Managers need to be aware that an abuse of their positional power will send mixed messages about unacceptable behaviour, and will only serve to condone harassment and bullying.
Line managers are also responsible for ensuring that team members perform to an acceptable standard. Because of this, it is important that legitimate concerns or criticisms about an employee’s behaviour or performance are conducted in an appropriate manner, in order to prevent complaints of bullying and harassment being made.
The following is a summary of actions Managers can take to prevent bullying and harassment in the workplace:
- Promote company policies and procedures
- Remind staff of the policies and the support mechanisms, e.g. occupational health, counsellors
- Training can increase individuals’ awareness of what constitutes bullying and harassment and the damage that can be done to individuals and to the organisation as a whole
- Set a good example and an open culture where problems can be openly discussed
- Set standards of behaviour; organisational policies tend to focus on what not to do, so be clear about how you expect people to conduct themselves
- Ensure they are familiar with the disciplinary and grievance procedures
- Be alert to unacceptable behaviour
- Let employees know that bullying/harassment complaints will be dealt with fairly, confidentially and sensitively
- Be responsive and supportive to anyone bringing an alleged incident(s) of bullying or harassment to your attention
- Ensure that everyone understands the penalties when an allegation is proved to be accurate; equally, what the penalties will be if an allegation is found to have been made maliciously
- Be prepared to deal with the aftermath and make difficult decisions if necessary
- Be alert to the potential for victimisation of the complainant or others
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