When a victim of bullying comes forward, he or she has usually spent days, weeks, or months trying to decide whether or not to bring the issue to your attention. More than 90% of victims decide not to make a formal complaint because of the perceived risk involved.
“Things are bad now but will they be worse afterward?”
“I am too embarrassed by what happened to let anyone know about it.”
“What will it do to my career?”
“Will my boss believe me?”
“What if there is retaliation after I complain?”
When an employee makes the decision to take a risk and bring the complaint forward, the manager’s response is critical. Out of a variety of options, the victim has chosen you to be the first one to know about the complaint. The pressure is on.
Managers and supervisors may or may not be trained in the proper response to complaints, though they are held to a high standard in these situations. Whatever the preparation, a complaint is not something to take lightly.
Are you prepared for this type of complaint? If not, talk to your manager or Human Resources about your company policies and how to gain the skills needed to respond appropriately the first time a complaint comes to you. Most manager mistakes happen in the first few minutes of those meetings.
Watch for signs of bullying so you can intervene at an early stage. Prevention is the best overall route to take in these situations.