Anti-Bullying Week takes place from 12- 19 November 2018. This year’s theme is Choose Respect. Bullying is often associated with the playground, however nearly a third of people are experiencing bullying at work. 72% of whom are bullied by their manager. There is still work to do to raise awareness about workplace bullying and how to tackle it.
I featured on the inspirational Petra Velzeboer’s Advantage to Adversity Podcast. I spoke about my experience of workplace bullying and burnout. It wasn’t easy for me to talk about what happened as it was a painful time. I had worked hard for five plus years building a name for myself in a tough environment. The interesting thing was this manager had previously been a colleague working in a different area. I was pleased when she was hired to manage a fluctuating department. Very slowly, but surely though, she turned on me. She stopped me from carrying out valuable work by delegating projects to others without my knowledge. She preventing me from liaising with staff networks, a key part of my role and building allies.
If you want to hear the full story you can listen to the podcast below.
When I reflect back, I realise how mentally unwell I became. I had the classic symptoms of not wanting to get out of bed, crying at the thought of going to work and feeling very anxious about what she would do next to undermine me. The irony is, five years later she was pushed out of the organisation by the most senior person. Karma does win, but it takes time! I can see now, seven years later, how scared and afraid she was due to her lack of knowledge and expertise. She did not have the emotional intelligence to articulate this, as it would have made her vulnerable. It doesn’t excuse the behaviour, but it does enable me to understand her need for control.
Even though I would never want to relive the experience again, it was the launch pad to a better career. Forty-five job applications (yes, you read that correctly) later I secured a senior role at Imperial College London. I built a team, worked with fantastic people and made lifelong colleagues. Often, it’s the people we want to escape from that motivates us to make long-term positive change.
Spotting the signs
If you are experiencing workplace bullying, which includes (but is not limited to):
- being intentionally excluded from meetings and events;
- your work being given to someone else without discussion or your consent;
- being undermined and/or belittled at a 1-2-1 or in front of someone. This could include shouting, derogatory comments and your ideas being shut down;
- being the consistent target of “banter”;
- being ignored or marginalised;
- your work being subject to over-scrutiny and criticism (as oppose to constructive feedback);
- lack of respect for personal boundaries;
- being expected to answer emails and phone calls at all hours of the day and night (if you are not in the emergency services or a security role/shift role);
- defamatory remarks being said and made in emails and social media and;
- actively being blocked for promotion for personal not work-related reasons.
You don’t need to suffer in silence. It’s not easy, I appreciate that. I didn’t report it as such as ranks would have closed in on me. However, that doesn’t mean you should do the same thing. Coming up with strategies to manage the day-to-day to protect yourself is a place to start. You can seek support from:
- Friends, colleagues and family members
- Trade Unions
- GOV.UK Advice
- In-house HR Advice around bullying and grievance procedures
- Dignity at Work Advisers (if you have them in-house)
- Employee Assistance Programmes (if available)
- National Bullying Hotline UK
- Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
- GP- if you need to get signed off work
What have you done in your organisation to tackle workplace bullying? Share your thoughts below and on social media using the following hastags #ChooseRespect and #NoBystanders.
If you would like to know more about how Diverse Minds can help your organisation to address bullying in a proactive you can find out more here.