Managers have to deal with the problem -- a bully left unchallenged is a nightmare. But a bully challenged the wrong way can spew a toxic ash cloud all over your office.
I like the process outlined by leadership coach Cheryl Dolan on her BBR.org blog. Here are some of her tips.
- Confront the bully immediately -- even in mid-meeting. Productivity is not possible when a belligerent SOB is smoking up the room.
- Appeal to the bully's self-interest. In Dolan's example, a bully is told by a supervisor that his rantings are causing personal embarrassment and affecting corporate results.
- Confront the bully publicly and privately. Why publicly? Dolan says "bullies hate public humiliation."
Dolan's overall point is right on. Most managers, according to statistics she cites, do not challenge bullies, and even punish employees that do. Don't let this happen in your business. Deal with the problem aggressively and directly.
The BNET archives is full of great advice on handling bullies.
Have you slapped down a bully at work? What was your experience?