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 rumours, sabotage, personal information like performance appraisal made public, unrealistic deadlines or being push to complete a task for which you have not being trained.
Those are examples of bullying, and it does exist in the workplace. The perpetrator can be someone who feels threaten, is jealous, insecure, unable to do his/her job or not feel competent enough to be successful.
Consequences from this behavior goes 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 on a similar role, likeable people or with a lot of technical knowledge and/or experience. Targets are usually the kind of people who is more prone to support continuous improvement initiatives.
I have been witness of this kind of behavior, it is horrible. It not only affect the target but the people around as well. It takes away your peace of mind, your focus and make 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 wont 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, loosing focus and decreasing morale. The whole situation creates a hostile work environment which is a step away from possible law suits. 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 committment.
As leaders, we need to be in the look out for bullies and stop their behavior, for the benefit of our employees. It is our responsibility to promote a health 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 mind-set for continuous improvement and bullying is a disrespectful behavior.