A study conducted by Griffith University indicates that nearly one quarter of Australian senior employees have been targets of upward bullying. The studies reinforced that whilst managers have formal authority, they can also be victims of bullying and need as much support as other staff.
It has been commented that upward bullying will increase with the new bullying powers of the Fair Work Commission to come into effect in January 2014.
What does it look like?
Upward bullying can display itself in many forms including:
- Regular, inappropriate and unreasonable behaviour
- Employees making an unreasonable complaint to another senior member of staff in relation to their superior.
- A “ring leader” rallies the team together to compile multiple complaints in an attempt to target their superior.
- Continuous and open challenges of the superior in an attempt to undermine their position.
How to manage it?
The Griffiths University study indicated that managers are often reluctant to report upward bullying as they feel it is an indication of their inability to manage their team. Some basic steps for a manager who believes they may be suffering from bullying include:
- Report inappropriate behaviour to your manager.
- Build better team and personal relationships. Try to break down the “us” and “them” mentality.
- Clarify expectations within your team. Involve the whole team in developing a team charter with values that are pertinent to the team and define the underpinning behaviours. In this process, define your role and responsibilities as a manager and clarify the team’s roles and responsibilities. This process will also allow you and the team to discuss the behaviours that have been occurring and whether they should continue or stop.
Workplace bullying, whether it is upwards or downwards, can be hard to grapple. When investigating workplace bullying look for a pattern of behaviour which is regular and consistent. Ensure you are clear on your workplace policies and procedures and stick to them!
For advice on workplace bullying, please feel free to contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on 02 4963 7373.