How to Handle Bullying in the Workplace

How do you identify and proactively prevent bullying behavior?


Speaker and entrepreneur Harmony Hensley recognizes that bullying does not just occur in school. Unfortunately, it is prevalent in the workplace, too. Bullying in the workplace creates disrespectful and challenging situations for employees, and negatively affects organizational culture and employee engagement. 

Watch the interview to learn Harmony's insights on identifying bullying behavior and how it helps leaders pinpoint patterns of behavior and proactively address and correct patterns before they become toxic.

In the disability space, we are often exposed to something that we call a pattern of behavior. We might find that when we're dealing with a specific individual, we find over and over again when they're placed in a certain environment, they have a reaction that is negative or not socially appropriate. Over a period of time, they develop a pattern.

In the HR world, we might notice the same thing. Let's say that there's a specific department in your organization, that seems to have a recurring issue with conflict, or not delivering on time, or individuals feeling isolated or left out. When we start to see a pattern of behavior, it means that we as leaders need to step back and look at what's causing that pattern of behavior. Is there a specific person that's always involved? Is there a specific trigger? What is it that causes that conflict? And start to really peel back the layers of that so that you can isolate what the conflict is and then come up with real tangible solutions to resolve it.

It's interesting to me that we hear a lot in the media about bullying right now, which obviously is pretty age appropriate. It's for kids and for teenagers because they are the ones who bully. But the reality is in the workforce and in all organizations, unfortunately bullying takes place. It just looks very different. One of the things that I've actually learned a lot about in the disabilities world is how to deal with difficult people.

Because often, I'm called into an organization because they've had a hard time dealing with either a parent or maybe an individual who has some hard things that they're dealing with and they just want me to fix it. It really goes to a greater more systemic issue that usually has to do with people not feeling respected, not feeling safe or not feeling valued.

So I would encourage HR professionals and leaders within any organization of size to really dig deep into that and not think that bullying training and awareness is something just for kids, but it's something that really should be addressed in the adult space as well. Because the reality is, often we are exposed to that as a child and it can repeat itself when we grow up. It can be very toxic for an organization. So the more we create space for people to really air that and talk through it in a healthy, controlled environment, is going to put us in a healthier position as an organization.


Harmony Hensley

Harmony Hensley is a speaker, entrepreneur and board vice president of Bespoken Live. She is also an Ambassador for 99 balloons, seeking to change the story of disability globally.

As a sought-after speaker, Harmony has spoke...

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