Bullies beware!


With great power comes great responsibility. However, every arena has a few rotten apples that abuse this power to yield influence over their peers, subordinates or even their superiors. Bullying can assume various forms, but the underlying principle of undermining someone’s reputation and confidence is the same. Companies today are becoming very sensitive to the issue and striving to nip all such in stances in the bud to give their employees an opportunity to work in a liberated atmosphere.

Deivasigamani,VP HR, Kaar Technologies, gives us examples of what bullying at workplace may entail,“Workplace bullying may include mistreatment of one or more employees through verbal abuse, non-verbal behaviour or even interfering with a worker’s ability to get the job done. Examples include partnering the victim with a difficult personality in the team; assigning projects that do not come under the employee’s domain expertise; allocating irrelevant tasks to the employee or requesting him her to work continuously on weekends and not approving leave requests.“

What kind of employee is generally targeted for bullying and why? K Umasanker, cofounder, AVTAR Career Creators, answers,“Generally the victims of bullying are at contrasting ends at the work place. Employees who are independent and refuse to be subservient as well as those who are non-confrontational or vulnerable could be the targets. Similarly, employees who are talented and skilled could be targeted as they are the preferred `go-to’persons for the new employees. Insecure bosses and co-workers can’t stand to share credit for the recognition of talent. People who have physical features that attract attention are some of the other targets of bullying.“

Premilla D’Cruz, professor organisational behaviour at IIM Ahmedabad and secretary of the International Association on Workplace Bullying & Harassment (IAWBH), tells us the potential consequences of bullying in an organisation: Umeed Kothavala, CEO, Extentia Information Technology, explains how curbing bullying needs to be a part of the very fabric of the organisational culture,“At the risk of being seen as bureaucratic, policies are good. Decision-making that is based on policy rather than personality helps create an atmosphere of fairness. Laws should be created by men and women with heart and empathy, but once the laws are created, it is the law that should govern and not the whims of people. Also, it is important to create a culture that weeds out those that misuse their power and a system of hearing grievances and redressal must come into place. Providing services like a concierge to run personal errands can ensure that there is no reason for anyone to have to run personal errands for anyone with power.“


Targets report depression, anxiety, sleep issues and various physical health complaints, which become chronic like digestion problems or hypertension;


People who know or support the target go through emotional distress. Those who choose to turn a blind eye may be less affected but feel afraid that they could also be targeted;


If the bullying is overt, severe and long-lasting and the attempt to rectify the situation results in further victimisation, then morale is weakened, productivity and commitment are adversely impacted; targets in such instances quit and take up new jobs at the cost of their career, earnings, etc.


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