Bullying Still a Major Issue at Tech Firms

Think bullying’s restricted to the schoolyard? Think again: A majority of tech pros report that a co-worker tormented them at some point.

That data comes from Connectria, a cloud-hosting company that’s trying to draw buzz with a ‘No Jerks Allowed’ campaign, because office tormenters are as bad as faulty cloud hosting, or something. (Hat tip to Business Insider for the original link.)

Connectria surveyed 250 IT professionals in the U.S., who collectively reported that bullying isn’t a minor problem, with 55 percent of respondents reporting some degree of browbeating by a co-worker. An even larger portion (65 percent) claimed they were outright fearful of their bullying colleague.

If that wasn’t bad enough, some 83 percent reported having worked with a “jerk” within the past five years. Those so-called “jerks” can have a significant impact on office morale, productivity, and work quality. No Jerks Allowed dumps these workers into several subcategories: Know-It-Alls, Bullies, Complainers, Brown-Nosers, and Office Gossips.

While many offices enforce a “zero tolerance” policy, others excuse bullying and similar activities as a side effect of the pressure-cooker environment that (many feel) drives tech firms to success. Until the latter firms change that culture, bullying will likely remain a factor for the foreseeable future.

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11 Responses to “Bullying Still a Major Issue at Tech Firms”

  1. First of all I can’t see how any adult would allow someone to “bully” them in the workplace.
    Like sexual harassment, if you feel someone is attempting to “bully” you, do the following:
    1) Report it to the next higher authority. If the “bully” is your immediate supervisor, report it to
    her/his supervisor.
    2) If that doesn’t work report it to the corporate executives via a FedEx or UPS letter to insure
    receipt. send a copy to your state labor relations board, and a lawyer.
    3) If you don’t get a response, then at the very next incident call 911, get the police involved.

    NEVER forget that ALL “bullys” are really scared insecure people in need of psychiatric help.
    So don’t waste anytime trying to “figure them out”

    • You are totally off, Guy.

      There is no “bullying” -this is BIGOTRY.

      You cannot contact a supervisor, or a higher up, because they DO NOT CARE. The USA no longer exists. Corporations rule over us, and can threaten to send our jobs to out-sourced labor in India -places like Microsoft in Redmond atually fly Indians and the ENTIRE FAMILIES to replace Americans, because they can under-bid us (thanks to the World Trade Organization). So, when a company can out-source, and make most of its money from off-shore hedge funds in a place like the USA where there is ZERO accountability for corporate ‘leaders’/executives, they can do whatever they want -since managent has THE NERVE to call us folks working in I.T. “overhead”, telling us we “…do not matter, since we are not part of a profit generating department”, then as a result as long as the I.T. department can ‘keep the lights on’ no one really cares about what goes on in the bigot tribal climate of that which is the cubicle hell of I.T.. We have offices now that are more political havens for bigot tribes while co-workers obsess on who they think is ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’, and then how to be a bigot and weed out others different w/their twisted sense of ‘survival of the fittest’. Whether this is the passive aggressive forms of bigotry in places like Redmond / Seatttle, WA or more assertive bigotry in places like Phoenix/Tempe, AZ, the concepts of ‘cooperation’, ‘tolerance’, or training/learning from others are totally taboo concepts in the former-USA. All that matters today is profit, cost savings, consumerism, and bigotry. There is no livability, health, community, democracy -for those you need something in place that enables and perpetuates cooperation, tolerance, training/learning from others. I hear so-called ‘Americans’ in the car culture of remote office parks say things like ‘people who live in the city are part of the populist vote, so we gotta make sure city life is decimated if not hindered cuz they are all a bunch of f’n liberals…’, and if you are not expressing favor for that you will be weeded out with BIGOTRY, not bullying -bullying is a politically correct way of allowing bigotry to perpetuate in the former-USA, so kids grow up w/no real hinderance for their childish actions -that is why when people say most ‘Americans’ have a 5th Grade education -it should really be expressed as ***most ‘Americans’ have a 5th Grade level of MATURITY***. We are consumers that pretend to be ‘American’. There is no bullying, but there is total BIGOTRY perpetuated all over the former-USA, while every June will be another generation of high school students turning old enough to vote but w/no idea how to keep track of their city council, how to meet them, track their congressman, or how to meet them, or track the affects of gerrymandering, what all the amendments are, how a bill gets blocked (not only passed), or where town hall meetings are and how to get involved in them -NO WAY, we have to know only about sitting in traffic, stripmalls, brand identities, how to get away with being a bigot while we live following advertisments disguised as entertainment with commercials when we are not at work pushing corporate policy being told we have no value as our jobs are out-sourced to India.

      • I appreciate that you’ve been done wrong a number of times, presumably by Big-Name companies. You are justified in your frustration and rage. Nobody likes to be treated unjustly. Not even mobsters! (possibly the only honest ones about criminal thinking and its role in profitability in the BigTime.).

        This is a very angry, almost irrational, “dumping ground” sort of post, though. As a fellow Tech, I ask you to please talke to some counseling agency, and specifically ask for something called CBT to manage and help defuse these negative, high pressure emotions before you harm yourself with a heart attack or early stroke. (I’m a counselor these days, thanks.)

