Unfortunately for employees in today’s organizations, workplace bullying has become a prevalent and serious issue. Leaders should address this problem head-on by providing harassment training – specifically on bullying – to ensure all employees have an action plan to identify and stop workplace bullying.
Any action plan designed to prevent bullying should begin with learning that identifies what bullying behavior looks like. By definition, bullying is persistent, offensive, intimidating or insulting behavior that makes victims feel upset, threatened, humiliated (not good enough, stupid, incompetent) or vulnerable. It can be verbal, physical, social or even online in nature, so it’s important to coach employees to recognize bullying in all its forms.
The second component of a bullying action plan should be to stop bullying when it occurs. This involves teaching employees to speak up for themselves when they experience behavior that “crosses the line.” Harassment training will go a long way to empowering employees to speak up for themselves when they’re being bullied. Speaking up takes courage, but when done calmly, confidently and factually, it can have a very good outcome. It helps when employees plan what they will say ahead of time – even practicing it aloud – and focus on stating the facts of what has happened along with how it made them feel.
Another important part of a workplace bullying action plan is to encourage employees to stand up for others when they witness bullying. Sometimes the victim of bullying doesn’t feel they have the courage, power or will to stand up to their bully. But if other employees witness the bullying, they have an obligation to take action: either addressing the bully directly or reporting the bully to a higher authority. If a witness chooses to stand up to the bully personally, they need to state their observations (the bullying behaviors they’ve witnessed); share their concerns for why those behaviors are a problem, and explain the impact of the bully’s behavior – on the victim, the team, and the whole organization.
Providing training on harassment and bullying can build awareness among employees to help recognize problematic behavior, and can also teach skills and techniques for preventing and stopping bullying and other abusive and disrespectful workplace behaviors. CRM Learning offers numerous harassment training videos including Preventing Workplace Bullying: How to Recognize and Respond to Bullies at Work.