Direct instruction on the various aspects of confronting workplace bullying is essential as well as orientation on available support systems, processes, and consequences. However, anything shared theoretically, such as workplace bullying training, must also be seen to actually work in real life. Observation of how things translate from theory to execution is vital to establish trust and confidence. Unless there is direct evidence that an organisation is fully committed at all levels to eradicating workplace bullying, no one will feel empowered to tackle it in all its insidious shapes and forms.

Often people joke in the workplace that the grapevine works much better than the official organisational communication systems. Employees rely on both formal and informal networks to determine whether top, senior, and middle management are really walking the talk of organisational ethics, principles, and values. Even when matters are confidential, we can have no doubt that informal systems will deliver the message as to whether there was indeed alignment with organisational standards on bullying and harassment.

Extending training

Beyond this, the most compelling reference is whether everyone can see that pivotal management players also model the essence of what it takes to eliminate abusive, oppressive, coercive, intimidator, and harmful actions, especially by others in power. There is in fact nothing more damaging in terms of employee empowerment than the custodians of organisational values saying one thing and then doing another. Consistency is key to growing people’s belief that they are going to be justly protected.

In addition, when people have undergone anti-harassment training online, if they see modelled behaviour the learning is solidified. Behaviour that models what the organisation espouses can teach new behaviour, influence effectively what becomes the norm, and influence the occurrence of more constructive forms of interaction. The more positive behavioural models we have in the workplace, the more we reduce the space for bullying and harassment which quickly become a poor fit with the overall culture and climate. They become easy to identify for what they are because they are so at odds with the prevailing way of doing things. The risk to potential perpetrators becomes automatically pronounced. 

When we model behaviour, we grab people’s attention. Workplace bullying training would have planted many seeds on expectations, requirements, and responses. It, therefore, becomes easy for participants to spot what is acceptable and what is not. More importantly, they will look out for the degree of decisiveness and strength of response from management and support functions in dealing with bullying and harassment.

Entrenching training

If they are quick to show up in the right manner with the right amount of rigour and clarity, this will be welcomed and respected. Employees will retain this information and are also likely to replicate what they see, including the propensity to be courageous in the face of challenges. They are also more likely to seek out the help of those that model behaviour they believe to be right.

Any modelled behaviour that is consistently reproduced will motivate others especially if outcomes are seen to be positive and fair. Workplace bullying training will teach us to be passionate about confronting abuse and harassment in all its myriad shapes and forms.  When management demonstrates that they are equally fervent in this regard, this will elevate the extent to which people onboard learning such that it permeates throughout all aspects of organisational interaction.

Being anti-harassment and bullying is a quality that demands an authentic response which cannot be half-hearted. In many senses to be successful at empowering employees, managers must be crystal clear that they are totally intolerant of abuse. One needs to separate out drawing a line in the sand on what is unacceptable behaviour and any organisational commitment to remedial action and rehabilitation if appropriate.

Perhaps it is worth noting when considering the impact of observation and modelling that Albert Einstein said “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means”.

Categories: Business

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 12 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. All my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. You can contact me on our forum or by email at [email protected].