Workplace bullying requires assertive response

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Employees who fall victim to abuse and bullying at the workplace have several options in terms of recourse action.

However, experts in the HR field believe a systematic and focused strategy of documenting incidents with the idea of discussion at top level to hold those responsible accountable is the most professional and rewarding way to deal with the problem.

Teryl Schroenn is the CEO of Accsys, a member of the Business Connexion (BCX) Group and a national supplier of HR, payroll and Time & Attendance solutions.

Schroenn is of the view that both outside and in the office, bullying is about control and power.

She believes that if this scenario occurs to the point where the victim feels powerless and has reached the point where he or she stops believing in themselves, the aggressor has achieved their objective.

“The reality of low self esteem impacts every area of life. When it hits you in your skills and abilities, day-to-day effectiveness is a challenge, let alone applying for promotions. There is no “one size fits all” answer, and it really does require courage and commitment. If it is financially viable, therapy is a key part of rebuilding self-image. If it isn’t, there are steps that somebody who is being victimised can take. However, it is a reality that people in management often do not have the skill set to deal with entrenched bullying, and victims might be seen as wasting management’s time,” says Schroenn.

To avoid this and to take the necessary control of the situation, the recommendation by Accsys, an established provider of solutions that empower decision makers, are focused on people development, is to be meticulous about recording events and incidents.

This involves setting a time frame to be documented and then taking action by keeping record of all relevant bullying behaviour including dates, times and facts.

“If appropriate, enlist the help of a colleague,” says Schroenn.

“At the end of the period, sit down and read carefully through the documentation. Ask a friend, mentor or trusted person in your private life to read through it, and give an honest assessment. Should you decide that the behaviour is so extreme that it is causing a serious drop in your confidence and ability to function in the workplace, set up a meeting with the relevant management to discuss your concern.”

It is Schroenn’s experience this approach has the best possible results. It either offers the victim clarity in the situation, enabling them to take more decisive action and respond with more assertiveness, or it offers management a platform from which to take the necessary and appropriate action.

“Do ask for help quickly if you are feeling disempowered and ineffective at work. A company culture that builds a positive, motivated and empowered workforce has to be in everybody’s best interests,” Schroenn adds.

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