Bullying Has No Place in a Healthy Workplace

You may have read that Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick announced his resignation recently. This followed months of chaos and revelations of a bullying and toxic corporate culture at Uber. Corporate culture can have a major effect on people so there is a real need for organisations and managers to focus on promoting two very important qualities – they are dignity and respect for everyone while at work.

It stands to reason that the health of any corporate culture can affect productivity. If the culture is toxic, it can be hugely detrimental to those caught up in it. When an organisation has robust procedures and zero tolerance policies against bullying in place, this will go a long way towards deterring bullies. When there are signs of stress levers such as intimidation and harassment at work, management should deal effectively with them. Having said that, it’s often difficult to identify the early signs and symptoms of bullying.

To understand this better, we need to ask ourselves –
• How does bullying behaviour manifest itself in the workplace?
• Why does one person regard a particular behaviour as bullying, while someone else sees it as tolerable, simply indicating a dominant attitude (even if such an attitude may be unwelcome)?


Bullying behaviour can be overt or covert

Bullying behaviour relies on a wide range of tactics – overt and covert. Disparaging remarks or criticism made by colleagues or managers can have harmful effects on an individual at the receiving end. This individual then feels their professional competence is being called into question – and it’s undermining their work.

Overt tactics can include public rebuke for alleged errors made by an individual in their work. Covert tactics can take the form of circulating rumours or gossip appearing to question an individual’s ability. These tactics can also be expressed as inaction.

For example, failing to acknowledge or approve work that’s been done well. Or omitting to ask for someone’s opinion, when that someone is clearly best qualified to comment.

You can recognise bullies, because typically they –
• Make unreasonable demands on their chosen target
• Shout at victims publicly, as a deliberate tactic to disempower them
• Give instructions which they then change for no apparent reason
• Allocate tasks which they know are beyond an individual’s ability
• Block promotion by refusing to give fair appraisals
• Fail to endorse pay increases or bonus awards, though fully earned
• Exclude an individual from discussions germane to their work responsibilities
You may well have observed some of these behaviours happening in work situations yourself – sadly, they’re not that uncommon.

How does bullying affect people?

People who are bullied at work often feel they’ve lost control, and they’re no longer able to carry out their duties efficiently. They try to regain the semblance of normality – but frequently this is unsuccessful. After a while, people who’ve been bullied may become tense, anxious, prone to emotional outbursts, and behave un-cooperatively. Worse still, the stress that bullying causes often leads to minor illnesses, such as headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and fatigue. When people experience stress over time, this can result in more serious health problems – for example, very unpleasant conditions such as ‘burnout’.

When they’re being subjected to bullying, people are often reluctant to discuss their experience for fear of reprisal or further intimidation. Talking about it may be seen as a ‘black mark’ against them that could damage their career progression. Most victims of bullying have two main aims – they want to keep their job and they want the situation to return to normal.

What actions can an organisation take to prevent bullying?

• Introduce policies to counteract bullying and harassment
• Train HR people to recognise the signs and symptoms of bullying
• Carry out stress and culture audits to identify ‘hot spots’
• Focus on developing soft skills
• Mediate between ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’
• Ask a question such as ‘Have you ever experienced bullying in this organisation?’ during exit interviews

What you should remember

• Bullying behaviour is always unacceptable
• Your people may need to be taught how to confront bullies
• Anti-bullying policies should complement your organisational culture

With over 25 years of providing training, mediation and consultancy in the field of workplace bullying, contact us if we can help in any way: info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk




Tackling the Boredom Factor

Unfortunately, we all have to sometimes deal with boring, routine tasks. Those are the days when the clock ticks by so slowly you can actually see the hands move.

We all know that we get stressed when there is too much to do but do we really appreciate the ‘rust out’ factor i.e. when there is insufficient work to keep our attention. It can be equally stressful. In such situations, we psyche ourselves to go to work in the morning but our energy levels stay may stay low all day. Then, when we go home at night, we can be tired and listless because we have received little stimulus during the day.

However, you are doing your job for a reason and that reason is probably an economic one, because you need to pay the rent, buy food and clothes and look after your children. The plain fact is that not everyone enjoys the work that they do, although most of us do try to find a job that stimulates and keeps our interest.

If you do have a boring job, try and be creative in the way that you manage it. Think ‘outside of the box’ in the way that you do things and you may be able to make your job different and more stimulating.

Maybe try to rotate certain aspects of your work so that you see different people in different departments on different days, all of which can bring about stimulating conversations about home, family life and interests. Continue reading


Are You a Team Player?

Working as a team, with all pitching-in together and, most of all, working in harmony are all essential components of a healthy workplace culture. There are very few businesses that can survive without using effective teams in their operation. When deadlines are tight, it is often team-work that gets the project completed on-time and, more importantly, wins the contract.

The Olympic relay races illustrated perfectly how working together as a team can achieve much more than one player going it alone. You know that if you pass your baton to a person capable of a sprint finish, then your team has a better chance of winning. That little bit extra – is the bit which makes the difference between winning and losing.

