Workplace bullying harms employee health and reduces productivity. Unfortunately, many supervisors misidentify bullying as personality conflict, disrespect, incivility, personality style, jealousy, insecurity, or one employee having a bad day.
It is natural to minimize the significance of a problem if it otherwise implies we may be called upon to use significant effort to address it. The more benign explanation usually wins out. This is also true with sexual harassment, which is not trivial or inconsequential.
Investigate bullying as a possibility when you learn of employee conflict, particularly if you see a power disparity. One employee may have more tenure, clout, seniority, or recognition as the expert, or be considered by customers and peers as the “go-to person.” These dynamics make it difficult for victims to defend themselves because of their subordinate position, inexperience, lack of clout, or hesitation to be assertive.
Source: UTEAP FrontLine Supervisor (February 2015)