4 Clues You May Have an Office Bully on Your Team

office bullying

The workplace inevitably consists of people of differing personalities. Sometimes this results in smooth sailing; sometimes not. Learn how to spot the signs your team has an office bully problem.  

Even with the increase in media coverage of school bullying and efforts to prevent it, office bullying remains an underreported issue. In an OfficeTeam survey, one in three workers admitted they’ve had to deal with an office bully.

More than one-quarter (27 percent) of HR managers polled in the same survey said they think workplace bullying happens at least somewhat often at their company. (For more stats, see the infographic below.) But bullies at work aren't always easy for management to spot. Watch for these four warning signs:

1. Are they insincere?

Think about employees who speak positively about coworkers in public but change their tune later. They say the right things when they know management will notice, but aren’t so kind otherwise. Even casual, negative remarks about other employees can be the sign of a potential problem, so pay attention if you overhear them. Don’t let office gossip get out of hand, and make sure you’re not fueling the fire by participating yourself.

2. Are they overly competitive?

One thing that drives office bullying in some individuals is competitive pressure. Some people will do anything to win. Employee incentives can be excellent motivation tools, but if some staff members seem to dread competition with a particular coworker, take that as a cue to investigate. Budding bullies at work thrive on interpersonal conflict, so recognize when you need to have a chat about how they’re handling competitive situations. Taking action reassures workers you are aware of the problem and actively addressing it.

3. Are they selective responders?

Office bullying can take many forms in today’s highly connected workplace, but one of the most common is a purposeful lack of courteous behavior toward coworkers, or certain people in particular. If an employee repeatedly interrupts or talks over a colleague during a meeting, “forgets” to return emails or “loses” event invitations from fellow employees, you may want to dig deeper.

4. Are they hogging the ball?

According to an OfficeTeam survey, nearly 30 percent of employees polled have had a coworker take credit for an idea that was not theirs. More than half said they did nothing in response. Stay in touch with your team members and projects as they develop so you know where credit is due, and don’t let one self-centered worker ruin things for everyone else.

To learn more about what you can do to bring people on your team together, download a free copy of Creating & Managing The Dream Team.