How to Protect Yourself Against Workplace Bullies
With the economy doing so well, recruiting and retention have become important issues for organizations. With an emphasis on recruiting and retention comes a renewed focus on workplace issues and fostering a workplace environment that keeps employees happy. Many issues have come to the forefront, but one that hasn't gotten much attention to date is workplace bullying. In The Bully at Work, Gary and Ruth Namie aim to change this.
The Namies define workplace bullying as "the repeated, malicious verbal mistreatment of a Target (the recipient) by a harassing bully (the perpetrator) that is driven by the bully's desire to control the Target." They explain that the control typically is a mix of "cruel acts of deliberate humiliation or interference" and withholding the resources or support necessary for the Target to succeed at work. According to the Namies, the effects of bullying on an individual can be severe, including damage to the Target's health and self-esteem, relationships with family and friends, and/or economic livelihood.
The book is divided into three sections. The first, titled "Workplace Bullying: Silent Epidemic, National Scandal," covers what the Namies see as an epidemic of bullying in the workplace, including chapters on understanding bullies and the trauma bullying can cause for Targets (the Namies' preferred term for victims of bullying). The second section, "BullyProof Yourself to Stop the Hurt," includes chapters for Targets that cover how to deal with the psychological effects of bullying and how to prepare oneself to fight back. The final section, "BullyBusting to Topple the Tyrant," covers the steps a Target can take to end the bullying, including going through the internal review process at the company, consulting an attorney and taking legal action, and getting away from the bully by transferring to another department or taking a job at another company.
Information and Tips
The authors make a valid argument that workplace bullying is a serious concern, but their case is weakened by their admitted sympathy for the Target. While certainly Targets of bullying are worthy of sympathy, the Namies' strong association with the Targets does not allow for an objective look at the problem. In the Namies' view, bullies and the employers who allow them to flourish are inherently evil - not to mention the legal system that makes such behavior difficult to fight in the courts. This viewpoint leads them to make claims that are overly broad and extremely negative, yet not backed up with any evidence. For instance, they describe the typical staff of human resources departments as "yucky people." Such statements do little to advance their cause.
Although it falls short at times, The Bully at Workfulfills the Namies' aim to describe the problem of workplace bullying and provide support and tactics for the Targets of bullying. If you recognize a problem with bullying in your workplace, this book is a good place to turn for information and tips.