Have you ever experience one of the following on your workplace: personal attacks like yelling or threats, insults, laughing at you when you fail, spreading rumors, sabotage, personal information like performance appraisal made public, unrealistic deadlines or being the push to complete a task for which you have not been trained.
Those are examples of bullying, and it does exist in the workplace. The perpetrator can be someone who feels threatened, is jealous, insecure, unable to do his/her job or not feel competent enough to be successful.
Consequences of this behavior go from personal issues (health complications, self-esteem, emotional) to productivity loss. Targets are very skilled people, highly competent, perhaps a new employee who has been very successful in a similar role, likable people or with a lot of technical knowledge and/or experience. Targets are usually the kind of people who are more prone to support continuous improvement initiatives.
I have been a witness to this kind of behavior, it is horrible. It not only affects the target but the people around as well. It takes away your peace of mind, your focus and makes you feel that if you are successful enough; you will be the next target. It creates stress, which we all know is a source of hypertension, depression, and anxiety. Sickness creates attendance problems, work will accumulate, due dates won’t be met, maybe will affect customers.
This cost money: higher absenteeism rate usually creates over time and more use of medical insurance will increase premiums and compensation claims. The team stress level increases, losing focus and decreasing morale. The whole situation creates a hostile work environment which is a step away from possible lawsuits. Eventually, bullying targets resign and with he or she, the motivation to work and practice continuous improvement goes out of the door too. And what is worst, the bully stays and with he/she stays the fear, incompetence, inefficiency, and lack of commitment.
As leaders, we need to be in the lookout for bullies and stop their behavior, for the benefit of our employees. It is our responsibility to promote a healthy work environment and bullying is the opposite of that. No lean journey will be successful if we allow this kind of behavior, respect for the people is the most important mindset for continuous improvement and bullying is disrespectful behavior.