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ARTICLE: BUILDING A CULTURE OF RESPECT; DEALING WITH WORKPLACE BULLYING
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ARTICLE: Building a Culture of Respect; Dealing with Workplace Bullying
Expert: Johnson, Shelley

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Building a Culture of Respect:
Dealing with Workplace Bullying

An Article (May 2011) by Shelley Johnson, Managing Director
Learning and Performance People
theatre@work

The world has recently become aware of the Sydney school boy, Casey Heynes, and his story of repeated bullying throughout his school life. In an interview with Current Affair on Sun 20 March 2011, Casey was asked if he had advice for others who are being bullied at school. His reply was “Look for the good days, keep your chin up, school ain’t gunna last forever.”
Sadly, school age bullies grow up and enter the workplace. Bullies don’t stop being bullies just because they leave school. In fact, using the results of international research, the Beyond Bullying Association in Australia has estimated that somewhere between 2.5 million and 5 million Australians experience some aspect of bullying over the course of their working
lives (AHRC 2010).

Brodie Panlock was aged 19 when she died. She didn’t die in a car crash as often happens to teenagers these days. She died because of workplace bullying. Brodie had been an employee of Café Vamp at Hawthorn in Melbourne, and after relentless bullying six days a week by her manager and workmates, she could take no more and committed suicide 15 months later. People like Brodie Panlock don’t die every day but people like Brodie are bullied in workplaces either aggressively or subtly every day.

It’s difficult enough these days attempting to meet business goals without having to work in an environment where people are anxious. Many people in employment today have been rated as poor performers because their organisations tolerate bullying in the workplace. The poor performance is an outcome of the bullying behaviours by other employees or their managers.

I have conducted training sessions for thousands of people from companies in Australia in preventing and managing bullying as well as manager responsibilities. Some workplaces still view bullying behaviour as “a rite of passage” - apprentices and some people in the armed forces are obvious examples.  When the bullying is easily observed e.g. yelling and assault, many companies do begin to follow their complaint and formal counselling procedures to deal with the situation. Unfortunately, there are too many cases where the bullying is subtle and the victim finds it difficult to speak up. I have asked people why they stay in such an unhealthy environment. Some older people put up with the bullying because they fear not being able to find another job. Others have huge financial commitments and some become “institutionalised” over time and get used and accept the bullying. Sadly, some people have no idea that they do not have to put up with being bullied.

One major area to consider is to ensure that your managers know what to do when bullying is reported to them. Many managers have fear about how to manage their people and how to confront and manage bullying. They accept poor performance, turn a blind eye to bullying behaviour in their teams and the vicious cycle continues. In other cases, managers believe that everything is ok once the bullying has stopped. This is not necessarily true. People can still be stressed and on constant alert, fearing potential future episodes of bullying.

The Australian Government’s March 2010 Productivity Commission Research Report estimates that workplace bullying is costing the Australian economy 14.8 billion dollars per year. 

Having a policy written on a piece of paper isn’t enough. Giving that policy to your employees isn’t enough. Telling people not to bully others isn’t enough. Successful companies are having conversations with their employees about what a respectful workplace looks like and expectations of behaviour are agreed by managers and employees together, implemented and monitored. Is your company building a culture of respectful workplace behaviours?

For innovative ideas on managing and training your team regarding workplace bullying, contact Shelley Johnson on 02 95321236 or go to www.lapp.com.au 

 

ABOUT
Shelley Johnson has held various senior Learning & Development roles in large corporations.  Her experience over more than a decade, has enabled her to focus on designing company-wide learning frameworks, technical training, organisational culture change programs, leadership behavioural assessment and team development programs.  

Shelley established her successful consultancy in 2002 developing her client base to include the  Banking & Financial Services, Retail,  Medical, Travel, Energy, Insurance, Real Estate and Government sectors.
She is passionate about developing constructive organisational cultures by building trusting relationships and aligning people management processes. She is a specialist in designing leadership development frameworks and the learning required to support those. Shelley coaches leaders in behavioural change and assists managers to improve their effectiveness by focussing on their management strategies, behaviours and their impact on those around them.

Most people hate the thought of role plays, so Shelley Johnson takes a very different approach. Her recent venture, the innovative and entertaining  theatre@work  involves professional actors who perform workplace scenarios. The participants are encouraged to discuss, comment, and often coach the characters to behave differently.  The scenes are designed to be relevant to the organisation and industry, so participants can identify with the scenarios.
This enables Shelley to link theory and practice using believable workplace situations.

Shelley Johnson is available as Consultant, Facilitator and Key Note Presenter, locally and internationally, through The Signature House         www.thesignaturehouse.com

 


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