Toward building loyalty and high morale

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Thursday, July 18, 2013


BULLYING in school is rife it seems - but cast aside notions that we are talking about the bullying of children - no, we mean the bullying of teachers and other employees by superiors.

Bullying is wrong and can be very devastating. Research indicates that bullying can result to disturbed working relationships, low morale and loss of self-efficacy, anger and hurt. It can diminish one’s ability to engage in active work. For others the cost can be even higher, with lasting psychological damage. It is therefore not in the interests of schools to allow a culture of bullying to thrive.

“Bullying by a superior in school, is there such a thing?” I hear critics say. Well it’s about time we move from ‘it doesn’t happen here’ to acceptance and to putting policies in place to try to stop it. We’re at an interesting stage in how bullying at work is being tackled.

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It may not be a popular idea but organizational culture can itself create institutional bullying through autocratic management styles and tolerating aggressive behavior because it is believed to ‘get results’.

There’s a fine line between reasonable management control and bullying. Some managers believe they are being ‘firm’ when they are bullying. But this belief may lead them to committing serious departure from the professional standards expected of a person in charge.

Staff in schools or in any work place for that matter have a right to work in a safe and secure environment free from intimidation, harassment, abuse and fear and where they feel valued and respected. All workers are entitled to be treated with dignity at work. Unhappy teachers or workers - at every level -will not remain loyal indefinitely. Promotions, titles, privileges, and better workloads are rewards which soon lose their potency in the face of underlying dissatisfactions with the workplace atmosphere.

Decline in enthusiasm and morale among employees can be a symptom of leadership demise. Workers will start to grumble more loudly and more frequently about policies and procedures. Maintaining an internal communications system that encourages feedback can be one preventative medicine. One-sided listening only causes dissention among staff members.

Listening to only your favored employee builds animosity and will only alienate others. Dealing with disagreement as impartial as you could be and curbing favoritism before it gets out of hand is vital in reinforcing positive behaviors and creating a culture that goes beyond paying lip service to fairness.

Threats and power plays are not the way to inspire loyalty from the individual workers. Good leaders do not need to threaten; they lead by inspiring, teaching and encouraging their employees. A wise boss recognizes it’s his employees that produce profits and is never condescending to them. He or she actively seeks feedback, even negative comment and listens with an open mind and fully considers an employee’s issues. Even in the case of a problem that can’t be helped, allowing an employee to vent for even a minute or two can go a long way toward building loyalty and high morale.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 18, 2013.

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