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Freely or Bully?

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Work place culture is the most sought and considered factor when joining a corporation. Personally, I’ve experienced my office peers advising me during my farewell saying that “we choose not the job but the boss”. Pondering over that fact it made me realise it is very true. Many underlined reasons could be put forth to justify as to why we choose a boss instead of a job. To all the vivid readers who have ample experience in the corporate jungle this phenomenon may not sound anew and appealing yet sharing a bit of insight and research on this seemed interesting.

During our school days and undergraduate years when we learned different types of leadership traits under business studies module, there were four main; Autocratic, Paternalistic, Democratic and Laissez Faire leadership styles. Out of all we loved democratic and laissez-faire styles for their easy-going nature. After being in the corporate world for awhile we realised its these styles that we see in the seniors to whom we worked for. Commitment and loyalty grew in places when we worked under democratic style leading senior. The space allowed to exercise our own abilities and traits and apply accordingly to the relevant task gives and outpouring freedom and dignity than being pressurised and stressed out by working for orders of another who declare him/herself superior.

Workplace bullying is one of the leading and major root cause of employee turnover, dissatisfaction and stress. As defined by Workplace Bullying Institute it is the health-harming mistreatment of fellow employees which includes abusive conduct such as threatening, humiliation, intimidation, work interference and verbal abuse. Bullying may occur due to various reasons such as gender, education, age, race and marital status. Keeping the reason aside it is evidently proved that bullying causes major mental issues such as depression and anxiety disorders amongst the victims affecting them for the rest of their careers and lifetime. According to available findings, 49% of American employees are either a direct victim or a witness of workplace bullying. Keeping the US aside, our very own country Sri Lanka is seeing an increase in workplace bullying especially related to sexual harassment for women which is a major form of workplace bullying (Perera and Abeysinghe, 2017)

One of the most common misinterpretations involves identifying bullying as a leadership style. However, autocratic leadership style displayed in a dictatorial workplace culture eventually portray a boss as a bully. The dictatorial workplace relies on power and control (Mental Health America, 2018). Simultaneously authoritarian leadership style is characterized where an individual control over all decisions gaining minimum input from the subordinates, work methods and processes are dictated by group leaders under this process which confine them to a highly structured and rigid work schedule (Cherry, 2018).

According to An and Kang (2016) study, a hierarchy-oriented organizational culture displayed greater workplace bullying when compared to a relation-oriented culture. In some cultures, bullying and aggression may be an effective way of achieving goals (Pilch and Turska, 2018). Salin (2018) states that contents of bullying consist of a number of different negative behaviours such as social isolation or silent treatment, rumours, attacking the victim’s private life or attitudes, excessive criticism or monitoring or work, withholding information or depriving responsibility and verbal aggression.

A sound knowledge on the precautions that could be taken in the event of workplace bullying allows employees to maintain a good relationship with the work environment. Whether you are an observer or victim firstly in the event of bullying acknowledge that there is a problem so that the co-workers understand the concern. In the meantime, to support your evidence against the bully document his/her behaviour. Prioritising your wellbeing and to avoid mistreatments from the bully focus on healing and support for yourself. Gradually strategize as to how you would settle the above case and finally take action. By taking action, you are advised to directly address the bully and make him/her understand of the wrong doings, if failed approach your relevant superior with the complaint. Workplace treatment thereafter is not guaranteed to be satisfying thus in whatever the action you decide to take always be determined to carry the risk and face whatever may come in your way. Worst case scenario if your employer is not taking any action against the mistreatment, prioritise yourself and take action to use legal rights against the bully and company and leave the organisation.

On the contrary democratic leader who delegates authority, encourages participation and empowers employees is the highly preferred amongst many subordinates, as such leadership allows them to exercise their brains feely in bringing out novelty and creativity to the work they perform contributing to the overall performance of the organisation equally. According to Kurt Lewin’s Action Research Model democratic style is the most effective leadership style, though it does not contribute much in work productivity, quality wise it generates greater results (Leadership-Central.com, 2018).

A conclusion stating that democratic leadership style is the best cannot be drawn as at certain circumstances when an organisation as a whole needs to work towards common goal if subordinates are working at their comfortable pace an authoritarian trait has to be exercised in order to reach the given targets, thus it is always recommended to have a stable culture in any organisation which provides clear goals, rules, and values for employees and where communication is open and clear, and conflicts are dealt effectively. Everyone understands the role they play in the company and works together to ensure success for all, not just certain individuals. In order to avoid getting bullied it is advisable to portray your confidence and purpose at the initial stages of the placement in an organisation. Worldwide renowned gas and oil industry player Chevron being listed as an organisation with a fantastic culture in the Entrepreneur online magazine is due to the programme ‘the Chevron way’, which is dedicated to safety, supporting employees and team members looking out for each other. It makes the employees feel they are valued and their contribution is appreciated (Patel, 2018). Such a culture creates a welcoming and friendly workplace for its employees minimising the need and room for bullying.

References

Perera, S. and Abeysinghe, S. (2017). Combatting Workplace Sexual Harassment of Female Employees in Sri Lanka: An Empirical A nalysis. Proceedings of APIIT Business , Law & Technology Conference, 201 7. [online] Available at: http://conference.apiit.lk/pdf2/Law/LBAT201711.pdf [Accessed 2 May 2018].

Mental Health America. (2018). Workplace Culture & Bullying. [online] Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/workplace-culture-bullying [Accessed 2 May 2018].

Cherry, K. (2018). What Are the Pros and Cons of Autocratic Leadership?. [online] Verywell Mind. Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-autocratic-leadership-2795314 [Accessed 2 May 2018].

Leadership-Central.com. (2018). Democratic Leadership Style – Also referred to as Participative Leadership Style. [online] Available at: http://www.leadership-central.com/democratic-leadership-style.html [Accessed 2 May 2018].

An, Y. and Kang, J. (2016). Relationship between Organizational Culture and Workplace Bullying among Korean Nurses. Asian Nursing Research, 10(3), pp.234-239.

Pilch, I. and Turska, E. (2018). Relationships between Machiavellianism, organizational culture and workplace bullying: emotional abuse from the target’s and the perpetrator’s perspective. journal of Business Ethics. [online] Available at:  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260144422_Relationships_Between_Machiavellianism_Organizational_Culture_and_Workplace_Bullying_Emotional_Abuse_from_the_Target’s_and_the_Perpetrator’s_Perspective [Accessed 2 May 2018].

Salin, D. (2018). Ways of Explaining Workplace Bullying: A Review of Enabling, Motivating, and Precipitating Structures and Processes in the Work Environment. [ebook] Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration. Available at: https://helda.helsinki.fi/bitstream/handle/10227/283/salin_HR_2003.pdf [Accessed 2 May 2018].

Patel, S. (2018). 10 Examples of Companies With Fantastic Cultures. [online] Entrepreneur. Available at: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/249174 [Accessed 2 May 2018].

Bhagya Senanayake

Bhagya is a contributor at Nerdynaut.

Freely or Bully?
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