Workplace Bullying. No Way!

Friday March 21, 2014 is National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence

A day which provides a focus for schools to say Bullying. No Way!

An awesome initiative. But as night follows day schoolyard bullies graduate to the workplaces.

What is being done in the workplace?  Nothing. Why?  Because it is far easier to reason with kids “not to be mean to each other” than to make psychopaths who have embedded themselves, and their mates, in a workplace, see  the error of their ways.

I wrote a piece on this blog (see below) last November on workplace bullying. It coincided with my resignation from Canberra Commercial radio station 2CC, (after almost 11 years), due to being unable to bring an end to a damaging culture of workplace bullying. I have paid a significant financial penalty. I remain unemployed but I have no regrets.

Sadly, from what I hear, absolutely nothing has changed. Those who were bullied (some further bullied) have either moved on or have been silenced by the threat (further bullying) of “burning career bridges”.  Not even the statutory body authorized to investigate and act on this destructive activity, has done anything. NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

From November 2013

I’VE been bullied …but only once.  An overweight redhead, that perennial schoolyard victim, chose to pass some of his hurt down the line to a smaller kid, me. I punched him in the face, got strapped and was never bullied again.

But you can’t punch the bully in the face anymore. So what to do?

The more I know of this damaging human trait, the less encouraged I am of a solution.

The Sydney “Telegraph” recently featured the tale of a 40-year-old man who’d been bullied at school.  He gave horrendous examples of the abuse he copped in the yards of several schools he was forced to attend.

The ensuing years proved to be problematic, with relationship breakdowns and an inability to hold down regular employment.

There was a positive outcome though, several of his peers, including his own brother, read the article and were shocked to learn of his suffering. Furthermore, several of them apologised. They were unaware of the suffering they’d inflicted.

Over my 11 years on the 2CC Drive Show, I have become educated on the long-term and permanent damage done by bullying, including workplace bullying and it seems to me that we don’t mature much once  out of the schoolyard.

I assured scores of victims of workplace bullying (largely within the ACT Public Service) that I could protect them should they choose to “go to air”. But, to my shame, I simply couldn’t.. Whistle-blowers are often bullied again for speaking out.

The standard management approach of “is that really bullying?” or ”is he/she just too sensitive?” is wearing thin. And don’t forget the old fall-back: “Better watch your step, lest you wreck your career”.

If you’re in the foetal position at  3am terrified at the prospect of going back into the battle zone… more than likely, it’s bullying.

If your day brightens up 100 per cent the moment you arrive and discover Bullyboty is off for the day…. more than likely, there’s a bullying problem.

I also urged those who contacted me to get together in numbers. But safety and power in numbers is not always a guarantee. The strategy is to worm out the ring leaders of the “revolt” and put pressure on them. A group of six becomes two, split the two and you may just have “made this thing go away”.

One listener, a big, strong man of 6’3” told me he was fearful of returning to work in the yard where he’d been bullied.

A woman told me that while she won her case, she would not recommend going down that road, it’s far too painful.

Another woman, who had the guts to make a written complaint, told me that by coffee time, the entire office – including the bully knew. The bullying then intensified.

The ACT Government was lauded on the introduction of a whistle-blowing policy which loosely allowed a public servant to go outside (to media) with their bullying and allied issues, if they were dissatisfied with the “usual procedure”. Going beyond the “usual procedure” usually means their card is marked.

This “innovative” workplace bullying whistle-blower policy failed a public servant with whom I’d been speaking. After returning from six weeks off air, I texted her to reconnect. She told me it was “too late”, she was “on the roof”, which I took for a euphemism for getting to the end of her rope.

But she was, in fact, on the roof and ready to jump. She came down and was admitted to psychiatric ward. Three days later, as I visited her she took a call from her superior wanting to know why she’d missed work!

a letter from five staff of an ACT Department confirmed what I was saying was one hundred per cent correct. One quote – “So much suffering -so much stress. We wait for suicides, because that is what will happen” – was frightening.  All the while colleagues at the radio station were being bullied.

In a fit of frustration I tweeted some words including “suicide” to shame the ACT Government. Chief Minister Katy Gallagher tweeted “it wasn’t the forum for such a serious issue”.

What then my Chief Minister is the forum? Or do we wait until after the suicides to formulate another policy.

2 thoughts on “Workplace Bullying. No Way!

  1. I just wish to say that Mike is right ! I was the person on the roof and I was detached, calm and going to jump. The bullying had gone on for 2 years I was too depressed and I saw no other way out.
    I had brought my case to the attention of many people in senior positions in the ACT and provided proof of not only my situation but that of others.

    I was generally shunned and avoided.

    It is very true that ” all it takes for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing ”



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