        Let me gently confront the way these threads are going in general – this is about BULLYING. Children and abusive people “bully”. Yes, they are insecure and often internalize loads of anger – taking it out by hurting weaker people (or defenseless animals) – hurting those whom they do not think can hurt them back.

        BIGOTRY is a different problem. I have yet to see a major corporation knowingly permit bigotry to go on … because they can face all sorts of legal repercussions for it! Bigots act on prejudice, which results in discrimination, bias in the workplace, toxic work environment, etc. IF a company were shown to permit that with reasonable awareness, and did not act (even if not asked via formal HR complaint process) HUGE penalties can accrue, including bad press. Wal-mart is one that fell into that … but you can easily Google for HR violations/Walmart, or any other firm.

        Yes, I was bullied at 2 of my IT jobs – and at another, was sexually harassed. The bullies were shut down by colleagues that liked me, and overheard the bullies’ verbal harassment. Peer pressure was sufficient in one case, in another, I talked to my manager, and that saved my job – the bullies just hated me as a contractor on a government job – and wanted me fired!

        That one was worst, both verbal intimidation, and deliberate badmouthing to a new manager (taking advantage of her unfamiliarity with me) to set me up (a friend warned me in time to halt the problem in time). But it also touches on bigotry: the resentment that regular workers may feel towards “temps”, or “contractors” – for *many* reasons.

        I can’t say IT was better or worse than other fields I worked in. Politics seem to be an issue in most places. Heck – isn’t the interview process highly political? Measuring us to see if we are “a good fit” and likely to “get along” there?

    • Hey, I say we go old school and just stand up to the guy. Tattling never did any good with “bullies”, and it never will. Stand up, if he doesn’t back down, bust that nose for him. You would have to do this outside of the workplace, of course, but you would potentially kill two birds with one stone. Most of the time, a “bully” will back down, and it won’t even get to the nose-busting phase. If he does meet you outside of the workplace, well then it’s on so you better be too. In my personal experience, even if he gets the best of me, he leaves me alone after that. A “bully” doesn’t like to be stood up to. And even if he kicks my butt, that’s better than being a sniveling tattle-tale that gets NO RESULTS. I would rather tote an A-Whoopin’ than to be that guy! We used to settle thing with boxing matches and that seemed to work pretty well too.

    • It doesn’t matter if the bully is insecure. What matters is that he/she is on company time and damaging company morale. There’s no guarantee that his or her supervisor can ir will do anything about it — all you can do is document it, and, if the pattern persists, find a better job and leave.

      Even that’s no guarantee — some supervisors will promise to “get you” after you do leave. So don’t tell them where you’re going, and ward their supervisors to not allow it: there will be blowback.

      I’ve seen multi-billion dollar corporations taken down by internal bullies.

  2. Yes, there are jerks out there in the world, but I have to question the survey and the method and the sample size. 250 people isn’t that many. I am finding it hard to post an intelligent comment with the limited number of characters. For those dealing with bullies, true bullies, remember HR is not on your side. Run away, don’t walk. There is very little you can do which will hurt them and not look bad on you from someone not involved in the situation. There is no obligation to bad mouth them on the way out. NOT having an exit interview is probably more powerful statement than having one. Give them their two weeks. IF someone is dumb enough to assault you, go after them with the criminal legal system and then the civil legal system.

  3. Yes, bullying in IT is real and it is tolerated. My experience was with a large corporation, and there was an individual (from India) who convinced a very non-technical management team that he was amazingly bright and talented just by telling them so repeatedly. He put on a facade of being sweet and charming unless he did not get his way, and then he bullied anyone who had the temerity to refuse him by shouting and banging his fist on the table and threatening to go to the CEO. Management so trusted this idiot that they wouldn’t even tell him his behavior was inappropriate.
    They didn’t believe how incompetent he was until he activated a program that was so bad that it took down the entire production system. Twice.

  4. It isn’t so simple as standing up to the bully or reporting his/her conduct. Bullies typically blindside their targets, work behind the target’s back, and undermine the target with comments and insinuations to other people. A bully is also typically someone with knee-pads on in the corner office. If the boss is at all susceptible to flattery the bully takes advantage of that. I’ve had the experience of trying to talk to the boss about difficulties with a bully and getting a smirk as a response. Linda is right about the faking too. The bully I encountered was doing (at best) a third of the work I was doing and mostly phoning that in.

    Note to Darian: legal proceedings may seem like a good idea, but bullying is very difficult to prove. You need complete documentation. And remember that a bully will have turned others against you, so you may not be able to produce any witnesses on your behalf.

  5. I agree with Aaron and Linda. There are tools out there to document everything like the Employees Workplace Companion but you’d need to be working with an employment attorney to guide you into what you’d need to spank and punish the abuser.

  6. In IT, what some may classify as bullying is in fact holding a coworker accountable. In many IT oraganizations, there are a core group of employees that usually handle the sev 1 issues or the weekend upgrade/patching. This core is often called upon to get projects back on schedule, correct code, or fix networking issues. So the employees will call out other employees for not completing their tasks or not submitting quality work. No one likes getting calked out, but if a worker is consistently providing substandard work, then they get called out.