Scan your environment and you’ll readily see that in your workplace, ostracism can be found everywhere. Specifically, there are four prevalent situations that by their very nature will trigger ostracism experiences:
Biased managers. When a manager ‘plays favourites’ or maintains personal friendships with some direct reports, those who are excluded will experience ostracism.
Diversity. Those who perceive themselves as ‘different’ often feel rejected or excluded. And sometimes it is a member of a ‘majority’ who feels ostracised. For example, a common complaint I hear when I consult or facilitate training pertains to people speaking a foreign language amongst themselves. The English-speaking person beside them often feels excluded and rejected.
Incivility. Every workplace is hampered by some degree of gossip, cliques, skipping of hello’s and thank you’s, rude use of mobile devices and, yes, eye rolling. Despite their seemingly inconsequential nature, these incivilities have serious organizational effects. In a 2011 survey I designed in collaboration with HR Reporter Magazine, 93% of respondents said that incivility impacted on productivity, 79% noted it affected absenteeism and 90% said incivility affected inter-departmental collaboration. What the work of Dr. Kipling and his colleagues tells us is that incivility actually hurts, on more than one level.
Bullying. When ostracizing behaviours are repetitive, especially if the behaviour is intentional and targeted, it amounts to full blown workplace bullying. The repetitive nature of ostracism in its bullying form can render people physically and psychologically ill, and they’re often unable to work at all. Essentially, bullying is cyberball magnified a million times.
Next week: Great questions for leaders and HR professionals to consider in the ostracism arena.
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