Learning and Performace People | (02) 9532 1236
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Learning and Performace People | (02) 9532 1236
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Learning and Performace People | (02) 9532 1236
Learning and Performace People | (02) 9532 1236
Learning and Performace People | (02) 9532 1236
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Learning and Performance People

Building a Culture of Respect:
Dealing with Workplace Bullying

An Article by Shelley Wilkins
Learning and Performance People

The world has recently become aware of the Sydney school boy, Casey Heynes, and his story of repeated bullying throughout his school life. In an interview with Current Affair on Sun 20 March 2011, Casey was asked if he had advice for others who are being bullied at school. His reply was “Look for the good days, keep your chin up, school ain’t gunna last forever.”

Sadly, school age bullies grow up and enter the workplace. Bullies don’t stop being bullies just because they leave school. In fact, using the results of international research, the Beyond Bullying Association in Australia has estimated that somewhere between 2.5 million and 5 million Australians experience some aspect of bullying over the course of their working
lives (AHRC 2010).

Brodie Panlock was aged 19 when she died. She didn’t die in a car crash as often happens to teenagers these days. She died because of workplace bullying. Brodie had been an employee of Café Vamp at Hawthorn in Melbourne, and after relentless bullying six days a week by her manager and workmates, she could take no more and committed suicide 15 months later. People like Brodie Panlock don’t die every day but people like Brodie are bullied in workplaces either aggressively or subtly every day.

It’s difficult enough these days attempting to meet business goals without having to work in an environment where people are anxious. Many people in employment today have been rated as poor performers because their organisations tolerate bullying in the workplace. The poor performance is an outcome of the bullying behaviours by other employees or their managers.

I have conducted training sessions for thousands of people from companies in Australia in preventing and managing bullying as well as manager responsibilities. Some workplaces still view bullying behaviour as “a rite of passage” - apprentices and some people in the armed forces are obvious examples.  When the bullying is easily observed e.g. yelling and assault, many companies do begin to follow their complaint and formal counselling procedures to deal with the situation. Unfortunately, there are too many cases where the bullying is subtle and the victim finds it difficult to speak up. I have asked people why they stay in such an unhealthy environment. Some older people put up with the bullying because they fear not being able to find another job. Others have huge financial commitments and some become “institutionalised” over time and get used and accept the bullying. Sadly, some people have no idea that they do not have to put up with being bullied.

One major area to consider is to ensure that your managers know what to do when bullying is reported to them. Many managers have fear about how to manage their people and how to confront and manage bullying. They accept poor performance, turn a blind eye to bullying behaviour in their teams and the vicious cycle continues. In other cases, managers believe that everything is ok once the bullying has stopped. This is not necessarily true. People can still be stressed and on constant alert, fearing potential future episodes of bullying.

The Australian Government’s March 2010 Productivity Commission Research Report estimates that workplace bullying is costing the Australian economy 14.8 billion dollars per year.

Having a policy written on a piece of paper isn’t enough. Giving that policy to your employees isn’t enough. Telling people not to bully others isn’t enough. Successful companies are having conversations with their employees about what a respectful workplace looks like and expectations of behaviour are agreed by managers and employees together, implemented and monitored. Is your company building a culture of respectful workplace behaviours?

For innovative ideas on managing and training your team regarding workplace bullying, contact Shelley Wilkins on 02 95321236 or go to info@lapp.com.au

theatre@work production

Crossing the Line – Workplace Bullying
This 2 hour theatre@work production explores the concept of developing respectful workplace behaviours and what happens when employees and managers condone disrespectful behaviour. We look at the implications of crossing the line into discrimination, harassment and bullying.
The audience has an opportunity to discuss what their company believes is disrespectful behaviour. They also have the benefit of asking questions to a workplace law consultant during the session.

Crossing the Line can be tailored to suit the working environment for a large range of companies and industries.
Learning Outcomes:
To increase participants’ awareness of:

  • the everyday interactions that come close to the line of respect / disrespect
  • the effect disrespectful behaviours have on others
  • the legal ramifications if people choose to bully or harass others

contact us to find out more

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