Are you a bully boss?

A campaign to stamp out bullying in the workplace has been launched by private sector union Amicus, which is asking managers to take a good look at themselves.

Research shows that 4 out of 5 managers admit to bullying occurring in their organisations. In response, Amicus has produced some tips on how small business owners and managers can avoid being a bully.

Be firm but fair Discipline is an important part of management but try to make your point firmly and clearly without putting the fear of God into miscreants.

Keep it cool Don’t blow your top if the pressure is getting to you. Tantrums could earn you the bully label and are not the most effective way of managing staff.

It is good to talk Make time to sit down and communicate with your team. Working out the week’s priorities will help reduce stress levels in advance.

Don’t make it personal Don’t rant about employees causing you problems behind their back as this may undermine them and ultimately make them feel inferior and excluded.

Maintain a level playing field While people deserve praise when they have done a good job, make sure you play fair. Letting ‘favourites’ develop is a dangerous game that can upset office politics and make people feel excluded.

Learn from other’s mistakes Think about how you felt when your own previous bosses treats you badly and adapt your own management style accordingly.

Listen without prejudice If someone challenges your idea or way of working, don’t bite their head off. Think about what they have to say, make a note and let them know how their idea may work next time.

Avoid cliques If you organise company drinks or other inclusive event, make sure everyone is involved and people don’t make feeble excuses to miss out. This will reduce the chances of cliques developing.

Bully law to hit small firms

A landmark ruling in the House of Lords could have opened the door for employers to be held responsible for workplace bullying by their employees, warns the Forum of Private Business (FPB).

Following the case of William Majrowski, an audit co-ordinator for Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Trust, the FPB is urging small businesses to review their employment policies to ensure they are covered as fully as possible. Majrowski made an internal complaint against his line manager, who was found to have subjected him to homophobic harassment. Majrowski then sued his employers under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, arguing they were vicariously liable for the behaviour of the line manager.

The County Court originally rejected the claim, but the Court of Appeal overturned that ruling and the House of Lords has now upheld that decision, saying that employers can be liable for harassment by employers in their workplace if a sufficiently clear link between the work and the harassment can be proved. This applies for harassment by an employee against a colleague or against anyone else.

‘The judgement enables people to sue the employers of bullies under the Protection of Harassment Act,’ explains Mace & Jones Head of Employment Law Martin Edwards. ‘The Act was brought in to criminalise stalking and until recently it was not widely recognised that claims could be brought under the act by employees bullied at work.

‘The decision also exposes employers to claims by third parties who are bullied by employees of the company. The message for employers is to update their anti-bullying policies – and ensure they are implemented effectively.’

See also: Three quarters of Brits suffer bullying in the workplace – Three in four Brits have encountered bullying at work, with two thirds confessing to taking part in it themselves.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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