In any organisation where there is a hierarchy, there is always the risk of bullying. The more pronounced the stratification, the greater the probability that serious power imbalances exist.
Bullies thrive where their ability to abuse power is unfettered and is less likely to be detected. They disguise their harmful behaviour, making it difficult for victims to expose them.
Bullying prevention programs deal with organisational structural issues that should be addressed to counterbalance these risks. Navigating more empowering organisational structural models, as well as liberating practices within them, will limit risks and potential damage.
Bullying prevention training highlights the broad spectrum of workplace bullying that can exist within hierarchies where rank and status are important elements. Excluding, undervaluing, offending, humiliating, disrespecting and extreme unfair pressure and threats, both direct and indirect, are just a few indications of bullying that may be seen across a workplace.
Victims with little knowledge, tools and resources to draw from may feel compromised, humiliated and defenceless.
Bullies are generally relentless and if their position within the workplace offers them a sense of security for these abuses, they have more opportunities to do damage. It may intensify and can be carried out over a long period, leaving victims more vulnerable.
Addressing the root of bullying
Online equality and diversity training pays special attention to bullying, given that it causes all types of personal and organisational problems.
There is a chance that the magnitude of this destructive behaviour could go undetected, especially if employees do not feel that the organisational culture addresses these structural and power imbalances sufficiently.
The organisation’s strategies, policies and processes to overcome any risks must be made clear to employees at orientation and then further reiterated through training programs.
Some issues may be black and white. But there may also be grey areas requiring sensitivity, debate and ongoing guidance. Online anti-harassment training can clarify what might or might not constitute bullying and harassment in an organisational context.
During bullying prevention programs we also learn that predatory aggression and abuse of power can happen when subordinates question authority, point to problems and issues or have diverse ideas.
Distinctions can also be drawn between predatory and dispute-related bullying. We are more effective at problem-solving and tackling bullying when the root cause is clearly defined.
Knowing the signs and symptoms
Punitive action in the form of withholding crucial information, allocating unmanageable workloads with unachievable deadlines or even excessive monitoring, all bear the hallmarks of abuse.
Bullying prevention programs support tactful navigation around these incidents.
While downward bullying is probably the most obvious and publicised, upward and horizontal bullying also takes place. Therefore, the most crucial issue is to determine the source of power among abusers.
We need to be on the lookout for triggers, motivators and methods. We know that bullies devise their methods for each victim based on their specific personalities and the advantages they can leverage from certain organisational weaknesses.
Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is Power” and this is a compelling reason to undertake bullying prevention training. Building on this, Tony Robbins said, “Knowledge is not power, knowledge is only potential power. Action is power”.
Drawing from these insights, we can look at organisational models from a new angle while optimising them in the interests of distributing power equitably and appropriately.
Bullying prevention training is vital to recognise abusive and malicious practices and work towards eliminating them from the workplace to achieve fairness and dignity for all.