Administrators who do not hold aggressors accountable are not only making the environment worse, but they may be damaging the aggressor more than they realize. First and foremost, aggressors, especially those where complaints have been made, are most likely avoided and shunned by their colleagues. They may develop work relationships, but many of these are based out of fear and not on authenticity. Even for a workplace aggressor, this is hurtful and only increases the likelihood that a bully will lash out. This perpetuates the problem of bad work relationships.
It is the responsibility of leadership to review job performance and give suggestions to make professionals better. Supervisors who do not offer constructive feedback and stop aggression only encourage bad behavior. Lack of intervention shows the aggressor that bullying is more rewarding than following professional standards. This almost guarantees that the aggressor will continue to abuse others and solidifies that they will develop negative patterns of work behaviors. Aggressors often stagnate in their ability to improve their skills and grow professionally. Aggressors may do OK in their current work environment but their options for other employment may be limited based on their inability to rise to a higher standard of professionalism. They have most likely learned how to rely on bad behavior to get ahead rather than developing the skills that many agencies desire for their workers.
Aggressors become vulnerable when there are changes in leadership. Because workplace bullies have not developed positive professional behaviors, they will depend on their aggression to move forward. New leadership may hold the aggressor accountable to standards of professional behavior which the bully may not be able to do. As such, aggressors may experience sanctions at work or even lose their job as a result. Again, because they have relied so heavily on using fear and abuse at work to get ahead, aggressors may find new employment difficult to secure.
It is always in the best interest of the organization and leadership to take persistent workplace aggression seriously and address it effectively. If not, everyone in the organization suffers, even the workplace bully.
If you or the organization you work for is experiencing persistent workplace aggression or need training on this issue, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at www.jankircher.com. Help is out there.