WORKERS AT WAR
The article Workers at War in the Weekend Australian November 26 – 27 made me simultaneously sad and mad. Sad at the personal angst and suffering that bullying causes, and mad that the solution being considered seems to be even more workplace legislation with its associated frustrations and costs.
In my experience the fundamental reason that bullying exists in the workplace (and elsewhere) is the abject, utter failure of leadership on the part of many managers and supervisors who focus on the implementation of policies, procedures, processes and systems, and either do not understand or neglect their leadership responsibilities.
Management practice is mainly concerned with control of the inanimate while leadership is about creating the environment in which people work freely and willingly together to achieve common goals. Leaders must work with and through others, and this demands that they gain the respect and trust of their team members and encourage honesty and open communication within their working environment. Respect and trust must be earned and it starts with the leader. In addition to their capabilities, leaders must get to know the interests, needs and concerns of their team members. How can people respect and trust each other if they don’t know each other?
Impersonal management and supervision of people with resort to ‘black letter law’ to deal with workplace issues such as bullying is analogous to treating the patient after the disease has taken hold. A far better approach is to prevent the illness in the first place through the practice of enlightened fair, firm and friendly leadership at all levels.
Peter McDougall, AM
MD The Leadership Academy