Let me ask you a quick question:
Is your job making you sick?
Does arriving at work each day give you a queasy, clammy and uneasy feeling?
Does the thought of encountering your bully co-worker or manager turn your stomach and does the spectre of an upcoming performance review give you the dry heaves?
Sorry for the graphic language, but for millions of workers, this quivering sense of dread at the beginning of the work day is all too familiar.
If you want to feel better at work, you must look at the actions you can take as an individual to remedy the situation.
What might come as a surprise is that these steps can also produce company-wide change.
Is being a whistleblower worth the risk? That's what this post is all about.
A workplace bully mistakenly believes that hassling, nagging, micro-managing, and scolding others is the only way to "get things done."
From the outside looking in, it's clear that these individuals, whether they are co-workers or managers, suffer from a distinct lack of imagination.
They simply can't picture any other way of dealing with people.
Unable to assemble the psychological tools to motivate others positively, they instead tighten their grip and their hypercritical tendencies take over.
Blame, shame and gossip mongering rules the day.
The result? Burned out employees, high rates of turnover, and a nauseating sense of unease hanging in the air among those who are left behind.
This raises an important question. Can this disturbing trend be detected by and reversed within a business?
Good news: Yes, it can work... but only if you play your cards right.
You just have to understand who has the power to make the change you're looking for and at what stage you are in your relationship with this person.
You would never ask a person you don't know to marry you on the first date. That's why you should never ask a person in a position of authority who doesn't know you to join you in a matrimonial quest to remove a bully -- no matter how unlikeable your bully may be. This is where most "do gooders" go wrong.
To get powerful figures on your side, you have to build genuine, trusting relationships with them first. The secret is to appeal to their interests. That's right. If you want management to "tune into" workplace bullying, make sure you're broadcasting on their favourite station: WIFM (What's In It For Me?). What I mean is that you have make the case that helping you will help them too.
But first, let's talk about "relationships"...
At Erase Workplace Bullying we divide workplace relationships with superiors in three different categories: Skeptical, Attentive and Heroic.
Skeptical: If They're Unfamiliar With You, They're Unlikely To Side With You
This is where you need to be strategic to get the ear of individuals who have the power to make changes in the workplace.
To reduce skepticism, you need to be more than an advocate for change.You need to show this person how "correcting" the workplace bully can make them look good. You can do this by "future-casting." Bring this individual's attention to how the bully's actions have led to losses in productivity... and then, paint a clear picture of how the changes he/she can make will turn the ship around.
Attentive: Familiar, Concerned But Not Totally Convinced
These are human resource "experts" that you've taken the time to introduce yourself to. They've shown interest but may still need some convincing that keeping you and your co-workers happy at work is best for everyone involved. Maybe at this point, they see your supervisor only as a bit "rough around the edges." You're going to have to present evidence that sets off alarm-bells and encourages them to take a much closer look at the day-to-day operations.
Heroic: Your Real Advocate
These are people, usually superiors, who have become close allies. They've already committed to your cause because they know your work and commitment to the goals of the business. They know you really, really well and they want to help. Now, you're either wanting to increase their confidence in you or boost their conviction that your bully at large is too expensive and troublesome for the company to keep around.
If you have corroborating stories from other co-workers who have also experienced harassment it may be easier to get your ally to take action on your behalf.
Once you make your case, this person can use their power to start fixing what is broken.
If they do, congratulations, you've done a great job!!
What To Do Next...
This post has looked at the different ways you can raise awareness of bullying, based off of authority figures' familiarity with and trust of you.
If you have no relationships with management you obviously MUST start by positioning yourself as an evangelist for productivity and profitability.
Even if you aren't able to bring your bully down, by becoming an advocate for the success of the company, you will raise your profile and position yourself as an invaluable resource at work.
What do you think? Is being a "whistleblower" worth the risk? Leave your comments below and let's get the conversation going!
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