Monday, August 30, 2010

Workplace Bullying

The story of Kevin Morrissey’s suicide is terribly tragic and raises some good questions about the fine line between firm management and a boss who is a bully. I know nothing of the details of the Morrissey situation, other than what the press has reported, which is that he made several reports to the University of Virginia’s Human Resources department about his boss and the pressure he was under, and that he suffered from clinical depression.

If this is true, does the HR department have a responsibility to separate the two employees until the situation is stabilized? If an investigation was conducted and was inconclusive, is that enough? Should someone have considered that this employee may have extenuating circumstances that might require a more definitive response to a claim of bullying than your typical scenario? Could the boss have just been tough and Morrissey overly sensitive?

There is a line between being a boss that is very firm, and holds people accountable and a boss that uses verbal intimidation, and favoritism to get what they want from employees. It’s time to have the conversation about it, and come to consensus within your organization about the differences between the two. Start talking.