Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited
Keywords: Bullying, Organizational change, Books
Bullying at work is a problem that is gaining increasing recognition by managers who are beginning to count the cost of workplace bullying in terms of absenteeism, illness, quality reduction and even litigation. Managers interested in taking the sensible step of instigating an anti-bullying policy would be well advised to visit Bully OnLine (see http://www.succes sunlimited.co.uk), Web site of the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line.
The homepage of this site opens with the startling comment from Tim Field, who manages the site, that "the serial bully ... is the single most important threat to the effectiveness of organisations". If this does not persuade you to bookmark the site as a valuable resource, then the extensive list of contents will. Topics range from frequently asked questions (FAQs) about bullying, harassment and discrimination to action on tackling bullying at work, guidance for employers on policy development, profiles of the serial bully, workplace bullying and the unions, bullying and law, bullying and stress, the cost of bullying to employers, toxic managers and many, many more topics. In fact, I counted almost 100 different pages and resources linked to Bully Online.
The many useful pages are far too numerous to cite, but one highlight for me is a guide to recognising a bullying employer. Signs to look out for, says Field, are high staff turnover, high sick leave, stress breakdowns, ill-health retirements, early retirements, grievances and involvement in industrial tribunals. And, there are plenty such employers about, it seems. In a survey cited on another page, the largest number of calls to a TUC Bad Boss Hotline in December 1997 concerned bullying (38 per cent) whilst a later survey by Staffordshire University Business School found that 40 per cent of Unison members had experienced or witnessed bullying at work.
Bully Online also has pages specific to various professions (e.g. nursing, social work, the voluntary sector), countries (especially in the US) and plenty dedicated to case histories and legal precedents. But, the pages that might be of most interest to readers are those presenting a 20-step plan on developing an anti-bullying policy at work which "most reasonable employers and all sensible employers' should have. Tips on creating an anti-bullying ethos include asking staff for their views on bullying with an attitude survey, plagiarising the Bully OnLine Web site for the benefit of employees and instigating Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs).
Like most Internet sites, Bully OnLine does have products to sell. However, the extremely high ratio of information and resources to marketing makes this site fairly unique in its non-commercial remit. According to Field, the site, which has been visited by 26,000 plus people in two years, is funded by sales of his books and seminars - and given the generosity of material provided on the site, perhaps a little self-promotion this time is acceptable.
Onto a completely different topic - change management. This is always of interest to those involved in organizational development and the huge number of books and texts that continue to be churned out by the publishing industry is testament to the on-going demand for resources to help organizations cope with change. But, I wondered, are there any resources freely available on the Internet? After wading through dozens and dozens of "information" sites set up by consultants which were only selling their own services, I came across a real gem. Set up by a consultancy firm in New Jersey (The Distance Consulting Company), their site "Change management: a Primer" (http://home.att.net/~nickols/change.htm) actually provides an interesting and useful insight into change - without having to get out your credit card.
The site consists of a paper which aims to provide a broad overview of the concept of change management for people who "are coming to grips with change management problems for the first time" as well as for more experienced people who wish to "reflect on their experience in a structured way". The paper is structured into three parts: the task of managing change, change as an area of professional practice and change as a body of knowledge (methods, techniques, tools etc.). It then goes on to discuss the change process as problem-solving and problem-finding in which change can be viewed as a "how" problem, a "what" problem or a "why" problem. The ten or so pages of text end with an outline of the skills a change agent needs - including political analytical and people skills.
All in all, the paper presented is an interesting introduction to change management and well worth a visit before heading to the bookshop to wade through the texts on sale there.
Talking of books, there are so many management texts out there, how is a manager to choose? In addition to studying the Book Review section in this journal, you could try logging on the Bookwatch (http://www.Book Watch.com.au/), a site designed to review hundreds of management books. The reviews, written by managers for managers, promise a "comparative evaluation of recent books and other resources". Conveniently categorised by topic (leadership, change management, training etc.), it is easy to browse areas of interest and make a more informed choice about what to buy.
Sandi MannUniversity of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK