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The Truth about Bullying in Project Management

Bullying is unfortunately as much a reality in business as it is in school, and it can take some insidious forms you may not have considered. In a guest post at A Girl’s Guide to Project Management, Paul Pelletier explains the damage workplace bullying is really doing to business, and what can be done to stop it.

Zero Tolerance

Before getting into his core argument, Pelletier reminds us that those who see bullying occurring and turn a blind eye to it are just as guilty as the bully is in letting these damaging attitudes persist. He points to the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, which states, “We report any illegal or unethical conduct,” as proof that project managers are literally obligated to speak up about bullying. Pelletier personally defines workplace bullying like this:

It is a laser-focused, systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction. It has nothing to do with work itself. It is driven by the bully’s personal agenda and actually prevents work from getting done and after all, that is precisely what project managers are responsible for doing – getting project work done through the efforts of others.

He classifies bullying into three categories of aggressive communication, manipulation of work, and outright humiliation. In all cases, bullying impedes the flow of information and prevents people, physically and emotionally, from doing their best work. Pelletier says that Australia has reported losses in the billions as a result of workplace bullying, while damages in the US could equate to over $200 billion.

He goes on to list some steps to consider when dealing with a bullying situation, particularly when the bully does not fall under your jurisdiction. First, observe the people around you who have influence and how they use it. You also want to investigate what your company’s policies are regarding behavior and complaint-filing. Think about everything you know about the situation and decide which information could be packaged to present the most effective complaint. Document every situation where bad behavior occurs, and see if others are willing to join forces with you. Before you definitely take the plunge into filing a complaint though, be pragmatic and only proceed if you are fairly sure you will not be risking your job.

Ultimately, bullies have to go in whatever form they appear. For more details, you can read the original post here:

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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