Hr Grapevine - How can HR tackle bullies at work?

An article written by Kieran Howells for HR Grapevine around Management and How can HR tackle bullies at work?

Generally speaking, there’s nothing wrong with some key competition in the workplace. 

Whilst gunning for the same promotions or projects can seem infuriating at the time, having a workplace rival keeps employers alert and ensures that they push themselves to achieve great things.

However, whilst healthy rivalry can be positive, it must be coupled with mutual respect between the two parties. If the worker finds that their workplace rival is actively sabotaging their work or attacking them personally, then, unfortunately, the relationship has become an issue.

So, what advice can HR deliver to ensure that a corporate bully doesn’t damage a colleague's career?

Don’t lose sight of focus 

Regardless of the actions of others, one of the keys to ensuring that their career isn’t damaged by the actions of others is to ensure that no matter what happens, their work continues to be carried out to a high standard. This may be difficult if they feel targeted but letting work slip will only create greater issues.

Don’t betray your morals

The concept of ‘fighting fire with fire’ can be an extremely dangerous urge to act on in the workplace. Whilst it is hard to ignore the effects of a corporate bully, it is essential that the worker doesn't reduce themselves to acting in the same manner. This can only lead to greater issues; they must stay above petty sabotage or an angry exchange of words. They may not see it, but others are paying attention.

Find allies 

If the worker finds that a singular individual is creating a toxic environment, there’s a good chance that their actions aren’t only affecting that one individual. Whilst it isn’t a good idea to spread office gossip, discovering if others feel the same way is important in building a case against the individual to take to HR.

Have a calm conversation

Workplace confrontation is never a good thing, but a calm and casual conversation to mend bridges can preemptively combat a bad situation. Chances are, the corporate bully simply feel threatened; if the worker can build a positive relationship instead, the issue can be solved.

Take appropriate action

If the worker followed the previous steps and attempted to discuss the issue with their colleague and problems are still occurring, it’s time to build a case with HR. They must ensure that they save every email and note every interaction – it may well be the case that their colleague's actions actually fall under the umbrella of workplace harassment, which can result in severe consequences.