How being a bully can harm your career

To mark the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence, we're looking at the impacts of bullying in the workplace and what you can do about it

The ninth National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence (NDA) is tomorrow, and we’re passionate about stomping out bullying at school and in the workplace. 

In this 2 part series, first we’ll take a look at what you need to know if you have bullying tendancies, and how that negative behaviour can impact on your career. Tomorrow, we’ll look at what to do if you are the victim of bullying, and the various resources that exist to help you. 


Are you a bully?


No one likes to think about it, and we certainly don’t want to admit it, but we all know that bullies exist (and chances are if you’re not one, then you know someone who is).

Workplace bullying looks a bit different to school bullying, but the underlying principals are the same – one person or group of people go out of their way to intimidate, embarrass and harass another person, or group of people.

It can be cruel words, physical intimidation, online abuse, or it could be as simple as cutting people out from important meetings, taking credit for their work, making it difficult to do tasks, or intentionally disrupting them. And because workplaces are based on organisational (or ‘power’) structures, the office bully can also be the person in charge.


Did you know being a bully could harm your career prospects?



Of course, the number one reason why you should stop any bullying behaviours is because they can cause irreparable damage to people. Full stop. It’s a harmful thing that says far more about the bully than it does about the victim.

And just in case that’s not enough (and it is) to make you stop any bullying behaviours you may exhibit, here’s how bullying can make your career prospects disappear, almost like magic:


Bullying can be easily identified in the workplace

Once upon a time people looked the other way, but the rising awareness of workplace bullying (and its negative impacts on a business) are leading to less tolerance of bullying.

Managers are trained to look out for bullying and given disciplinary tools to stop bullying when it occurs. Moreover, employers are aware of their ability to report any workplace bullying, and any accusations are more likely to be taken seriously than in the past.


Any disciplinary action will follow you around from employer to employer

Ever tried to get a job without giving a reference? It’s not easy. Employers want to hear about you from other people, particularly old employers or supervisors, and getting around that roadblock can be tricky.

Think you can just leave out a job you’ve left on bad terms? That could raise more questions, and in a job market where employers can afford to be picky you need to avoid anything that could hold you back.


Teamwork is a vital skill in the workplace of the future

And bullying shows you have poor teamwork skills.

More and more we’re seeing employers focusing on ‘soft skills’ like communication, adaptability and teamwork, rather than your grades. Your ability to work well with others is often impaired by bullying behaviours, and teams that are not harmonious are quickly picked up by managers because they deliver less productivity and more dissatisfaction amongst employees. Which leads me into…


You’ll cause problems for employers

Workplaces with rampant bullying are ineffective and divisive, plus they have higher turnovers of staff, and more staff absences.

Trust me when I say that your boss is not your teacher, and will be even less impressed when they have to discipline you than your teachers were.


You’ll lose your job

Victims of bullying are protected by workplace law. If you are being a bully at work, and you don’t stop when ordered to do so, you could face losing your job.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the supervisor or the new trainee, these laws apply to all employees.



You should also know…

Why are we writing an article aimed at helping bullies? Because stopping the problem starts at the source. It’s not good enough to just tell people how to help defend themselves against bullying, because with bullying, there are no winners.

If any of these behaviours are ringing true with you, if you feel like there have been times when you could have done things differently or acted better, then NOW is the time to change the way you behave.

Your career will thank you for it later.

Need help to stop?

Try this article for some practical tips, and read this Guide for parents from the Australian Government.


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