Another minister another accusation! Report from Guardian Monday 14th November 2022
Currently, there are three ways in which employers deal with bullying, and none of them work.
- Ignore the bullying until forced by E.T. or adverse publicity to do something – then they option 2 or 3
- They move the targets – keep the cancer, move the symptoms
- They move the bully – spreading the cancer!
So firstly government ignored complaints about Gavin Williamson – choosing option 1. until the evidence meant he had to resign – however, the government was pleased with his work as Chief Whip even though, in that role, Gavin is said to have been abusive. If someone is willing to be abusive by text – so creating evidence, heavenly only knows that they are like in person if there is no restraint! The government will have to give him something – he knows where all the skeletons are buried – so they’ll choose 3 if at all possible.
The problem is that most employers are okay with bullying – to keep people on their toes – not understanding that targets find it almost impossible concentrate on their job, which can be dangerous. Colleagues of the target are also affected; a high proportion will be terrified they’ll be the next victim – so their concentration will be affected; some will victim blame, and others will try to take advantage of the situation by, for example, blaming the target for something they have done or should have done. Some will even emulate the bully – bad behaviour is contagious. Also, if you employ a manager who bullies, they will recruit managers who bully. If employers don’t take effective action, the abusive behaviour is normalised – this is now toxicity spreads.
An obvious example of toxicity spreading is Fred Goodwin and RBS. Goodwin was proud of this nickname – ‘Fred the Shred’ he bullied reports into dubious banking activity, manipulating politicians until the Boom No Bust exploded and RBS had to be bailed out by the government costing £20 billion pounds; one bully, Mr. Goodwin cost the U.K. economy £20 billion pounds – an extreme example but bullying is always bad, it’s toxic, and it spreads.
In Dominic Raab’s case, currently, they are choosing option 2. “Senior civil servants at the Ministry of Justice were offered “respite or a route out” of the department when Dominic Raab was reappointed last month, amid concerns that some were still traumatised by his behaviour during a previous stint there.”
When I joined the BBC, they tended to do a mixture of 1 & 2. Ignore the problem until they had to do something – which used to be moving the target – thereby rid of the “problem” – keeping the cancer and moving the symptoms! By the time I left the BBC in 2016, they were moving the bullies – which is what the government will do to Raab, but only if they have to.
On one BBC production, the crew signed a petition against the executive producer because they were bullying on an industrial scale. However, BBC management stepped in because that executive producer was so incompetent that production was in danger of missing the deadline for broadcast! So Drama Controller investigated, covered up, and appointed a new executive producer. Wind forward a decade, and the same executive producer was accused of bullying on another BBC drama!
Union reps and officials have to represent bullies – if they join the union, they are entitled to representation. They would tell me that they didn’t realise what they were doing, that it was due to the effect of stress on them. Remember, when a bully is confronted, they often tell a huge lie for cover – “My father is dying, my mother has dementia” to gain empathy and wriggle out of being held accountable for their actions. If someone wants to bully you why would you expect them to be trueful?
There was a producer on a regular show where a leading actor was always late. A production manager came to report that the actor was late again because their ‘Grandmother has died.” The producer banged their fist on their desk saying, “I want a death certificate.” I’ve been tempted to ask for the equivalent from bullies making excuses. There is no excuse; if you can’t manage your own behaviour, you shouldn’t be a manager, a coach, a CEO, a managing director, a team leader, a supervisor or a producer. Inevitably a few years after representing a bully, I’d hear that they are at it again – usually, targeting even more vulnerable targets in the hope of getting away with it.