Bully Resolution

Bullies in the workplace

The procedure for addressing a suspected problem with bullies in the workplace is customized to the severity of the problem within the organization.

Emotions and disinformation tend to run very high when the problem is finally introduced to an outside, independent counsel for help. The possible procedure for disarming the potentially explosive conflict could include some or all of the following procedures:

  • Assessments that include the suspected bully, the targeted victim and, peers. Some type of diagnostic evaluations are usually included
  • Create a policy to define and prevent bullying behavior
  • Develop informal solutions initially to minimize the bullying behavior
  • Formal enforcement of anti-bullying behavior
  • Try to provide restorative justice for the victim
  • Deal with confirmed bullies for the purpose of reducing or eliminating abusive behavior
  • Optimize accountability of the bully’s behavior by having it affect bonuses, pay raises, or eligibility for promotions
  • Monitor any bully behavior that serves to undermine or challenge the new anti-bullying policy

There is currently an anti-bullying bill referred to as the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB) that has been introduced in 22 states i.e. New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts have come the closest to getting it passed through the relevant Assembly Labor Committees. The HWB will give an organization an exemption from the HWB when it becomes law. Contained in the bill are several affirmative defenses for employers. The main one is a provision granting freedom from vicarious liability for the malicious and health-harming bully. A policy and enforcement procedure only needs to be in place in order to qualify for immunity from liability. (Gary Namie, PhD, The Bully-free Workplace)

Bullies in the workplace

Conflict Resolution Efforts in a “Bully” Related Issue

One of the questions that is frequently asked by H/R professionals or Consultants who specialize in Conflict Resolution is “Why is the rate of success in a mediation effort between an employee and a Bully so low?” The response is simply, “because the tactics and procedures established for Conflict Resolution used in the corporate setting don’t apply when dealing with a Bully.” There are two major reasons for this conclusion: 1.) the “target” who is already compromised and often emotionally wounded is mandated to participate, and 2.) workplace bullying can be considered a form of violence (most commonly referred to as psychological violence). Though usually  non-physical and lethal in a covert manner, it is but still considered as interpersonal violence.

It is next to impossible to mediate violent relationships. In bullying, only one person is rational. The Bully’s interest is tainted by his/her need to dominate or intimidate the other party. There is no equal footing at the start. There is no halfway in the chasm between parties when one is under assault by the other.

In a recent survey conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute asking employees who entered onto arbitration, “What was the outcome?” The results would strongly imply that the mediation process could be described as “an exercise in futility.”