Beating bullies

IT project failures usually result from non-technical problems. In plain English, that means people issues: lack of consensus and disagreement, poor judgment, bad management, and the entire pantheon of negative human emotions all contribute to IT failures.

IT project failures usually result from non-technical problems. In plain English, that means people issues: lack of consensus and disagreement, poor judgment, bad management, and the entire pantheon of negative human emotions all contribute to IT failures.

Timothy Johnson, who writes the Carpe Factum project management blog, touches on a failure issue that is not often discussed: the project bully. Here are his comments on managing this all-too-common workplace nightmare:

  1. Update your resume. Even if you have no intention of leaving at the moment, the mere act of doing this can be very empowering. You probably need a cheerleader at this point, even if it is yourself.
  2. Document the abuse. If possible, covertly record it (digital recorders are dirt cheap and can be hidden strategically). Put down dates, times, witnesses, what was said, the context, etc. Then visit your HR department and show them the COPIES of your documentation (don't let them have the originals).
  3. Take some sick days. Even if this will get you dinged on your next performance review, call a time out for your own sanity.
  4. Enlist Others. There is, after all, safety in numbers. The more of you that stand up to the bully, the better your chances of de-throning them.

I would add one more to the list: stand up for yourself, in an appropriate and objective manner, avoiding anger to the extent you can.

If you're a project manager or leader, please make sure you don't inadvertently bully others-- it's just not a nice thing to do. And if you intentionally use bullying and intimidation as a tactic, especially against junior colleagues...well, perhaps you should take a closer look in the mirror.

The picture may be funny, but the issue isn't.

Cat and Bullies

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All