When Policies And Procedures Do Not Reflect The Way Things Are Really Done

An organization’s cultural capital is a type of asset that impacts what an organization produces and how it operates. Cultural capital is analogous to physical capital, like equipment, buildings, and property, or to human capital, like the accumulated knowledge and skills of workers, or reputational capital, like franchise value or brand recognition. In an organization with a high level of cultural capital, misconduct risk is low, and its organizational structures, processes, formal incentives, and desired business outcomes are consistent with the firm’s stated values. Unspoken patterns of behavior reinforce this alignment and drive corporate outcomes.

By contrast, in an organization with low levels of cultural capital, formal policies and procedures do not reflect the way things are really done — that is, the stated values of the organization are not reflected in the behavior of senior leaders or the actions of the organization’s members. Misconduct then results from norms and pressures that drive individuals to make decisions that are not aligned with the values, business strategies, and risk appetite set by the board and senior leaders. Rules may be followed to the letter, but not in spirit. All of this increases misconduct risk and potentially damages the organization and the industry over time.

As with other forms of tangible and intangible capital, an organization must invest in cultural capital or it will deteriorate over time and adversely impact the organization’s productive capacity.

Bullying: Often A Tolerated Form of Violence by Employers

Violence in the workplace starts far before clench hands fly or deadly weapons douse lives. Where disdain and animosity routinely uproot cooperation and communication, violence has happened.

It is time to treat workplace bullying equipollent to sexual harassment or racial discrimination, to identify the perpetrators, establish rules of conduct and penalties, and even pass laws proscribing and penalizing bullying.

Bullying in the workplace is very far reaching today, however before we can come to comprehend it, we should comprehend that bullying is not quite the same as innocuous incivility, impertinence, rudeness, prodding and other well-kenned forms of interpersonal torment. Bullying is a type of violence, however, it rarely includes fighting, battery or homicide. It is often sub-lethal, non-physical violence. And as research data show, bullying crosses boundaries of gender, race and organizational rank.

Attributes of Bullying

In what manner can an issue so common not trigger societal shock? Silence by targeted employees is understandable in light of the fact that disgrace comes from being controlled and humiliated.

Co-wokers’ silence bodes well in a dread tormented condition when individuals are uncertain on the off chance that they may next be targeted.

Notwithstanding how bullying is displayed – either verbal assaults or key moves to render the target ineffective and unsuccessful – it is the assailant’s want to control the objective that spurs the activity.

Bullying incorporates abuse that incorporates same-sex and same-race badgering. Research has found that in just 25% of bullying cases does the objective have secured amass status and in this way qualify the offenses as sexual harassment or racial discrimination. A college overview led by University of Illinois analysts found a comparable strength of bullying over types of illegal harassment. The fact that many types of bullying are not illegal makes it barely noticeable despite the fact that it is three times more common than its better-perceived, unlawful forms.

Men and women can be bullies. Women make 58% of the culprit pool, while men speak to 42%. Research likewise demonstrates that when the targeted individual is a woman, she is harassed by a woman in 63% of cases; when the objective is male, he is bullied by a man in 62% of episodes. Most bullying is same-sex provocation which makes up the dominant part of bullied individuals (80%).

Bullying is almost imperceptible. It is non-physical, and almost dependably sub-deadly working environment viciousness. Workplace homicide gets featured on the news as striking uncommon occasions even in the violent United States. Corporate chiefs focus intensely on aversion and reaction forms, topped with zero tolerance rules.

Strikingly, bullying is psychological violence, for the most part incognito and once in a while clear. It is mental savagery, both in its inclination and effect. Despite how bullying is exhibited – either verbal attacks or overt moves to render the objective ineffective and unsuccessful – it is the attacker’s intention to control the objective that spurs the activity. The significant hazard is mental harm, however, counseling is not offered by employers to complainants who report bullying.

The trademark normal to all bullies is that they are controlling contenders who misuse their agreeable targets. Most domineering jerks would stop if the tenets changed and tormenting was rebuffed.

Bullying nearly resembles the phenomenon of abusive behavior at home. Both were covered in silence before being conveyed to open consideration. Accomplice viciousness casualties at first were reprimanded for their destiny. In the long run, the conduct was workplace harassing merits a similar advancement from acknowledgment to disallowance. The glaring distinction amongst local and work environment mental viciousness is that the last finds the abuser on the employer’s payroll.

