By Jeff Shane for Hcareers.com
Bullying: at one time or another, most of us have felt the victim of someone’s unreasonably antagonistic behavior. It’s often viewed as a dynamic between young people, and conventional wisdom says that this type of conduct is left behind in childhood as we exit the schoolyard. Yet, more than a few current – and prospective – employees can attest that bullying behavior is alive and well in the employment marketplace.
In the hospitality workplace, bullying tactics can range from the covert (behind-the-back sniping) to the blatant (public humiliation or physical abuse), but they are unquestionably harmful in all forms, often with alarming consequences. Victims of bullying report decreased workplace productivity, loss of confidence, debilitating anxiety, panic attacks, clinical depression and even physical illnesses as a result of being bullied. A common denominator is that victims feel traumatized and helpless in the face of persecution in the workplace. They’re also worried that the negative feedback they are receiving in their current job will adversely affect their ability to secure future employment in a more positive environment, e.g. as the result of a bullying supervisor offering negative references about them to a future prospective employer.
At the crux of the problem: management or supervisors are the most common offenders, and their bullying actions leave the recipient in a precarious employment position. Since many bullies are operating within the realm of “standard practices” in their organizations, victims often speculate that they may deserve the criticisms, or are simply too embarrassed, hesitant or fearful to confront the harasser.
If you are the victim, what can be done to alleviate the problem? Sometimes an honest, calm discussion with the person responsible may effectively address the issue. However, it is possible that such a conversation may result in your concerns being brushed aside or ignored completely. When this is the case, it’s time to consider more assertive action.
Allison & Taylor Reference Checking provides a service whereby you can find out exactly what a former employer is saying about you personally and in regard to your work performance. If a workplace bully is speaking out of turn when responding to an employment inquiry, you can exercise the option of a Cease & Desist letter or pursue more substantive legal action. Such tools will help ensure that the transgressor will stop their actions out of fear of corporate reprisal.
While the dilemma of workplace bullying is often made worse by the feeling that nothing can be done to resolve it, such a sentiment simply is not true. You can – and sometimes must – take proactive steps to improve or protect your employment situation. The career you save will likely be your own.