Stop Bullies In Their Tracks – Creating a ‘No Bully Zone’ Workplace

This is part 2 of the bullying in the workplace post.

As Edmund Bourke once said, “all it needs for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing”.  This is really pertinent if you are the victim of bullying, witness bullying in the workplace or are an employer.

How do you respond to workplace bullying? My belief is that for organisations, the best cure is prevention.

Bob Sutton, who runs a fantastic blog “work matters” ( has a controversial take on preventing bullying in the workplace – he calls it the ‘no asshole rule’. Although Bob’s language is controversial, he puts across serious and well researched information in an entertaining way.

Bob’s ‘rule’ deals with behaviour that I would consider bullying. You can see an interview where he talks in detail about his controversial theory: (

How to stop a workplace bully

If your organisation doesn’t have this as a priority, make no mistake that bullying is costing you money. One organisation we dealt with calculated the cost of one bully at $160,000 for just one year!  Also, workplaces who allow bullying are at risk of legal action.

So where do you start?

  1. Don’t hire people who exhibit antisocial behaviour in the first place
  2. Treat the behaviour as a performance issue that is dealt with seriously
  3. Have a set of guidelines and etiquette that governs the culture of the business
  4. Teach staff how to constructively deal with confrontation and bad workplace behaviour
  5. Staff in senior positions are more likely to bully so hold them to the highest standards, don’t let them get away with behaviour because they are a ‘boss’.

Involve your staff in setting guidelines for behaviour, because in my experience this seems to make people feel more comfortable in both following the rules and confronting ‘offenders’ who make momentary slips.

Guidelines don’t need to be legalistic, but they do need to reinforce that a supportive and safe working environment is non-negotiable and there are no excuses for bad behaviour.

Set out consequences on what will happen to those ignoring the rules and maybe even run a brief training session with your staff to really help them understand what behaviour is a ‘no go zone’.

Next time, I’ll talk about the steps you can take if you are the one being bullied.

Kate Klease was an executive at Vantage Human Capital, a specialist recruitment and human resources consulting firm that helps ensure clients have appropriate strategies in place to successfully retain, motivate and manage their people.

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