Everyone assumes that bosses do the bullying. Not the other way around. But actually this isn't true.
People in power DO get bullied. And what’s more, it can be incredibly lonely and difficult to know how to deal with this. 😢
If you’re a small business owner, it’s probably even worse for you. Why? Because you’ve nobody above you to report the bullying to – and to help you through it.
Of course, what we’re talking about here, is ‘upward bullying’. It’s not as common and there isn’t a great deal of guidance available on how to handle it. Nor is there a quick fix.
However, it is on the rise – especially since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why I’m keen to offer up my advice if it’s happening to you.
HOW YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE BEING BULLIED 🤔
Bullies can be super-clever. They say and do things in such a way that you end up doubting your own feelings. And as the boss, you might even be wondering if it’s YOU and not them.
So, how do you know if you’re being bullied? The thing is, it can take so many different forms.
The UK’s Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (acas), defines ‘upward bullying’ as:
👎 Your employees showing continued disrespect
👎 Your employees consistently undermining you
👎 Your employees excluding you on purpose
👎 Your employees refusing to complete tasks
👎 Your employees spreading rumours about you
👎 Your employees doing things to make you seem unskilled or unable to do your job properly
In my experience, I’ve seen it happen when employees have been:
👎 Messaging each other about their boss, saying unkind things, without their boss knowing
👎 Organising work dates without inviting the boss
👎 Turning other employees against the boss, creating a negative working environment
👎 Mocking the boss before the start of a meeting, then going silent when the boss walks in
Some people might think this type of behaviour comes with the territory of being the guy or gal in charge. And yes, one-off incidents can often be tolerated. But, when it’s unwanted, it’s making you feel uncomfortable, and it’s happening on a regular basis – it’s bullying!
GATHER THE FACTS 🔎
Keeping a diary of what’s going on will help you in two ways:
First of all, it’ll corroborate the way you feel. Seeing a list in black and white of all the things that have happened to you in your own workplace, will give you the confidence to do something about it.
Secondly, it’ll help prepare you for the conversations you need to have with your people.
When you’re being bullied, emotions can run high. That’s why having a factual log of what’s happened and when, will help to keep emotions intact.
CONFRONT YOUR BULLY 🗣
Once you have the evidence to hand, you need to confront your bully. Do this informally first of all.
Arrange a face-to-face meeting where you won’t be overheard or interrupted
During the meeting, give your employee the examples of the behaviour you’ve noted, and how that’s made you feel
Give them an opportunity to explain their side of the story – you might even find they’re completely oblivious to the impact they’re having on you
Use the opportunity to make sure they know this behaviour must stop – as of now!
Make it clear that disciplinary action can be taken if you have any more concerns about their behaviour
Reinforce that bullying is unacceptable and not tolerated by anyone
Usually, that conversation will be enough to nip things in the bud.
MAKE SURE YOUR HR POLICIES ARE IN TIP-TOP CONDITION 👌
When it comes to bullying, you can better protect everybody in your business with HR policies. Why? Because when things are written down, you can refer back to them, and everyone knows where they stand. They also help to show you – as the boss – in a great light 🙆
Policies that specifically relate to bullying include:
A Bullying and Harassment Policy – This document is designed to spell out the behaviour you expect from your employees and how your business deals with this kind of behaviour.
A Grievance Policy – This document articulates the process for handling complaints in your workplace.
A Disciplinary Policy – This document outlines what happens when you have concerns about the way your employees conduct themselves. Specifically, in terms of their performance, behaviour, or actions.
🛒If you don’t have any of these policies in place, please visit my online shop where you’ll find compliant and competitive policy templates that you can easily top and tail to suit your business.
A GROWING TREND 📈
I read an article in CEO Magazine about the relationship between the coronavirus pandemic and the rise in cases of ‘upward bullying’.
With a growing number of employees working from home, some commentators believe there’s been a radical power shift (in favour of the employee) that bosses haven’t been prepared for. Even their HR policies don’t cover this new way of working.
If you think about it, a boss loses more control if their staff members are working in their own environment – at home. They can’t force an employee to join a video call. They can’t see if an employee is scrolling through Facebook during their one-to-one session. They can’t force an employee to come back to the office.
Has the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the situation for you?
YOU’RE NOT ALONE 🤗
As a small business owner, having to deal with bullies by yourself can be a friendless place. It’s always worth reaching out to your peers in other industries for support.
But, if it gets to the stage where you need a HR pro by your side, you can always grab a power hour with me! I’ve personally dealt with situations like this before and have helped small business owners to regain control. Click here for more information.
Alternatively, if you need the training, the templates, and the traction to run your business, lead like a boss, and grow your team, take a look any my current services.
Here's a helpful list of my most popular resources...
- Take the Leadership Quiz to uncover your natural leadership style.
- Watch my free leadership masterclass to learn how to build a high performing team.
- Grab my free HR Guide to help you avoid costly legal mistakes.
- Access HR Templates here. Use code BLOG10 at the checkout to get 10% off your first order.
- Book a free consultation with Mandy here, to learn more about us working together.