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Dealing With a Workplace Bully? Read This…

December 6, 2018   By Nancy Lewis

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Dealing With a Workplace BullyConsider this classic workplace situation:  a work team whose members are all trying to do their best, perform at their highest level and sometimes just get through the day at the hands of a toxic team member who bullies, gossips, stirs the pot, has a chip on his shoulder and makes life difficult.

Worse yet, the leader of the team, when asked about this employee, says:

“but he does a great job of getting work done and is the only one who knows how to do __________.”

How many of you know this team bully?

How many of you know the leader who allows the bully to continue to bring toxic troubles to the team?

One Harvard study exploring 50,000 workers across 11 companies concluded that a toxic worker “engages in behavior that is harmful to an organization, either its property or its people.”

The study further found that “such workers can generate enormous regulatory and legal fees and liabilities for the firm as well as causing increased turnover and loss of employee morale.”

It was also found that the toxic worker is more often the well-educated, wealthy and prestigious worker rather than those who are low functioning or less productive.

According to a recent article in Inc. magazine, five of the most glaring signs of a toxic environment include:

  1. Gossip is spreading
  2. Morale is at an all-time low
  3. Leaders who are toxic foster a culture of distrust
  4. Health issues and absenteeism go up
  5. The human touch is lost – people are objects and there is little concern about well-being

As a leader, what can you do when you notice a workplace bully?

  • Be proactive - do not hesitate to address the concern and share your observations about this person’s behavior
  • Pay attention – do not disregard the feedback or concerns shared with you by other team members
  • Set expectations – ensure that all team members know bullying is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
  • Provide a definition of workplace bullying behaviors so there is alignment and understanding.
  • Never ever be a workplace bully!

Dealing With a Workplace Bully Infographic

At Living As A Leader, we offer a Leadership Development Series designed to produce leaders that can positively shape the cultural environment, reduce turnover and achieve crucial business initiatives. We do this by providing training, coaching and consulting with a focus on pragmatic communication tools for leaders at all levels of your organization.

For more information, contact Steph Kotlarek at skotlarek@livingasaleader.com

About the Author


Nancy Lewis

Principal and Co-Founder, Living As A Leader®

Nancy Lewis is an expert leadership development facilitator, coach and consultant. One of her greatest talents is designing and executing customized solutions to complex leadership challenges. With nearly 30 years in the field, Nancy is highly sought after as a versatile provider to many companies within a variety of industries.

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