Why a Workplace Bully Is Too Expensive to Keep
The most powerful argument you can make to get rid of a workplace bully is to build a financial case for why the person is just too expensive to keep. Surprisingly, it is a strategy that is rarely, if ever, used and cost of bullying calculators are hard to find. I have put together my own for you to use.
A financial case will take some time to prepare and requires due diligence in collecting the evidence. However, it trumps an emotional argument every time.
The person you should present your case to is almost always not the HR manager, but the person actually responsible for making financial decisions. You must go straight to the top and bypass the usual channels. To do this you will need to ensure you have built a good working relationship with the power broker in your company. If the bully has already established a good relationship with this person, negotiating around that can be tricky.
Quite often in bully-prone organizations, there is an official organizational hierarchy, and then there is the shadow hierarchy. As part of your research, take the time to work out the shadow organizational chart depicting who the real power brokers are. For example, if the receptionist is sleeping with the CEO, then she may be much higher in the power hierarchy than her prescribed role in the official chart suggests.
By mapping who really has the power, if the person making the decision is not available to you, then the next best person to discuss your case with will be the one who holds the most influence with that person. You may not be a political animal, but the bully is, and now it’s time to play the game a little outside of your usual parameters.
One word of caution, though: Be prepared for the organization not to care about the bottom line, the cost of keeping the bully. It always astonishes me when a company, which touts that profits for shareholders trump every other consideration, doesn’t seem to care about this aspect of their bottom line. But it does happen.
Sometimes the denial and the accompanying arrogance runs so deep that there is no room for the truth to shine a light through the cracks. If that describes your workplace, you should give serious consideration to planning an immediate exit to safeguard both your physical and mental health.
A great example of a powerful financial argument can be found in Bob Sutton’s 2007 book, The No A**shole Rule. In it, he described a case in which a Silicon Valley tech company had an employee, Ethan (not his real name), who was consistently in the top five percent of sales performers. Unfortunately, he also regularly insulted and belittled coworkers, many of whom refused to work with him.