“I’m being bullied”, it’s a catch cry which strikes fear into the hearts of all employers. And with good reason. In New Zealand, an employee only has to show one instance of bullying to make a successful claim against you, and it is the feelings of the victim that matter.
In our case study, the employer had an employee who made some major mistakes, resulting in the company being audited by the tax department and being put at risk of having their trading licences revoked. For the employee, this was not the first time these type of mistakes had occurred, but it was the first time the consequences had been quite so bad for the company.
At every instance, the company manager had discussed the mistake with the employee, and individual blame had not been accepted. The employee was aggressive and it was easier to for everyone on the team to ‘avoid the confrontation. Over time the employees learnt behaviour was ‘if I shout loud enough then they will back off’.
Using the HRtoolkit Quick guide to courageous conversations, the manager was able to handle the situation and push back on the inevitable ‘you are bullying me’ claim.
At HRtoolkit, we see this as an all too common picture. The victim of bullying was the manager, not the employee, but employee behaviour has not been identified as bullying. Over time inappropriate behaviour became accepted and began to escalate.