Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Dealing with Bullies in the Workplace - A Guide for Employers

Bullying colleagues and employers can be an absolute nightmare for lawyers. The legal profession is rife with the problem as far as we can see (we get a lot of calls to our career coaching service specifically on this subject), particularly as the pressure to achieve targets and billing levels gets higher and higher in difficult economic circumstances.

Bullying is about power and control and the results can be absolutely devastating. At worst the target will eventually leave to work somewhere less unpleasant; at best they will stay; grit their teeth and get more and more miserable, and less and less productive.

It is estimated that workplace bullying affects 1 in 4 people at some point in their career.
Bullying is about actions that are deliberate, debilitating and repeated. The target will be bullied until they either leave the organization or is totally subjugated. And then the bully will find their next target.

How to Identify and Deal with Bullying:
1. Understand what bullying is and the harm it can do your people and your organization.
2. Don’t confuse strong management with bullying – there is a whole world of difference.
3. Make sure you have a bullying policy in place and make sure that policy is communicated and enforced.
4. Make sure your managers and team leaders are trained in identifying and dealing with bullies.
5. Watch for the signs that a bully is at work – they are actually very obvious.

The signs are showing up in any department where there is:
  1. high absenteeism;
  2. high sickness rates;
  3. high turnover;
  4. high litigation costs

  • 66% of organizations have no bullying protocols
  • 23% of bullies work alone
  • 77% coerce others to bully alongside them
  • Only about 4% of bullies are ever punished
  • Women bullies target another woman 87% of the time
  • Male bullies choose women targets 71% of the time

Further Reading
(the source of this article)