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Workplace Bullying As A Performance Issue

In the days where management by objectives (MBO) emerged as a rational way to manage performance, one of the critical parts of the system involved both defining and evaluating the RESULTS an employee produced, preferably in a measurable way. The logic was compelling, at least at that time. If you added up the results or value created by each employee in pursuit or organizational goals, then if each employee created positive outcomes (e.g. sales), then the sum would be success for the company. In other words, HOW employees created those results was unimportant -- what counted was the measurable results.

We know better now. In fact the performance of one employee isn't independent of the performance of others, so it's possible for an employee to reach his or her objectives in ways that interfere with the ability of other employees to achieve their goals. Overall company performance isn't just a sum of outputs, so it's necessary to look at both results, and HOW those results were obtained. So what's that have to do with workplace bullying?

Bullying As A Performance Barrier

It's easy to conclude that bullying affects only the target in an adverse way. We usually think of bullying as something one person does to one other, and that's true as far as it goes. However the impact on performance isn't limited to the target. It's a little like a shotgun blast. While the focus may be on one target, the dispersal of the damage is much wider. That makes taking anti-bullying actions important not only because it's the right thing, but that it also affects many many more people in the organization, than just the target.

It pushes bullying, however we define it, as a performance issue, and one that can fall into the performance management paradigm, provided we recognize the importance of looking not just at measurable outputs and results, but the collatateral damage for other employees even if they are not directly involved in the one on one bullying.

Bullying Also Much More Complex Than At First Glance

Bullying at work is a far more complex social event than one would think. It's very easy to be anti-bullying without having an understanding of what it is, and what drives it sufficient to address it effectively in the workplace. In this section we'll be looking at some of those complexities, with the goal of creating a better understanding of workplace bullying so we can reduce it.

The Vague Meaing Of Workplace Bullying Can Be A Problem

Defining Bullying In Objective Ways Almost Impossible Because Context Is Everything

Sexual Harrassment Policies Good Model For Addressing Workplace Bullying (coming soon)

Should HR Focus On Anti-Bullying, or On Pro Civil Workplace Policies?



About Company

Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992 by consultant and book author, Robert Bacal. Robert's books on performance management and reviews have been published by McGraw-Hill. He is available for consultation, training and keynote speaking on performance and management at work.


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  • Performance management and appraisal MUST be a partnership between manager and employee where BOTH benefit.
  • Performance management can be the lever for improved employee engagement.
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  • If managers aren't managing employee performance, why are they there?

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