Susan is a new nurse manager. She was warned about the bullying behavior of some of her nurses and was bound and determined to stop it. Pattie, one her clinical nurses, asked Susan is she could talk to her about a situation. Pattie proceeded to share an incident involving one of the known bullies on the unit. Susan was outraged and asked Pattie to document the incident. However, not only did Pattie refuse to document the incident but she also begged Susan not to even say anything about it.
Then Susan made her biggest mistake.
Susan told Pattie that unless she was willing to document the incident or at least allow Susan to talk to the bully, not to bother telling her about it or come to her with any other co-worker issues.
Why is this a big mistake?
When managers tell employees, “Well, if you’re not going to document or at least allow me to talk to the bully, then don’t come to me with these problems.” They shut the door of communication. Oh, make no mistake about it. The bullying will continue but now you’ve just pushed it underground.
Managers must keep the lines of communication open even if initially, the employee is unwilling to document or do anything about it!
WHY KEEP THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN?
1. You can use the opportunity to coach employees on how to address bullying behavior when it’s happening. The more employees learn how to address the behaviors themselves (name it), the more likely it is that the bullying behaviors will stop.
2. Encourage and support employees who are targets of bullying. Targets of bullying suffer physical, emotional, mental and spiritual damage. They may be reaching out to you for support. Keeping the door open can allow you support them. The #1 reason why someone stays or leaves their job is the relationship they have with their boss. When someone comes to you for help, be there, and show compassion. They need it.
3. Keeps your finger on the pulse of what’s happening on the unit when you’re not there. After all, bullies are good at behaving well when you’re there. If nobody is willing to come to you, then you are less likely to know what’s really happening when you’re not.
Trust me, you want your employees coming to you with behavioral problems on the unit. But not to worry, if you keep the lines of communication open and show your support, in time they will strengthen their moral courage muscles and do their part to stop the cycle of bullying. After all, you can’t do it alone.
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