Have you ever experience one of the following in your workplace: personal attacks like yelling or threats? Insults or laughing at you when you fail? Spreading rumors, sabotage, personal information like performance appraisal made public? Unrealistic deadlines or being pushed 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 insecure, or jealous. It is unable to do his/her job or not feel competent enough to be successful.
The consequences of this behavior go from personal issues to productivity loss. Personal issues include health complications, self-esteem, or emotional. Targets are very skilled, highly competent people with a lot of technical knowledge. It can be a new employee who has been very successful in a similar role, with years of experience. Likable people or those prone to support continuous improvement initiatives are also targets.
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 and your focus. It makes you feel that if you are successful enough; you will be the next target. Bullying creates stress, which is a source of hypertension, depression, and anxiety. Sickness creates attendance problems. Work accumulation, not meeting due dates, and customer issues are caused by attendance.
This cost money: a higher absenteeism rate usually creates over time. More use of medical insurance will increase premiums and compensation claims. The team stress level increases, losing focus and decreasing morale. The situation creates a hostile work environment which is a step away from possible lawsuits. Sooner or later bullying targets resign. With he or she, the motivation to work and practice continuous improvement goes out of the door too. The worst part is that the bully stays. Along with him or her, the fear, incompetence, inefficiency, and lack of commitment also stay.
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. No lean journey will be successful if we allow bullying. Respect for the people is the most important mindset for continuous improvement and bullying is not part of it.