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By LegalEdge News

Bullying at work v how to give staff constructive feedback 


In light of Dominic Rabb’s recent resignation, how companies deal with staff behaviour is, not surprisingly, in the spotlight. (See also our previous blog: trouble brewing – tacking workplace bullying early.) 

So when does a tough management style stray into bullying? 

ACAS defines bullying as ‘unwanted behaviour from a person or group that is either offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting, or an abuse or misuse of power that undermines, humiliates, or causes physical or emotional harm to someone’.

Rabb was criticised, following a five-month(!) investigation, for giving feedback which was insulting rather than constructive, using terms such as ‘utterly useless’ and ‘woeful’. It found he had not intended to humiliate or upset those around him, but that he ‘ought to have realised earlier that some individuals would find it difficult to cope with his style and should have adjusted his behaviour accordingly’.

You might find it surprising that this sort of behaviour was ever considered appropriate or acceptable. Particularly in government. And we now have a whole generation that are refusing to put up with or stay silent about this sort of behaviour. Having grown up with anti-bullying campaigns in schools and with more information on what constitutes bullying at their disposal they are more vocal against it and simply less likely to put up with it! Many also know they’ll hold multiple jobs in their lifetime, so they’re quick to get out of a bad situation (compared to previous generations).

Being treated with respect at work is non-negotiable. 

It always should have been quite frankly. And there’s a groundswell behind it now.   

Having said that, people have different approaches as to how to raise concerns about performance issues. And some may need help in navigating how best to do this and how to get the best out of their team. 

How can we help?

We regularly help clients implement policies and deliver practical training covering what’s acceptable behaviour, and what’s not, as well as giving practical and memorable examples of how things can and do go wrong, why it matters and how to do things differently to make a difference.

Please get in touch if you would like help with policies or to discuss our training.

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