Bullying Behavior

Bullying Behavior

Dear Fran,

I feel like we have a new trend in the workplace with more employees reporting “bullying” behavior.  In some cases their managers are discussing performance issues with them and they are coming into HR telling me that the manager is bullying them.  In other cases, it is not as clear cut, especially when it is dialogue or interaction between team members. I think I need help defining when normal workplace behavior elevates to bullying.




Dear Unsure,

Anyone who knows me or has followed Ask Fran, is aware that my favorite two words are IT DEPENDS only followed by “you need to look at these situations on a case-by-case basis”.

If a manager is following clear guidelines for performance improvement, putting clear cut, defined issues in writing with examples of where the employee is either violating policy or needs improvement that is not bullying or harassment no matter how the employee feels or what they say.  Employers still have the right to enter into performance improvement programs with employees not meeting established guidelines.

Here comes the IT DEPENDS.  Do you have a good job description that defines what acceptable performance is and what is expected?  Do you have a clear policy on the issues where your company measures acceptable performance with details on how the performance plan will work and what policy violations can result in disciplinary action and termination.  If you have done your homework and communicated acceptable standards of performance to your employees, holding employees accountable to those standards is not bullying. For more information, review our recorded webinar on Bullying in the Workplace.