Bullying: feedback from the profession

Guy Pink, head of personnel at Victim

"Recruitment is key to getting in people with the right approaches – its not just about experience, but their behaviour values
and beliefs. Training managers is also vital in ensuring that they are aware of
these issues and what the organisation expects of them and their staff, so
issues are less likely to arise or where they do they can be resolved as
quickly as possible. From personal experience I can look back to managers who I
now recognise were bullying both myself and my colleagues. At the time there
was little written or spoken about this – it was just accepted as part of the
work culture – and I think that there is now far more awareness backed up by
legislation as to what is acceptable behaviour for people when they are at
work. Sometimes HR is so focused on working with others that it forgets the
need to lead by example."

Danny Kalman,
HR director at electronics company Matsushita Europe

"It’s important to raise this issue, not only by having HR policies,
but with a message from the top that bullying of any kind will not be tolerated
and will be dealt with firmly. If that message is not only delivered by words,
but by deeds, it will be heard very loudly. All companies should follow their
values/business principles, and ‘respect for the individual’ and ‘fairness and
honesty’ are fundamental points which should be adhered to at all times."

Alan Warner, corporate director of
people and property at Hertfordshire County Council

"What we are seeing is an upsurge of people reporting bullying. Some
years ago there was unfortunately little credence given
to bullying and people got away with it. The HR community has led the way in
getting the issue dealt with seriously and it is marvellous that people now
feel able to come forward. HR people must stick to their quest to help
eradicate what can be a very corrosive influence in the workplace. The
processes they put forward must be fair, accessible and as speedy as possible.
It is hard to see why any right-minded manager could find an argument to do
anything other than support a bullying-free environment."

Martin Moore, HR director, British

"This is always tough to deal with. In a previous role at a
manufacturing organisation we carried out a management review, encouraging our
staff to give us feedback on how they were managed. It soon became clear that
some staff felt they were being treated in a coercive fashion. This was clearly
quite incompatible with what we were trying to achieve, and as HR manager I
tried to help the plant’s management team to realise that its style was
inappropriate and that it could achieve a great deal by changing it. This
didn’t go down well, and I left some months later to pursue my career
elsewhere. Enough said."

Saudagar Singh, HR director, utility firm Npower

"HR needs to work on improving management and leadership skills so that
managers have the capability to create the level of productivity and financial performance
without the need to bully or create unnecessarily stress. This requires HR to
engage and obtain the commitment of the senior team. Rather than focusing on
so-called anti-bullying training pro-grammes,
companies may be better advised to invest in improving their managers’ people
management skills as well as the prevailing culture."

Mel Northfield, HR director at
investment bank Mitsubishi Securities International

"It is important to remember that the definition of bullying is quite a
personal or subjective thing, and what really matters for
harmonious working conditions is
the way the recipient feels. The hard
job for HR is to sort the wheat from the chaff and opine on what is bullying
and what constitutes a legitimate management action as part of a ‘normal’
working relationship. We have implemented compulsory online training for all
line managers covering a range of subjects including bullying and harassment so
as to raise their awareness."

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