USC management professor Nathanael Fast, writing for the Harvard Business Review‘s Research blog (link below), discusses workplace bullying and concludes with his recommendations for creating a bully-free workplace:
- “When hiring managers, set the bar high with regard to interpersonal skills and leadership experience.”
- “Help new managers feel comfortable in their high-power roles.”
- “Remind managers to focus on core values.”
- “Design jobs in such a way as to avoid heaping unrealistic expectations onto individual leaders.”
- “Educate yourself and your managers about the psychological consequences of power.”
It’s a good general list, but even if an organization does all five things, bullying may still be a problem. Bad managers can still slip through a good hiring process, and peer bullying can occur even with the best managers on board. In addition, if employers don’t empower their human resources offices to take bullying seriously (even when the alleged bully is a high-ranking manager), then targets inevitably will be sacrificed and abandoned.
Fast’s co-authored study on abuse of power at work (with UC-Berkeley psychologist Serena Chen) was the subject of an earlier post.