Think your job is free from workplace bullies? Think again. A recent study found that 1 in 4 Americans experienced some form of workplace bullying in their lives. In “The Bully-Proof Workplace: Essential Strategies, Tips, and Scripts for Dealing with the Office Sociopath”, two coaches in workplace relations, guides workers at through the steps to identify and defuse conflict caused by workplace bullies and create a zero-tolerance, bully-free work environment.
Workplace bullying is a topic that few businesses are comfortable being open about. The authors of The Bully-Proof Workplace: Essential Strategies, Tips, and Scripts for Dealing with the Office Sociopath believe it’s critical. Written for workers and leaders alike, The Bully-Proof Workplace serves as a guide to identifying and eliminating bullying culture in the place where most adults spend the majority of their waking hours.
What is The Bully-Proof Workplace About?
To stop workplace bullying, Peter Dean and Molly Sheppard point out in The Bully-Proof Workplace, our society needs to confront the reality. Bullying is happening in the workplace, at all levels. A report from Manchester School of Management finds that workplace bullying is a growing problem. Bullying is not something that happens in certain occupations or industries, either. It is prevalent in the vast majority of them. It can occur at any workplace at any level of an organization. This means up, down, and sideways or even outside the organizational chart.
Ending workplace bullying in a practical way forms the core of what The Bully-Proof Workplace is all about. It is a workbook that helps individuals determine if their actions (or those of others) are facilitating workplace bullying. The book identifies four basic types of bullies (Belier, Blocker, Braggart, Brute). For each bully “type”, readers walk through a specific bullying scenario along with tips on how to address that scenario.
For workplace bullying to stop on an individual level, both leaders and workers must facilitate a bully-fee work culture. It begins with formal policies and consistent enforcement of those policies. More importantly, these formal policies must be informally reinforced through thought and action. Without this push, your workplace culture can quickly fall into a self-defeating situation where bullying culture is tolerated (or even celebrated)
Dean is a former editor, lecturer, and professor who co-founded The Leader’s Edge/Leaders by Design (an executive coaching and leadership development agency) with co-author Shepard.
Shepard is a former business executive who currently serves as the co-founder, president, and CEO of The Leader’s Edge/Leaders by Design with co-author Dean.
What Was Best About The Bully-Proof Workplace?
Many books talk about uncomfortable issues in the workplace, but very few books actually spend the majority of their content on confronting that uncomfortable issue. The Bully-Proof Workplace is one of them. The book gives real-life scenarios, not the one-dimensional examples that you often see in employee manuals. The book then walks readers through these scenarios providing scripts and commentary on how they could have handled the situation differently. This simple approach might be a welcome remedy for a person who works with a bully and doesn’t know how to respond.
What Could Have Been Done Differently?
Although The Bully-Proof Workplace definitely moves the conversation forward on workplace bullying, it may not take the conversation far enough. This is especially true for individuals debating whether to stay or leave a job because of workplace bullying. In the scenarios given in the book, many of the employees involved left. The key question remaining is this: Would these workers still have stayed in their current jobs if they had implemented the book’s strategies? At which point would they have left their jobs? This is something the authors perhaps should have spent more time exploring.
Why Read The Bully-Proof Workplace?
Because workplace bullying can happen at any level in the organization, the book can be used by anyone. For anyone in a position of power at an organization, formally or informally, this book offers strategies and tips for maintaining a bully-free culture within the workplace. It also helps leaders reflect on their own actions to determine if their behaviors could be considered bullying. For anyone who reports to someone in a position of power, this book offers defensive strategies to defuse conflict and collect the necessary evidence to justify your actions (whether it’s to leave for a new job, move to a new job site or something else).
This said, an ideal audience might be the staff in the human resources department. This department is often tasked with creating and enforcing the policies of a business’ leadership. This puts them in a unique position to document, implement, and measure the impact of the book’s message in their workplace.