HR

I was bullied relentlessly at work – change needs to lead from the top

- June 14, 2024 3 MIN READ

[TRIGGER WARNING]

This article discusses suicide and suicidal ideation, and some people might find it disturbing. If you or someone you know is suicidal, help is available. Contact Lifeline’s  24 hour call service on  13 11 14.

The impact that a manager can have on you is often not considered until it is exceptional at either end of the spectrum. Thankfully there are experiences where a people manager makes a significant positive impact: however, mine was not one of them, writes Adam Blum.

As a leader now, I fail to understand why throughout my working career, I experienced such terrible managers. One in particular comes to mind. A man who harassed and berated me to the point where I attempted to end my life as a direct result of blue-collar bullying. That final day he had called me three words that crumbled what little remained of my resilience threshold – he called me a liar, a bludger, and a thief. Three words that are etched in my memory forever


Importance of resilience

As we continue to advance technologically, personal resilience is more important than ever. Constant demands as people are asked to consistently perform at a higher level easily unsettle the “average Joe”, and it’s a slippery slope to battling self-confidence without a resilience threshold. Resilience provides a force field that protects anyone from taking anything personally and removes the feeling of responsibility for everything that happens around us.  A resilience threshold is just like a muscle that needs to be exercised, and like physical health it is created from  constant sessions in the mental “gym”

Building resilience

Resilience is often built through adversity. For me, that was the case. It’s not that we necessarily need to put ourselves in the line of fire to get “tough,” but rather that there are simple practices that help.

  • Meditation
  • Daily meditation slows the brain waves and allows us to be with our thoughts without Centering thoughts removes the emotional reaction and provides clarity for each situation. 
  • Daily exercise – no matter how strenuous
  • Exercise cannot be underestimated for its benefits in building Studies demonstrate that people who exercise experience higher vitality and enthusiasm and lower levels of tension and fatigue. Daily exercise sets up the foundations for a healthy mind that can tolerate greater stress with less effort.
  • Journalling gets our thoughts down on paper and clears negativity simply by taking thoughts out of our heads and onto the page. You will be amazed when you look back a week, a month, and six months down the track at how far you have come just by writing how you are feeling day by day. Through all the struggles and the pain, you are activating a more resilient version of yourself.

Find what works for you. Not everything I do will work for everyone, but testing and adjusting a broad range of techniques and implementing them into your daily routine will build your resilience shield.


The Toxic Workplace

The sad reality is that, for those in the full-time workforce, we spend half of our time with colleagues that we likely wouldn’t choose as mates. The toxic workplace that enabled my boss to bully me directly into the path of suicide had no built-in strategies to protect their workers, to make leadership accountable for the toxicity that spread like cancer, and to build resilience in its team.

Resilience and Leadership: Influencing and promoting resilience from the top

  • A good leader understands that the effectiveness of their team is a direct reflection of a supportive and cohesive workplace. You are only as strong as your weakest link.
  • Leaders can build resilience in individuals by allowing them to be mentored through a formal or informal program.
  • Leaders can ensure their teams are aware of mental health support and resources and create an environment where their workers feel comfortable and courageous enough to speak up when they need help.
  • Leaders hold their subordinate leaders accountable for the environment they create and foster, just as they are ultimately responsible.

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