Bullying is much less likely to happen in a workplace where colleagues respect and value each other. And as a manager, you can play a major role in developing a positive team culture – both through the behaviours you model and those you expect of your employees.
Dealing with a bullying claim
Workplace bullying can be reported in a range of ways – by the person experiencing it or by witnesses; in writing or verbally; by telling a supervisor, manager, business owner, their health and safety or union representative, or someone in their HR team.
If you see unreasonable behaviour happening, it's important to step in. As a manager, it's also part of your role to intervene if you're asked to by a member of your team. If someone approaches you directly about bullying behaviour be sure to keep a record of what you did. You should also know how and when it's appropriate to escalate an issue.
If you don’t have a good understanding of how to do this, talk to your HR/occupational health and safety leader about the workplace policies and the procedures in place.
Accused of bullying?
Being accused of bullying can be upsetting and comes as a shock for some people. It's important to be open to feedback from others, and to be prepared to change your behaviour.
If someone approaches you about your behaviour, try to remain calm. Listen carefully and ask questions if you're unclear about anything that has caused offence, or you think there's been a misunderstanding.
Apologise and - here's the most important bit - stop the behaviour that's causing the issue. You might think it's 'only a joke' or that the other person should be able to 'handle it', but the reality is that you're causing offence and distress.
If you believe you're being unfairly accused, you should discuss this with your manager or HR officer. In many cases an informal discussion between you, the person making the allegation and a third party will resolve the issue.
Being accused of bullying can be stressful and may affect your health and wellbeing. Talking to someone confidentially can help. Employee Assistance Programs (if your workplace has one) are a good place to start, or check in with a counsellor, or your GP.
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