The schoolyard isn’t the only place where bullies roam. When they grow up, they may bring their unacceptable behavior into the workplace.

In fact, a recent study indicates that bullying is a growing problem at work: In a CareerBuilder survey, 35% of responding employees said they’d been bullied at work in 2012, up from 27% in 2011.

Watching for signs
There’s no hard and fast definition of bullying, but an observant manager will want to watch for signs like these:

  • constant destructive criticism
  • fault-finding over trivial matters
  • undermining of a target person in front of others
  • abusive language or threatening tones of voice, or
  • teasing whose intention is to embarrass or humiliate.

If you see one or more of these behaviors in any of your employees, you may have a bully on your hands.

It’s about respect
What do you tell a bully? Start with “Respect your co-workers.” Your organization may have a policy on respect that you can demand bullies comply with.

If not, point out how their actions are harming the morale and/or performance of their co-workers, and tell them there will be disciplinary consequences if they don’t stop. Follow through as necessary.

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