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Workplace Violence Prevention News

The Workplace Bully

Friday, June 28, 2013

By: Hector Alvarez

The Workplace Bully

Is your organization at risk?

Over the last few years our Nation has suffered through several very highly publicized and tragic incidents involving “active shooters”.   And while the term, active shooter, has unfortunately become common place in our vocabulary, it is still a very rare occurrence.   Comparatively, you’re just as likely to be struck by lightning as you are to be involved in an active shooting situation.  While I agree and fully support training efforts of organizations to prepare for these events I’m concerned that too much focus is being placed on response vs. prevention.

Every single day thousands of employees are assaulted, threated, harassed and bullied.  Bullying goes beyond the overbearing, control freak of a micro-managing supervisor.  It’s the middle school jerk all grown-up and employed, making coworkers lives a living hell.   To be fair and clear, the issue of bullying falls into a harassment gray area that is still being sorted out. Further complicating the issue is the fact that oftentimes bullies are left alone because they can be perceived by upper management has “hard chargers” pushing workgroups to higher levels of productivity.

In my experience, the bully doesn’t often take their actions to a level of violence. They use fear and intimidation to make themselves feel better, to increase productive, or because of a misguided sense of motivation.  HOWEVER, any organization that allows this type of behavior to take place is almost encouraging violent behavior, certainly increasing liability risk due to harassment claims and is operating on borrowed time.   Allowing workplace bullying to continue creates, supports and even encourages inappropriate behavior.  The face is that it’s impossible to draw a line around one type of inappropriate behavior.  

So, while I encourage you to include catastrophic event planning, like active shooter response, in your preparedness efforts, don’t forget about the basics.  It’s very likely that there is somebody being bullied in your workplace today, or right now.   Think of it like preventing a major forest fire; you don’t start by purchasing a fleet of million dollar air tankers, you start with the campers through education and enforcement.    Let’s get back to basics.

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