When it comes to a workplace bully or mob, the last place someone being targeted should go is to the human resources or HR department.
While there are some that believe that HR is there to protect the rights of workers, they in fact exist to protect the company.
Paradoxically, the workers that are targeted are often the best and the brightest the company has. Their attackers seek to destroy them to prevent their high standards of work and behavior from being made company policy if they are ever promoted.
It has been shown repeatedly that HR will often side with bullies because they are well entrenched, and may be the product of a manager. A meeting of the parties involved is called, and once again the target is at a disavantage. They often are alone, with HR citing rules and procedures, while the bully uses their skill at manipulation and fabrication to paint the victim as the aggressor.
Even if the target remains calm and repeatedly cites documentation of the bully's or mobs action, tactics such as bursting into tears may be employed, followed by angry countercharges. Please also see bullyonline.org for more on this.
Thus HR is cowed into acceding to the bullies demands. The target will leave the meeting with the uneasy feeling that the worst is yet to come, and often it does.
Thus the paradox: HR gives in to bullies or mobs in an effort to protect the company by maintaining the status quo. However, this means that the hard-working, fair-playing target is eventually eliminated, robbing the company of the valuable human resources that HR by definition is supposed to protect.
NEXT TIME: Some anti-bullying workplace policy recommendations.
bookwoman (09/11/2009) What a timely post for me. For the first time since I was much, much younger, I am currently on the receiving end of some bullying in the work place. My husband urged me to go to HR and I steadfastly refused. As an eternally (stupidly) optimistic person, I think people will behave well, but I'm not THAT stupid any more.
My manager considered me his most valuable asset and went above and beyond in supporting me. Unfortunately he too sees the whole company for what it really is (a cluster...) and he resigned last week. This week, without him as a buffer, has been horrendous for me. I avoid drama at all costs but found myself sitting at my desk yesterday, shaking and crying (I have an extremely private work space). I cannot wait to move on and am not only actively looking for my next job, but am looking vigorously. My current company's culture condones and at times even promotes the bullying behaviour that goes on and I am not foolish enough to think I can influence or change the status quo.
Thanks for the excellent reminder of the value of HR departments in these scenarios.
anonymous (09/12/2009) bookwoman;
sad to see that your job turned into such a nightmare. you had high hopes at the start. is it possibly to contact your former manager for another job or a good recommendation?
unfortunately when a good manager leaves its open season on his support staff. hoping that you can move on or at least transfer into another department.
HaveADamnNiceDay (09/13/2009) Hang in there, bookwoman! Better things are coming! Just remember they're all idiots!!!!
bookwoman (09/13/2009) Anonymous, I actually have kept in contact with people from my former job. Several of them responded to my recent updates by asking if I would come back. That gave me a wonderful little inner glow and helps strengthen me now, but as we moved away from that area it's not an option to go back. Although I do daydream about going back to that area and renting a room! I can get plenty of references from the last job, and from my current ex-manager as well. There just aren't as many job opportunities in the area where we now live.
The company where I work is not mananged from the top down in a way that would make me want to seek another position in another department and stay with them.
I've been spending time looking up some of the bullying websites on line and reading up on this. I've found plenty of stories about people's experiences and quite a few of their long, drawn-out battles, but not any successful stories. I've been trying to center myself and keep an old maxim close at heart - "remember to mind yourself, body mind and soul," and not engage with this current bully. Remember the character Data from "Star Trek Next Generation"? He was an android and always wanted to experience emotions. I try to channel that character and leave my emotions at home, but it is not always easy, since last time I checked, I'm human.
I just don't get people who get off on acting maliciously as a way of life.
HADND, they ARE idiots. It's such a shame that idiots so often rule the world. They waste so much valuable time and energy.
I Give Up (09/23/2009) HR is "cowed into acceding the bullies demands?" Seriously?
It seems to me that "bullying" has become part of the corporate culture and is a part of management training. Let's face it, HR is in on the whole deal.
See, I'm one of those targets. The bull's eye was placed on my back when my working relationship with a co-worker went south--I caught him doing something that was against corporate policy and could lead to termination. (I knew this was a terminable offense because we just completed our MANDATORY ANNUAL CORPORATE INTEGRITY TRAINING that featured a similar scenario).
I'll spare you the convoluted details and flash forward a year to today. We are both still working for the same company, my life is miserable. I got a crick in my neck from watching my back all the time. My shoulder is out of joint from pulling out all of those knives. I spend a lot of time with a therapist and I take a few more prescribed drugs now.
I was talking to our manager about this the other day and he said, sometimes you just have to turn your head and look the other way. Maybe that's what you should have done.