Headlines: September 21st, 2005

A survey by the Chartered Management Institute found that bullying is higher in the public sector than elsewhere and six out of ten managers questioned believe that it is on the increase. The survey, which questioned executives in public and private sector organisations, revealed that many senior managers are victims of bullying and identified psychological intimidation as the biggest problem.The research also shows an alarming lack of awareness about dealing with workplace bullies. Managers are observing incidents of bullying between peers, by external customers or clients and one-third have reported bullying of managers by junior staff, dispelling the myth that it only occurs in formal hierarchical relationships. Women appear to be more frequent victims of bullying than men with over half, 54 per cent compared to 35 per cent, having suffered from bullying in the past three years.

The research found that the most common forms of bullying are misuse of power or position in 78 per cent of cases, with verbal insults 71 per cent, and exclusion 57 per cent. Physical intimidation or violence are the least common forms, with less than one fifth having been bullied in this way.

A lack of management skills is cited as the top reason, 66 per cent, for bullying in the workplace. Other factors included personality of colleagues/managers, 61 per cent, and authoritarian management style, 57 per cent.

Mary Chapman, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute comments: “This suggests that poor management is at the root of the problem since senior staff lack the skills to prevent incidents of bullying from occurring. Organisations must create an open, empowering culture and develop the skills of those who enter management positions to ensure that the potential for bullying is minimised and that a positive, productive working environment develops.”