is often more protected than the target.

    Thankfully, recognition of the existence and behaviours of the 'jerk at work' has begun to gain wider acceptance and good firms weed out jerks because they are so destructive, especially economically.

    The greatest crime in bullying is the loss of the potential of the target to the firm and the community. So overwhelming is the effect of bullying, that some targets have been unable to continue working at all!

    Bullies waste ives and revel in it.

    So Pete, i guess bullies can weed out the weak in the workforce, eh, so the rest of you can get on with things?

    We all need to be accepted and respected beyond the day when the letter of offer arrived. Too often that's the last time any sense of civility existed in the firm we joined.

    We need to be nurtured throughout our working life, no matter what level we attain in the organisation.
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