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Debate: ‘Robust performance management’ or workplace bullying? Not just the ‘what’ but the ‘how’

Omari, M. and Paull, M.ORCID: 0000-0001-8613-2159 (2017) Debate: ‘Robust performance management’ or workplace bullying? Not just the ‘what’ but the ‘how’. Public Money & Management, 37 (5). pp. 315-316.

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There is a very fine and difficult to detect line between what can be called ‘robust performancfae management’ and workplace bullying. Most policies, guidance notes, codes of practice and legislative provisions are clear in that ‘reasonable management’ action does not constitute workplace bullying. But what is ‘reasonable management’ action? And are these few simple words enough to delineate justified management behaviour for corrective action from workplace bullying behaviour that is abusive, unfair, harsh, aggressive, ‘over-the-top’, ‘nit-picky’ and unrelenting?

This distinction is more complicated than it first appears. A study of workplace bullying in the Australian public service found that a small number of victims reported increased productivity after being bullied. This may point to a number of scenarios, including the alleged victims’ performance having been sub-standard in the first place, and/or manager action having had positive effects on productivity, quality of work and output. It may also be that the alleged victims pushed themselves even harder in response to being bullied, and performed better in the hope that the bullying would stop. So, is this robust performance management and therefore ‘reasonable management’ action, or is it workplace bullying? The answer here is not only about the ‘what’, but also the ‘how’.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School Of Business and Governance
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Copyright: © 2017 Informa UK Limited
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