Sunday, 6 June 2010

Bully for them!

We have all met a bully at sometime in our lives.  At school, in the workplace, in various institutions, in the church, in the club etc., etc., the bullies come and go.  Some places are in denial about bullying, claiming that it does not exist because they have established values, objectives and policies. There is this rather stupid belief that if one commits a policy to paper and talks about it enough, then somehow in some unexplained way the perceived problem will disappear and the right course of action will always come about.  There is a belief that setting objectives has the power to control performance.  Now with psychological and social programming there is some truth in this. But people are looking for objectives to achieve perfect performance.  We live in a fallen world; false hopes of perfect performance through objective setting, targets and agreed values will lead to frustration and failure.  I'm not saying that setting objectives etc. is wrong.  I'm challenging the false philosophy that believes that setting targets and smart objectives would have some mystical force to achieve the desired outcome.  I have seen situations where objectives, targets, values have been agreed, discussed and debated without any extra resources, funding and investment.  Failure, frustration and futility came about, but this was covered up by retrospective evaluation.

Bullying has been the bane of many a workplace.  The office bully is often easily identified.  He or she may has risen in the organization because they are driven; they are driven by their own temperament to reach objectives and targets, often at the expense of those under them by running roughshod over the feelings of others, insensitive to the needs and wishes of those beneath them.  In their selfish world, performance comes before the people.  People are regarded as instruments to achieve goals and results.  Bullies, then, lack empathy and a good understanding of human frailty.  They consider themselves strong, strong leaders of the weak and wanting. 
The top management may support and honour these bullies because they seem to guarantee results and meet the perceived objectives. They are high achievers and bully for them. But I want you to consider another side of the coin.

These bullies often leave a trail of wounded workers in their wake.  Sick leave, unauthorized absences to avoid the bullying, mental health problems, poor performance, fear factors, high staff turnover, job vacancies, lack of confidence, and low morale can often be directly attributed to bullying behaviour.

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