Why Employers Should Address Workplace Bullying?

Bullying is 3 times more pervasive than sexual harassment. Illegal discrimination and harassment require noteworthy speculations of time and cash to recognize, adjust and avert. Employers definitely recognize what to do about harassment. Bullying is costly: employment practices liability can be significant. A bullied employee, frequently the most capable employees, are driven from the workplace. Turnover is costly. 

What Employers Should Do?

Employers should create values-driven policy. An ideal anti-bullying policy should include a declaration of unacceptability; the organization must state its displeasure with the misconduct; hostile workplace protections for everyone; extend rights to everyone regardless of protected group status; extend, combine or replace existing anti-violence & anti-harassment policies; inescapable definition, reserve prohibitions only for severe incidents, to clarify the threshold for taking action; non-punitive separation for safety; documentation of adverse impact to discourage frivolous complaints or abuse of the policy; incorporate perpetrator pattern & practice over time; credible enforcement processes; credible third-party investigation & adjudication process; foster employee trust, to remove influence of personal relationships; progressive disciplinary action not zero tolerance, to allow for change in conduct; retaliation prohibition to count offenses of retaliation separately, to stop the cycle of violence.

From Healthy Debates to Personal Attacks and Bullying

In a community full of opinions and preferences, people always disagree. Employers should encourage active discussions and welcome heated debates on the services or products, but a personal attack should be ground for immediate and permanent termination of employment of the offender. Zero tolerance is the best policy and practice to apply to personal attacks in the workplace.

The fallacy of Attacking the Character or Circumstances

One type of fallacy is the personal attack.

The argument concerning the attack of a person’s character or circumstances is characterized and shown to be sometimes persuasive but normally fallacious. This fallacy occurs when someone refutes another’s ideas by attacking the person rather than the ideas.  The fallacy draws its appeal from the technique of “getting personal.” The assumption is that what the person is saying is entirely or partially dictated by his character or special circumstances and so should be disregarded.

Personal Attacks, Bullying, and Harassment

The Workplace Bullying Institute defines “workplace bullying as the repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators.” While some of the specific actions a person may take against another person that would constitute bullying is similar, or even identical, to the actions seen in Workplace Harassment, there are several distinct difference:

  • Bullying can be perpetrated by anyone against anyone. Harassment only pertains to Protected Classes, such as race, religion, sex or gender, nationality, etc. Protected Classes is not a consideration in cases of bullying.
  • Bully is characterized by repetition. A single “incident” may be mean and hurtful, and probably violates a business’s own professional conduct rules, but it does not constitute bullying. A single incident of, for example, sexual harassment, however, is grounds for legal action.
  • In cases where bullying has resulted in legal action, the grounds for legal regress focuses more on the harm caused to the target, both psychological and physical, rather than the illegality of the act. Harassment cases focus very specifically the violation of Harassment Laws.
  • Most importantly, unlike Harassment, there are no specific state or federal laws that explicitly protect a worker from bullying. For that reason, it is incumbent on employers to establish policies prohibiting bullying, even a single act should not be tolerated.

Bullying can be viewed differently from Harassment in that the intent of the action is to harm in some personal or professional sense, regardless of the “protected” characteristics about the individual that would fall under harassment. Race, religion, gender, age and other state and federally protected class attributes may be a component of bullying but they don’t have to be. This means that bullying has the potential to be a larger and more pervasive problem than harassment.

Federal and State Harassment laws have made awareness of harassment a focus of many organizations’ employee training. Most employees today are at least aware that policies and laws against, for example, sexual harassment, are in place. Bullying, however, is still largely under-addressed in many organizations. And even in organizations that have rules against bullying, many employees still don’t understand what bullying is.

