News Article

latest news in employment law

Bullying - A threat to business part 2

Published 01 Feb 2015

Following on from our January news item Bullying - A threat to business that is flying under the radar the discussion continues.

Bullying is not

  • The one off occasional instance of rudeness, tastefulness or the one off negative comment.  People have or bad days or are under stress and pressure. Bullying must be repetitive and targeted toward a specific individual or group.
  • Management setting high performance standards in pursuit of high performance, quality and safety standards.
  • Constructive feedback and legitimate advice or performance review.
  • A manager requiring that a legitimate and reasonable instruction should be carried out to a required standard.
  • Warning and/or disciplining an employee in line of with the organisations policies and procedures.
  • A single incident of unacceptable behaviour which can be defined as misconduct in the general sense of the word. 

Personal differences and disagreement are a natural occurrence in any human relationship and will also occur in the workplace. Conflict and disagreement, if managed properly, can be beneficial and constructive in the workplace and can lead to new ideas, solutions and initiatives. If the conflict is not managed properly it can lead to bullying, harassment and resentment.

To be able to manage conflict in the workplace it is good to have an understanding what causes this conflict:

  • Disagreement of data and information.
  • Competition for scarce resources.
  • Different personal values and perceptions.
  • Disagreement on process and procedure
  • Personal relationships and resulting personal animosity that can escalate.

It is a requirement of a manager or supervisor to ensure that subordinate employees are meeting and complying with the required work standards and expectations. To meet this requirement, managers and supervisors have to be assertive and address areas of substandard performance. These managerial corrective actions, if directed in a reasonable and non-personal manner, cannot be defined as bullying.