For generations, parents, teachers and coaches have used the story of ‘The Three Little Pigs’ as a way to inspire their children to work hard, make good decisions and ultimately do the right thing. Like all good stories, the implications of not complying are played out to reinforce the learning!

So, when the ‘Big Bad Bully’ comes to your workplace, are you prepared?

Wouldn’t you agree, that the ‘Big Bad Wolf’ bears a striking resemblance with the ‘Big Bad Bully’ in any workplace?

That person, senior or junior, competent or not, who if not dealt with appropriately, stifles culture and tears the shreds off engagement scores! Even worse, when that ‘Big Bad Bully’ is in a position of leadership and influences a following of similar versions of themselves.

Ouch, it’s all too familiar….. In fact recent surveys from the Australian Human Rights Commission, found that 1 in 2 people have witnessed workplace bullying in the Australian workplace! But let’s not get caught in the doom and gloom and start to explore this from the perspective of ‘The Three Little Pigs’…..

Or should I say ‘The Three Leaders’, as a way to consider the importance of creating safer, fairer and better workplaces here in Australia.

The first leader….. The GOOD leader builds a workplace culture out of STRAW

The GOOD leader recognises that safety is important. They build their workplace culture with straw and have workplace policies and procedures in place to cover things such as safety, privacy and human rights.

New starters are typically briefed on these workplace policies and procedures at the time of induction/onboarding and can access them on an ongoing basis thereafter via some form of intranet or online document sharing system. People are generally not trained beyond core safety requirements.

When the ‘Big Bad Bully’ comes along in the form of a workplace incident such as bullying, harassment or discrimination, their people will probably identify it, but often not know how to report it. Unfortunately, their managers and supervisors are blindsided and the organisation is left exposed because more often than not, when the ‘Big Bad Bully’ comes to town, the matter is not handled appropriately, despite good intentions. The impact to the people involved and the damage to the reputation of the organisation can be significant. The story spreads like wild flower and the best people strive to find other places to work.

Workplaces that are built out of something slightly stronger, like sticks or bricks, where people feel safe and are treated fairly and with respect, even when the ‘Big Bad Bully’ confronts them.

The second leader….. The BETTER leader builds a workplace culture out of STICKS

The BETTER leaders take a little more effort to make their people feel safe.

They build their workplace culture with sticks and like good leaders they have workplace policies and procedures in place for things such as safety, privacy and human rights. But where they are different, is that they go beyond policies and procedures and invest in educating their workers on things such as safety, privacy, and matters pertaining to anti-bullying, harassment and discrimination.

This happens at the time of induction/onboarding and on regular basis thereafter, to ensure that safety is top of mind and that people are treated fairly and with respect in the workplace. But unfortunately, what is often missed, is more specific training for leaders, managers and supervisors on how to handle workplace incidents when they arise.

So when the ‘Big Bad Bully’ comes along, whilst their people can identify it and report it to their supervisor or manager, it can often come unstuck because process is not followed as part of the resolution process, despite a managers best efforts.

The story is passed on to others in the organisation and by the time your best people start to leave, one by one, often in eerie silence, it is too late to upgrade from sticks to bricks!

The third leader….. The BEST leader builds a workplace culture out of BRICKS

The BEST leaders make their people feel safe. They build their workplace culture with bricks on the strong foundation of a workplace compliance system which includes reliable workplace policies and procedures as well as training for their people on things such as safety, privacy and human rights.

They also invest time and money in educating their leaders, managers and supervisors in how to identify potential workplace incidents before they happen and how to handle such difficult matters when they arise. This happens at the time of induction/onboarding and on an ongoing basis thereafter, through a combination of internal resources and external trusted workplace compliance partners.

So when the ‘Big Bad Bully’ comes along in the form of a workplace incident such as bullying, harassment or discrimination, their people know how to identify and report it. Importantly, their managers and supervisors know how to handle it in accordance with the organisations workplace policies and procedures.

The incident tends to be resolved, the ‘Big Bad Bully’ dealt with appropriately and the workplace culture strengthened by yet another story of a leaders, managers and work colleagues working together to create a workplace where people are safe and treated fairly and with respect, regardless of their age, gender, race or sexual preferences.

These stories end up being told to people internal and external to your organisation and before you know it, people from other organisations are lining up to come and work with you. They want to come to the safety of a workplace culture that is built with bricks and that has a strong risk, governance and workplace compliance system in place.

Let’s face it, in today’s day and age the people you want in your workplace do not want to put up with a ‘Big Bad Bully’.

Yes, the people you want in your workplace, understand the importance of workplace compliance and want everyone to feel safe and to be treated fairly and with respect. They know that when this happens we can all do our best and great things can happen!