Workplace bullying can come in many different forms from various people within an organization or company and typically falls into three categories: Personal attacks, professional attacks, and actions designed to apply control or manipulate an outcome. When the term “bullying” is used, people often think of physical harm or abuse. But bullying can be any intentional, repeated action that is specifically intended to make another employee feel bad and affect their happiness on the job. Some examples of each include:

Attacks intended to cause personal suffering

  • Spreading rumors, hurtful gossip or innuendo
  • Yelling, name-calling, mocking, insulting or ridiculing
  • Unwanted physical contact or physical gestures that intimidate or threaten
  • Invalid or baseless criticism
  • Accusatory or threatening statements
  • Faultfinding or unwarranted blaming
  • Displaying offensive photos or objects
  • Temper tantrums, mood swings, shouting
  • Humiliation, public reprimands or obscene language
  • Ganging up against a co-worker
  • Aggressive posturing, ignoring

Attacks intended to affect job performance or career

  • Denying access to resources, assignments, projects or opportunities
  • Stealing or taking credit for another’s work
  • Interfering with or undermining someone’s work performance
  • Ignoring phone calls or messages
  • Little or no feedback on performance
  • Withholding information essential to performing one’s job
  • Toxic e-mails

Actions intended to control or manipulate

  • Failing to invite someone to an essential meeting
  • Threatening job loss
  • Excessive monitoring or micro-management
  • Assigning tasks that cannot be completed by deadline; setting unrealistic goals
  • Interference or sabotage
  • Ignoring a coworker with the intent to harm or control
  • Treating a worker differently than peers and co-workers
  • Ostracism, isolation, dissociation or exclusion from others
  • Refusal to take responsibility
  • Excessive, impossible, conflicting work expectations or demands
  • Inequitable and harsh treatment
  • Other objectionable behavior designed to torment, isolate, pester or abuse

Looking through these characteristics it is easy to see many of these behaviors in employees in almost any work environment. It is important to remember that bullying is an action specifically intended to hurt an individual or a group, not simply an act of poor communication and interpersonal skills on the part of an employee or supervisor. Further, these actions are reserved for the target individual or group and not applied to others.

What can you do?

It is not uncommon that a person being bullied chooses not to report it out of fear of retaliation from the employee or the company they work for. Still, workers have rights and it’s possible to exercise them when necessary while also remaining professional. Further, ignoring the problem will not usually change things so remaining silent won’t help.

If you believe you are a being bullied there are professional steps you can take:

Look critically, and honestly, at the situation:

Take the time to evaluate what’s really happening. Are you the target of a bully, or are others also getting the same treatment? Is it repeatedly happening or is it just a bad day? Maybe the individual is just an unhappy, angry person who treats most people the same way. While none of these behaviors should be acceptable in the workplace, there is a difference between bullying and general, bad behavior. Bullying is persistently aggressive and/or unreasonable behavior against a specific group or individual.

Address the bully directly

If you know you’re being bullied, firmly, and professionally, tell the individual that their behavior is unacceptable and politely asking that person to stop. Try not to engage with the bully any further than that because a verbal match was not your intention. Further, arguing or yelling can exacerbate the situation and make you look just as guilty.

If you do not feel comfortable doing this then speak with your supervisor and ask for their assistance.  Your supervisor should be able to guide you through the steps you need take. Mediation is one-way supervisors can help to resolve the issue.

Keep a record

It’s always a good practice to document events as soon as they happen. Write down the details of any bullying to include what they said, what you said, along with the time and date. This will assure that should the time come to take things to another level, you are not relying on memory and you can remain factual and dispassionate. Both will help to strengthen your position.

Use your Chain of Command

Most organizations have either formal or informal procedures in place for addressing conflict and it usually begins by speaking to your supervisor. Other procedures may be documented in your organization’s employee handbook.

If the person bullying you is your supervisor then moving up to the next supervisory level or the human resources office will usually be next.  Always keep any physical proof and documentation that you may have and present it to the proper personnel. Describe what is happening in detail and explain how the situation is impacting your ability to do your work. It’s important to stress that you want to find a productive, comfortable way of addressing the situation.

Check your emotions

Bullying can be perceived as a serious threat even when it’s not physical. It is normal therefore to react emotionally; getting angry, defensive, and even crying are all normal reactions to a perceived threat. As hard as it may be, remaining calm and unemotional can go alone way toward maintaining the upper hand when addressing the bully or seeking assistance.

Seek Assistance

Many people are afraid to address issues of bullying because they fear it could impact or jeopardize their position or their employment. But bullying left unchecked can harm more than your career, it can affect your mental, physical, and emotional health. It is never in the best interest of an organization for employees to be bullied and most supervisors, and certainly business executives and owners, will not tolerate it. Besides the negative impact on worker productively and morale, in worst cases, there can be legal ramifications to unchecked bullying in the workplace. So don’t keep attacks to yourself.