Good Team Players at Work

Most organisations have teams. The sales team, the production team, the HR team, the customer services team and, of course, the management team. These teams are created to bring strength and to channel energies and creativity into the aims and objectives of the organisation. Most roles in the workplace require us to interact with others – whereas the concept of ‘going it alone’ is really only relevant in very small
businesses where the driving force is just the owner-manager, or the sole professional practitioner.

Good team players will support other members by offering practical help when they need it.  They can offer positive feedback throughout a specific task and especially after a project is completed.  Even if the end result is not as good as it could be, the effective team player will look at the learning that has come from the experience, rather than
apportioning blame upon anyone.

Teams are essentially built upon expertise and individual strengths and in the most effective teams you will often find:

  • Leaders who challenge and motivate the team to give of their best
  • Individual skilled workers necessary for their technical expertise
  • Supervisors who push to get the job done
  • Monitors who review and assess quality
  • Co-ordinators who see that project runs to plan

When teams do not function well, it is usually because of poor communication skills within the team and a lack of clear understanding of individual roles.

Team work can often be challenging, and individuals with a strong character do not always find being a team player, easy. They will have a strong urge to do it their own way and their stubbornness and individuality can sabotage the success of the team effort.

So if you were choosing team members for a project in your organisation, who would the best team players be?

Naturally, we have to assume that they all have the basic technical skills for the work to be done, but what other factors would you need for your team?

So let us now look at some of the necessary qualities of a team player:

  • Reliable and can be counted on to work hard, meet commitments and follow through.
  • Communicates well to express their thoughts and ideas in a clear, concise manner but with respect for the rest of the team.
  • Listens attentively and can absorb information but not take it personally when their suggestion is not always accepted.
  • Good problem-solver who can think creatively and ‘outside of the box’ in a solutions-orientated manner
  • Fully engages with other team players and maybe even volunteers for other assignments.
  • Shares information, knowledge and expertise to keep other team members up to date.
  • Co-operates with others to get the job done and takes the initiative to help.
  • Flexible and adaptive to ever-changing situations and not stressed-out because a new direction may be taken.
  • Committed to his/her job and to the team as a whole and not merely in their own role
  • Respectful and considerate of the rest of the team.

Good team players can usually see beyond their own piece of work and are
able to appreciate the larger picture and vision that is behind the specific
project or objective.  They are pro-active and good motivators of both themselves and others.  They enjoy being a part of the success of their team and of the competitive advantage gained.

Are you one of them?

  • Organisations invariably use efficient teams
  • Teams are cohesive and work is stronger
  • Members support and motivate each other

Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News

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Getting the Most Out of your Day

We all have just 24 hours in a day so why is it that some people seem to get more out of their quota than others?  Well, in the end, it is down to using techniques – and below are some of my favourites.

Take the first 30 minutes of your day so that you can plan your daily activity.
Don’t start your day until you have completed your time plan.  The most important time of your day could be the time you schedule to schedule the rest of your time!

Be organised and plan activities in advance so that there are no last minute surprises which take up precious minutes, or hours, and stress you out.

Go to bed early.  An extra hour‘s sleep gives you an additional 365 hours per year!  Now that can’t be bad!

Do your ‘to do’ list before you leave the office so you know exactly what you are doing the next morning.  Organise all your files before you leave so you have everything to hand.

Don’t answer your email as soon as you get into the office unless you have given yourself a specific time to do this, but when you do – then turn your email off!

Schedule extra minutes when you leave to go to an appointment.  Don’t always be the last one to arrive, with everyone looking at you.  Grow the reputation for being always on time and reliable. Continue reading


Is Self-employment a holiday?

Many of you may dream about being self-employed, being independent, not being answerable to anyone, deciding your own working hours and taking as many holidays as you want. However, that may not be the reality of the self-employed person’s work/life balance!

The number of self employed workers in the UK has recently soared to a 20-year high of 4.1 million [which is 12% of the population] according to the Office for National Statistics.

However, when the self-employed person does eventually get away from work, the chances are they can’t switch-off because they are worried about their business, concerned in case they miss that big order they have been chasing for months and the loss of earnings associated with it. They may actually miss being in front of the computer screen!

So is being self-employed the rosy picture it is sometimes painted? Well, for many it is but those are individuals who are disciplined, organised and are resilient to the knocks when they inevitably take place.

An increasing number of the population are choosing to become self-employed for many reasons – they could be disillusioned working for someone else and never seeing the rewards themselves, or feeling insecure in their job and they don’t want to be called into the office to be told they have been made redundant!

However, self-employment is not right for everyone and, as with any decision that you make in life, you have to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages. Continue reading


How to be More Confident at Work

Do you remember back in school that there was always a popular and confident person who seemed to get the most attention from the teacher. They would always be the first ones to put up their hands to be chosen to speak, despite the fact that they didn’t always get the answer right! Invariably, they would also be the ones who would be chosen for team games and given extra responsibility in class.

Let’s now fast-forward 20 years and you might well find that same person in your own company, having now been promoted rapidly through various management levels to a senior management position of influence.

You try to persuade yourself that it doesn’t matter but it does because you just know that you are really more capable than they are and, to you, they just seem to be arrogant. But nobody else seems to think this way other than you! Sound familiar?

However, you know in your heart that everyone is different and just because someone is ‘confident’, it doesn’t necessarily make them ‘competent’. Continue reading