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Toxic Work Culture Series: Intimidation

I was in the middle of finalizing this post on intimidation when I received a call about an incident that occurred in one of my former workplaces where the employee was on the brink of crying. This signifies that bullying is alive and well in today's organizations. Please be sure to join hands with CPR every Tuesday and hashtag #stompingouttoxicworkplaceculture. Let's begin.

Workplace intimidation is a concern for every Human Resources Executive. Workplace intimidation refers to a repetitious mistreatment of someone at work, which can cause that person some significant health, emotional and psychological problems. Individuals who bully and manipulate employees are not leaders, so they attempt to strong-arm authority with tactics that go against every Human Resources policy. Unfortunately, there is also a lack of leadership within HR departments where bullies are concealed. Workplace intimidation, called workplace bullying, happens when a superior, coworker or direct report uses physical violence or threats, blackmail, or verbal abuse to manipulate a company employee for personal or professional gain. In an era of social media, it is easy to blur the lines between professional interaction and personal engagement. When bullying happens behind closed doors, perpetrators discredit and delegitimize their targets by convincing investigators that the truth cannot be ascertained. When the bully is an Executive or the "favorite" of the CEO either through personal relationships or others, that person is believed unequivocally. The most covert tactic is to deploy others to do the dirty work against the target, making it difficult to pin responsibility on the architect of the attacks. This is bullying at its most subtle. With covert bullying, the victim frequently is left doubting their worth or knowledge of their job function. Overt bullies like to be center stage. This personality type believes they are invincible. They elect to put on a show and make the victim one of their characters. They seek to control the emotional climate by instilling fear in the target and all witnesses. Simply put, witnesses are brought off. The term everyone has a price comes to mind. Squealers then become the next target. The cycle is vicious and leads to high employee turnover if left unchecked. It takes someone of the highest moral fortitude to call out toxicity, including bullying. It takes a leader like you to know the signs.

What are the tell-tale signs of a toxic work environment? Five tell-tale signs of a toxic work environment include (1) non-inclusivity, (2) incivility, (3) unethical behavior, and (4) bullying, (5) cutthroat competition. As a leader, if you identify even one of the five tell-tale signs, you must immediately address the problem within your organization

. So, what can be done to stomp out toxic workplace behavior, including bullying? Consultant Profieiciency Resources recommends the following:

  • Walk the walk and talk. Do not be the Bully in Charge. A leader is unable to see clearly if you are the harasser. If bullying comes easily, seek help.

  • Convey your thoughts to your Executive team that toxic behavior will not be tolerated within the work environment.

  • Keep your ear to the ground. Listen to employee concerns both formally and informally.

  • Address concerns and all forms of aggression. Respectfully attend to employee concerns about incivility and disrespectful verbal aggression whenever it occurs. ...

  • Arrange, support, and attend training.

  • Allow your policy on a healthy work environment to reflect what goes on in the workplace.

Suffice it to say; silence gives consent. If you do not speak up, you are part of the problem, and it is only a matter of time before you become the new target. So, stand up when it matters by simply joining CPR LLC every Non-Toxic Tuesday and hashtag #stompoingouttoxicworkplaceculture, and if you do see something, don't be silent; SPEAK UP!

Warm Regards,


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