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The Energizer Blog

  • Writer's pictureEileen McDargh

Bullies Belong in Bull Pens—not Cubicles

It's not my imagination: we've become far too accepting of jerks at work. Bullying behavior is on the rise and it's not just on playground—but in work places. Look around. Have you noticed some certifiable jerks? These are folks who constantly demean, ridicule, put down, or purposely ignore those with less "power" than they have. And it's tolerated. One health care organization told me of a physician who regularly, verbally assaults nurses and interns. A vice president in a development company uses the silent treatment as a way of telling an employee that she's a non-entity, even going so far as to threaten staff if they speak to this employee! A law firm keeps a rain maker despite the fact he eats colleagues and administrative assistants for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We've made heroes of other jerks—even tolerating jerk-like behavior in some folks who represent the United States. Sadly, behavior ignored is behavior endorsed. Complacency equals complicity. The organization and its leaders develop a reputation for arrogance and insensitivity. It makes little sense. Getting and keeping good talent is one of the top two worries of CEOs. Who wants to work with jerks? Research also indicates that performance and productivity actually increase when jerks are eliminated. Here’s where to start: Create a NO JERK rule and mean it. Confront jerk behavior as soon as it happens. Train everyone how to identify jerk behavior and how to react, respond, and report. Look yourself in the eye and ask for honest feedback. We all carry some of the jerk gene inside of us.

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