An ever thinning line between performance management and bullying

Jul 11th, 2018

The focus on workplace bullying is intensifying. With more employees exercising their legal rights, there is a blurring of the line between performance management and workplace bullying. This leads to the question; is it safer to tolerate underperformers than to manage them out of the workplace?

There is a risk that loafers hide behind these protections to keep their job. Questioning performance is tantamount to bullying or harassment.

Managers are also worried about being labelled a workplace bully or having their reputation smeared over false harassment allegations. In this era of trial by media, it doesn’t take much to destroy a career with harassment claims.

Performance management needs to be approached with clear directives and guidelines. Shirking this responsibility on the part of the employer has trickle down effects on the productivity and morale of the other employees. High-performing staff revolt when they carry underperforming employees. Imminently, they doubt the manager’s leadership and leave.

Too many businesses do not sufficiently train managers on handling underperformers and/or do not provide enough support. There’s not enough focus on employee outputs and transparent communication of team productivity. Or they have poor systems with job descriptions, performance-review processes and general workplace expectation.

In the long run, the only defence against underperformance is workplace culture. Performance management is central to change management which leads to a better workplace culture.
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