Harvard Business Review blogs on workplace bullying

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 HBR post

Fast’s co-authored study on abuse of power at work (with UC-Berkeley psychologist Serena Chen) was the subject of an earlier post.

5 responses

  1. Hi, David –

    I posted a comment at Mr. Fast’s Harverd Business Review blog before I read your post here. There I briefly touched on a possible common thread underlying bullying behavior that appears to resonate with the above (but not as well written!).

    I also addressed the use of a conflict mode tool during the hiring process and the implementation of a conflict coach/mediator team in the aftermath of a bully. I want to be clear that a conflict mode tool would not be used to “weed out” potential bullies during the hiring process. Instead, it would be used to raise awareness and allow for proactive measures: providing training for the potential bully and/or placement of the potential bully within the organization (i.e., considering workgroup dynamics, etc.).

    Hope this makes sense. I’m wearing too many hats this morning!

    Take care.
    Debra Healy
    Healy Conflict Management Services

  2. Hey, maybe you northwest types pronounce it that way!

    And not to worry, plenty of Harvard kids aren’t the best spellers…. 🙂

  3. Pingback: End Bullying » Sunday thoughts ..

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