Jan 26 , 2020
Bullying in the workplace

Those who can, do; those who can’t, bully.

– Tim Field

Right now, in Australia we have an epidemic of bullying, and the attitude of “grin and bear it” doesn’t help anyone. With mental health challenges increasing in the workplace it is the responsibility of a good leader to scramble ALL the crew into action before being caught out in the vast void of space.

Like an asteroid field, bullying can damage your ship if you don’t navigate a way through. It is not just up to the leader to navigate the ship into a safe space but also the crews. The asteroid field can take on the form of abusive or offensive language or comments, aggressive and intimidating behaviour, belittling or humiliating comments, practical jokes or initiation, unjustified criticism or complaints, and we at Earth2Mars have a zero-tolerance for this behaviour.

It is also imperative that we clarify what bullying is not. In everyday operations of a business, a conflict between what is expected of a worker and what is achieved may cause differences of opinions and disagreements. Bullying is not constructive feedback, requests for review, management of expectations or blunt communication.  We are all human, we get emotional and we have stress and sometimes these are factors that impact how we work. Bullying is repetitive.

Improve a mechanical device and you may double productivity. But improve man, you gain a thousand-fold.

– Khan Noonien Singh (Star Trek, The Original Series)

One of the ways to steer your crew in the right direction is a code of conduct. The Starfleet general orders and regulations from the Star Trek series are a good example of the proper etiquette and policy used in a wide variety of situations. From ship duties (roles and responsibilities), diplomacy with aliens and other worlds (communication skills within the organisation), as well as to reprimand when the conduct was unbecoming.

There is a responsibility in the team in having clear channels of communication when bullying arises, meaning that they feel safe in approaching you as a leader. Taking immediate action gives your crew confidence that they are in a stable environment.  This is a great example of building trust in the workplace and having your crew work on these policies together gives each member ownership and responsibility of your “Enterprise.” Valuing each team members unique voice and point of view will help them realize that you are all on this journey together and that each member is vital to the task at hand.

Bullies take advantage of the innocent bystander effect (Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell). When we stand back and do nothing when we witness bullying, we are the problem. Turning a blind eye and hoping the bully will get bored or that they’re suddenly going to have an epiphany (you’ll be waiting for a while) creates an unhealthy environment.

“The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.” – Malcolm Gladwell

Avoidance gives the bully permission to continue. A bully can quickly suck the morale of your team (or weaponise team members against each other in the business – the ways we have seen this occur has often been a way for a bully to use other people’s conflict to hide their own poor results) and result in low/no productivity in the everyday running of the business, increase sick leave or lead to mass resignations and loss of key personnel and the knowledge they have. Valuing each team members’ unique voice and point of view will help them realise that you are all on this journey together and that each member is vital to the task at hand.

If you’re being bullied in the workplace, speaking up (or walking away) is important. It is ok for you to back yourself. Remember that life is too short to take on the psychological effects of a bully. 

The role of Earth2Mars as change agents is to bring in all voices of the organisation. We work to create a long-lasting healthy culture in a winning workplace environment that doesn’t leave anyone behind.


Bullied in the workplace? Seeking a safe, impartial sounding board? Unsure where to go from here?

Help out by filling out the following survey HERE that will drive future change.


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