Bullying doesn’t stop in school. In fact, one might say that some of the most challenging individuals in the workplace have learnt bullying from a young age. Remember that kid who used to tease you, push you around or even encourage others not to play with you in the schoolyard. Well, 30 years on they have been refining those bullying personality traits and applying them on a daily basis in the workplace. They have become a massive threat to the mental and physical health and safety of everyone in their surrounds!

Yes, workplace bullying does exist in the workplace, in fact, one in two workers have witnessed workplace bullying in the Australian workplace*. Sometimes in very obvious ways, but often in less obvious ways and in this blog we take you on a journey of ten of the bullying personality archetypes in the workplace, and how to stop them. Yes, workplace bullying can have serious impacts, from the health and well being of the individual, to fines and criminal charges for the offenders and the organisation. Below are the 10 archetypes of workplace bullies that are trashing your anti-harassment workplace policies and procedures, if you have them in the first place.

The Angry Bird

The Angry Bird

This is easily the most recognisable type of workplace bully. This type of bully actively finds ways to provoke people in the workplace. They are often loud and do everything in their power to intimidate others and disrupt their thought process. This bully resorts to insults and name-calling. They’ll humiliate you in front of others, and unfortunately, they are often in a position of authority and have built an army of ‘followers’ who sit by and watch it all play out on the next unexpecting victim!

The Two-Faced Snake

The Two Faced Snake

The two-faced bully acts like a trusted friend or colleague. They appear friendly and trustworthy. However, this person will destroy your reputation, stab you in the back, spread rumours and even steal credit for your work. You may not even realise you are being bullied until you start to piece together months of calculated, inappropriate and repeated acts of bullying against you and others that you work closely with

The Prankster

The Prankster

Everyone loves a good prank every now and then, but there’s a point where “harmless” pranks can be considered bullying. When that prank harms someone either physically or emotionally, then that’s when it becomes bullying.

However, not every prankster is a bully, but it’s important for them to stay on the right side of the line between playing a harmless prank and intentionally humiliating someone.

The Gatekeeper

The Gatekeeper

A Gatekeeper is a person or group with a vested interest in limiting the choices of other people. Many workplaces have gatekeepers of some sorts, who purposely exclude others from workplace activities so that their targets never quite feel like they belong. Unlike other types of bullies, the Gatekeeper is a passive bully. This bully’s key weapons are their resources, time and information. They will deny you of these resources so that you can’t do your job efficiently.

The Gossipmonger

The Gossipmonger

This type of bully will whisper in the game room and spread rumours on coffee runs. Sometimes it’s personal stuff other times it’s performance-related. Both are hurtful and can damage reputations.

This bully can be particularly threatening, because your reputation may be damaged before you know it’s even happening or have the opportunity to defend yourself.

The Criticising Cricket

The Criticising Cricket

These are the people responsible for decreased labour productivity and low morale. Constructive criticism is a good thing, but pestering people often for no good or even malignant and selfish reasons is both annoying and toxic, to say the least. These people are also responsible for micro-managing employees.

The Forever Thirsty (for attention)

The Forever Thirsty

Whatever these people do, it is to seek external validation. They will try to be on the good side of management by constant flattery. They will also be really nice to the colleagues, only in a superficial manner. They have a reputation of coaxing out personal information from a person only to use it against them later. They can be really disruptive and annoying during a meeting or a group task, hindering good workplace culture to better their own promotional prospects and to appease their over-inflated ego!

The Wannabe

The Wannabe

These bullies come from a major sense of lack thus they have created a very high sense of self for themselves in compensation. They see themselves as indispensable. They watch workers that are more competent and always trumpet their mistakes. They are not agile, and will hardly take suggestions positively. In fact, any feedback directed towards them will often be taken as an insult and they will go out of their way to hurt, humiliate or discredit others.

The Self proclaimed Guru

The Self Proclaimed Guru

There are no issues with their own productivity it is just that they lessen everyone else’s. They feel that they are above all and lack emotional maturity. As a result, they fail to consider how their actions affect others and aren’t able to fathom the possibility that they can be wrong. They don’t hold themselves responsible for their own actions, they also don’t amend to the rules that everyone follows. They are not a good team player and will often put others down as a way to make themselves look high and mighty!

The Sociopath

The Sociopath

These employees are intelligent, articulated and, charming but are the most destructive bullies of all. The reason for that is their biology doesn’t allow them to have any empathy for others. These bullies often rise to positions of power within the company, by manipulating people to get what they want. They have no concern for anyone, and they are alien to the concept of ethics and morals.

So how do you tackle bullying in the workplace? 

Sometimes, we may not even realise that bullying is already happening. This lack of awareness can lead to a culture of bullying within our workplaces that can lead to difficult and expensive consequences both for the employee harassed and your organisation.

The best defence any organisation can have against workplace bullying is prevention. So often understood as common sense, but so rarely put into place as common practice is an appropriate education process for newly inducted staff and as ongoing refreshers, and that is workplace compliance systems such as the one that Sentrient provides are so important for all businesses in Australia.

To get you started, here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to creating a good workplace culture that is free from workplace harassment and bullying.

  • Define what workplace bullying means in legal terms. Also list out the common behaviours that constitute as toxic, rogue and at times illegal behaviours.
  • Educate your employees, contractors, volunteers, etc. with online workplace compliance training courses. E-learning workplace compliance training courses are the best way not only to educate your employees on proper conduct but also saves you from vicarious liabilities.
  • Outline the complaint procedures for employees for proper Workplace Incident Reporting, including guidance on what to do when the bully is the senior person or the manager.
  • Carry out a detailed explanation of the complaint and investigate the matter to solve things internally.
  • Assure employees there will be no “Victim Shaming,” this will help employees carry out proper workplace incident reporting, unencumbered by fear.
  • A detailed list of violating anti-bullying workplace policies and procedures.

SMBs and larger organisations with Australia are choosing to address such matters via the Sentrient online workplace compliance system which includes: e-learning workplace compliance training courses, a workplace policymaker and an automated full-stack workplace system for central control and real-time reporting. onto find out more, please contact us on 1300 040 589 or mail us at info@sentrient.com.au.

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*Based on a survey conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2012, which found that bullying, harassment and discrimination continues to be a serious problem in Australian workplaces.