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Toxic Cultures, Workplace Bullies and Dreaded Mondays

Toxic Cultures, Workplace Bullies and Dreaded Mondays

Your chest is pounding. Anxious feelings resurface as painful office altercations replay in your mind causing a sick feeling in your stomach. Your shoulders and neck begin to tighten and ache. Your mind ruminates over last week’s noxious encounter with a bully manager and his evil recruits. Although Sunday is supposed to be a restful day to invigorate your mental and physical wellbeing, you find yourself mentally clocked-in at the office, clocked-out at home, and woefully dreading the next day to begin. Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, this is a common Sunday afternoon mental exercise American workers relive at the beginning of many work weeks. Sadly, the recurrence of fear and trepidation on Sunday is well-founded. Researchers discovered a few years ago the deadliest time of the week is Monday morning as workers return to their job. There are twenty percent more incidents of heart attacks on Mondays due to the stress of returning to toxic company cultures with abusive managers.

Although brave soldiers have sacrificed and the United States have spent billions to stop violence against defenseless countries and our world allies, our nation has not gained control of the increasing psychological violence inside the borders of the American workplace. Civility, trust and respect seem to be losing ground to schoolyard-type bullies who work in the corner office. Competition for promotions, raises and bonuses can bring out the worst in people. If results at any cost are rewarded, company managers and employees may resort to bullying behavior to get things done; an unethical, inhumane, but perfectly legal management technique in America.

Although it is illegal to discriminate against women or minorities based on sex or race, it is perfectly legal in the United States for an unreformed-schoolyard-bully-turned-executive to yell, scream, berate, curse, belittle, exclude, or be downright cruel to employees. According to Dr. Gary Namie, Workplace Bullying Institute, “Bullying is mostly legal. Employers can ignore it with little risk. However, it is four times more prevalent than illegal status-based discrimination.”

Some companies encourage and reward bullying tactics that force employees to cower and passively accept their role to do what you are told. Typically, an employee who complains of such bullying behavior to human resources will eventually be terminated in a matter of days, weeks or months. Although human resources should review, investigate and resolve each employee relations issue in an objective manner, human resource professionals and friends of the bully tend to turn against the target of the bullying behavior.

When company leadership adopts, models and promotes positive people practices and initiates the process of creating a great place to work, the toxic levels inside the organization will begin to fall and employee energy and engagement will begin to rise.

Kevin Kennemer is founder of The People Group based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kevin is driven by his passion for company owners and their need to earn a profit, employees' desire for a positive and fulfilling work experience, and the community that benefits when both groups do well.


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