Bullying continues to be prevalent in modern workplaces as we have been discussing in two recent Foxed? podcasts.  It may even be on the rise.  The challenge for leadership teams is not only devising a coherent strategy but being clear about the practical steps that will result in meaningful change to culture and behaviours.  This has become more complex in the Covid era of hybrid working practices.

The pace of workplace change has been accelerating.  The influence of significant movements since 2017, followed by the massive disruptive effects of the pandemic, has changed the context dramatically. 

The margin for error around behavioural performance in work has narrowed significantly.  However, the hallmarks of a typical executive level bullying issue have not changed.  They include low self-awareness and high self-interest, mixed with technical or financial success, which often results in issues not being addressed.  Add to this a triggering event, such as an executive not getting what they want or a performance issue with a colleague and bullying dynamics can emerge. 

Successful leadership teams understand that addressing underdeveloped skillsets is imperative.  There has never been a more important time to invest in people management skills.  Leaders should focus on:

  1. Spotting and addressing individual behavioural issues well before crisis point.  This means setting expectations early and intervening effectively ahead of time;
  • Examining how well embedded the values of the business are by how they affect what really matters to people.  In other words, who gets in, who gets let go and between those points, who gets rewarded and who gets promoted.  The critical value of respect should guide a rejuvenation of HR policies;
  • Ensuring people managers know what they need to do to embed business values and to manage tricky situations with confidence; and
  • Demonstrating leadership by taking action, which makes clear the business has no tolerance for bullying behaviours.

Please listen to our podcasts for discussions between Ivor Adair and Graham Browning, Freshfields’ troubleshooter on people issues for 20 years and former trainer and director of the Resolution team at Byrne Dean, about the issues explored in this blog. Do get in touch with us at podcast@foxlawyers.com if you have any questions or thoughts about these issues.