A debut guide focuses on eradicating on-the-job bullying and building healthier office environments.
“A lifetime of experience with bully types” led Stewart, who has a doctorate in organizational psychology, to write this book. She hopes that she can teach others to “respond professionally and with compassion and a lasting unquestionable forgiveness” to bullying behavior. It arrives at an opportune moment, as more people have come to recognize that aggressive, cruel, and manipulative behavior is a serious problem in many companies. As the author explains, workplace bullies do more than make life miserable for their direct targets. They also harm those who witness the bullying behavior and do serious damage to a company’s culture and reputation. Stewart’s goal isn’t to provide victims with techniques to cope with their difficulties. Rather, she looks at organizational factors that can create a bullying atmosphere, then suggests ways leaders can change that situation and create a healthy work environment. The key is not seeing the individual bully as the source of the predicament, because he or she is “only using skills and talents inappropriately.” In fact, many bullies are inadvertently created by companies because of policies that reward toxic behavior. While the knee-jerk solution to a crisis might be to fire the bully, that won’t actually solve the problem, since new antagonists will likely arise. Instead, the author offers practical, helpful tools leaders can use to assess workplace culture, identify “bully triads” (bully-victim-bystander), and create an office environment focused on wellness. While this is a fresh look at a timely topic, Stewart’s work does have its weak spots. No clear definition of bullying is ever provided (though a few real-life stories are included near the manual’s end), leaving readers on their own to differentiate between bullying behavior and a generally noxious work milieu. And the book, which grew out of the author’s doctoral studies, sometimes reads like an academic paper, potentially making it less accessible and engaging to the readers who would most benefit from her worthwhile insights.
A valuable look at the insidious way bullying cultures can thrive at work, and how they can be eliminated.