Pick on a way to beat the bullies 2

September 23, 2005

As a sector we must take action to create work environments in which bullying is seen to be unacceptable. But your presentation of the problem is one-dimensional. There is a fine line between bullying and managing underperformance: how often does action taken to address a person's failure to adequately carry out his/her duties result in a claim of harassment?

Human resources (my own profession) perhaps deserves a share of the criticism for mishandling cases, but here too your articles give a one-sided account. If a complaint of bullying is made, there should be an investigation and the alleged bully should be given the opportunity to rebut the allegation. It would be bullying of a different sort if employers condemned the "perpetrators" without giving them the right to reply.

Some of those who protest of harassment are reluctant to have their complaints subjected to these procedures but, without them, employers'

hands are tied and bullying goes unchallenged.

An alternative approach that has had some success is that of mediation, where the two parties seek to resolve their differences in a supervised setting, without the pressure of grievance procedures.

Adrian Buckley
Assistant director of personnel
Birmingham University

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