Are you being bullied?

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When we think about bullying we usually think of peer-to-peer conflicts or top-down abuse. However, a less discussed issue is when managers find themselves the targets of bullying by their staff. It is not uncommon and can be particularly challenging. It undermines your leadership, erodes workplace morale, and reduces productivity. If you’re a manager experiencing this form of bullying, addressing it promptly and effectively is crucial.

Acknowledge the issue

The first step in tackling bullying is to recognise and validate your own experience. Bullying can manifest in subtle ways, such as persistent disrespect, passive-aggressive comments, or outright insubordination. These behaviours, though often insidious, can significantly impact your ability to lead effectively. It’s essential to understand that experiencing bullying does not reflect a weakness in your leadership but rather a challenge that needs addressing.

Foster a positive culture

Preventing bullying in the workplace requires a proactive approach. Foster a culture of open communication, mutual respect, and support. Encourage team members to speak up if they witness or experience bullying, and ensure they know the appropriate channels for reporting such behaviour. Regular training on workplace ethics and respect can also help build a more inclusive and supportive environment.

Document everything

Once you identify bullying behaviour, documentation becomes your strongest ally. Keep a detailed record of incidents, noting dates, times, the nature of each occurrence, and whether any witnesses were present. This documentation serves as evidence, providing a clear, objective account of the behaviours you’ve experienced. It will be invaluable if the situation escalates to the point where formal action is necessary.

Address the issue

Bullying doesn’t go away by itself. Addressing the issue head-on is the most effective approach as individuals are often unaware of the effects of their behaviour and may be open to change once the impact is clearly communicated. The aim of the process is to establish boundaries and reinforce the company’s policies on respect and workplace behaviour. It needs to make it clear that bullying is unacceptable, regardless of who it is directed towards. This helps maintain a professional environment where everyone understands the expectations for conduct, and emphasises the importance of mutual respect and the impact of positive workplace interactions on team performance and morale.

Depending on the severity of the issue and how widespread it is, we will help you to decide what approach to take. It could be something as simple as a memo that reminds the team of their obligations, right through to an investigation with termination as a possible outcome.


Addressing bullying as a manager protects your wellbeing and also maintains a healthy and productive work environment for everyone. By recognising the issue, documenting incidents, communicating openly, seeking support, and establishing firm boundaries, you can navigate this challenge effectively. Remember, strong leadership is about guiding your team and protecting the integrity of your role and the work environment.

We can help

At FixHR, we understand the unique challenges faced by small business owners. Our tailored HR solutions are designed to help you implement these strategies effectively, ensuring your business thrives. Lead your business with confidence – let us help you get there.

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