My colleague was going through some tough times in the workplace at the expense of a classic bully. The most disturbing part was that this behaviour had become acceptable and the senior management was doing nothing to curtail the behaviour.
I had a follow-up conversation with my colleague only to find out that he was no longer working there and it was a choice that he did not make. The manner in which he was released was also demeaning. I assured him that he was on to bigger and better things hopefully in an organization that was not supportive of workplace bullying. Thinking about him, I could recall many situations where bullying had taken place and the management did little or nothing to address it. They even marketed themselves as a desired place to work but had a high level of disengagement.
You ask yourself though why did this happen? My colleague demonstrated leadership skills – skills that could be fine-tuned and enhanced, resulting in a great leader. In some cases, great leaders are feared in an organization that supports a bullying culture. That is the case where my colleague was working. He was being bullied as he has followers – people who believe in his vision and service to their clients. They are not following out of fear and intimidation.
Bullies care about only one thing – being No. 1. You wonder what it must be like to live in the home of a bully. Perhaps they are being bullied at home and this is their way of regaining their self-esteem. I have seen bullying in other organizations and realized that we did nothing to combat it at the expense of the victims. By doing nothing, we were building a culture where bullying was acceptable. We did not realize the impact that it had on our most important asset – our people. We did not realize that having to deal with bullying on a daily basis can cause us to become disengaged in the workplace. Disengagement results in lost productivity and an increase in complacency all of which has an impact on the bottom line in the organization. Customers/clients can tell when they walk into your organization if this is a great place to do business. They will walk down the street to your competitor if they are dealing with employees who are full of negative energy. Negative energy is a characteristic of a bully.
When it comes to my colleague, I have mixed emotions. I am happy that he is out of the bullying culture and is free to use his leadership skills in an organization that believes in its people. But, I am sad that he had to experience this as it can take a toll and have a long-term effect.