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Reform bullies or show them the door?

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HC Online | 01 Nov 2012, 12:00 AM Agree 0
HR is sometimes the meat in the sandwich: there’s a need to protect employees from bullying, but also a requirement to provide fairness to the alleged bully.
  • Kerry | 01 Nov 2012, 03:03 PM Agree 0
    The question needs to be answered on a case by case basis, we(HR)in the employee advocate space have a duty of care to provide a safe environment however as per normal performance management procedures if the offending employee recognises the unacceptable behaviour and is willing to take corrective action support should be given to do so. The case above the offender still cannot acknowledge that the behaviour is unacceptable this to me indicates that there is no value and too much risk in a instigating corrective action plan.
  • Bernie Althofer | 01 Nov 2012, 04:56 PM Agree 0
    Case by case but here are a few ideas for consideration
     Bullying is a behaviour common to all human beings and exhibited by everybody on occasion
     Workplace bullying is a severe and destructive form which involves abuse of power
     Lack of empathy and failure to understand or recognise the consequence of their behaviour on others are also part of it
     Bullies may have a desire to lead and are drawn to positions of power, management, control, trust, authority
     When demands of position exceed the maturity of behaviour skills, bullying ensues
     Employers need to tackle managers who have a history of bullying
     Once the problem is acknowledged, a number of new cases may come to light
     Victims will have high expectations of appropriate action
     One way forward might be for existing bullying cases to be investigated and graded
    1. Where a person has exhibited psychopathic or criminal behaviour, they shall be subject to legal proceedings
    2. In very serious cases, action shall be taken according to the employer’s disciplinary procedures
    3. In serious cases, where the cost of retraining would be too high for the benefits gained, the individual shall be ‘retired’
    4. Where the degree of bullying is classed as moderate, the person shall be subject to a program of training, counselling, supervision (tied to performance management); a move with suspension of responsibility may also be appropriate
    5. Cases of mild bullying will be written off subject to compliance with the anti-bullying policy and appropriate training
     Serious cases may require mental health intervention
     Where bully’s behaviours border on psychopathic, but there is insufficient evidence to warrant action, compulsory and early retirement may be appropriate
     Cost and length of period of treatment may preclude the benefit of converting the individual into a responsible person
     If the person remains in position, especially with managerial responsibility, then the employer has both a duty and a legal obligation
     Bullying manager may have been rewarded with one or more promotions
     Honour and recognition by superiors are the strongest reinforcement of the habit
     Need to change the ethos of the organisation from the top down
     Bullies might benefit from
     Mentoring
     The mentor becomes counsellor, adviser, confidant, teacher and could be seen as fulfilling a parental role, especially in
     Being able to recognise effects of behaviour on others
     Development of sensitivity
     Development of empathy and caring
     The building of confidence and esteem
     Learning to differentiate between acceptability and unacceptability
     Supervision
     To ensure that patterns of behaviour are changing and improving, that bullying is not continuing overtly, and that the bully is genuinely committed to change and development
     Recognition of different behaviour styles
     People vary in style, expectation and the way that they react; the workplace is about teamwork, and everybody has something to contribute
     Removal of pressures
     Including temporary suspension of responsibility for staff
     Principal requirement
     Must be endorsed, implemented and followed wholeheartedly, genuinely and enthusiastically from the top down – no exceptions
     Primary tenets
     Bullying is unacceptable
     Anyone guilty will be subjected to predetermined procedures including disciplinary action (from verbal warning to dismissal)
     Accessibility
     Free and unrestrained access to an independent counsellor or investigator who is trained to recognise bullying
     Ability to seek independent advice, information and if necessary, counselling, without fear of further victimisation simply for having sought advice
     If the complaint is found to have validity, the person whose alleged behaviour triggered the complaint can be moved or suspended pending a full investigation
     Investigations
     Clear set of procedures for investigating any complaint fairly and impartially
    Bullying shall be treated in the same manner as any other criminal or disciplinary offence
     Policy will take time to implement and become effective
     Long term viewed is required
     Needs to be reactive and proactive
     With the majority of bullying cases involving the line manager, the performance appraisal system may need revision
     Who is going to criticise or implicate the very person on whom your career progression depends?
     Some bullying allegations stem from poor performance management procedures
     Independent staff surveys
     Cooperation with unions
    Exit interviews
     Anti-bullying policy is not just about catching bullies
     It’s about fostering a climate of dignity and respect by and for all employees at and between all levels
     Consider Court, Commission and Tribunal decisions that reference Codes of Conduct
     Making respect a way of life for every employee when in their interactions with colleagues, bosses, subordinates, customers, clients, pupils, students, patients, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, the public etc
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