I try to suppress my accountant/auditor instincts (which were trained into me in the '90's by Arthur Andersen and later KPMG).

I do this because I have been a consultant for a longer period, and consultants are forward-looking rather than the historical focus of those other disciplines. However, I will from time to time find myself auditing things like expenditure and my son's spending of leisure time on gaming, for example.

Read more: Business zen: Gita reminder of need for plan
Business Zen: Locals CAN compete with big box retailers

I recently audited my Facebook page — I regularly take breaks from it — just to see if there are inadvertent trends in my postings. It appears that there are a few. Firstly I regularly tell my group of friends that Donald Trump is unfit for anything (much less the leader of the most powerful country in the world). Secondly, music and more specifically Foo Fighters-related posts are commonplace.


Thirdly, I tend to comment frequently where I see fairness and equity being compromised. Which leads me to something I posted two weeks ago against bullying, all forms of it.

Bullying has probably been around since the dawn of time, but in terms of value,
relationships and outcomes it adds absolutely nothing. It exists in the workplace as much as in everyday life. No one has put an economic price on bullying but, if it were to be calculated, it would probably be in the billions of lost productivity every year.

At some point we will all have experienced it in one form or another, from "good natured" ribbing which comes with "office banter" through to full-on threatening situations. Bullies employ many tactics to get satisfaction and feed their destructive personal agendas. And therein lies the game — bullying is individualism rather than team-based and, frankly, there is no place for it in organisations that are trying to achieve goals effectively.

I am not a psychologist, so any analysis of causation will stop here. But if you are aware of such behaviour, or even just have a "gut feel", it is important that you find an expert to assist your management of these situations.

Rather than diving into "culture" or "team building" workshops — invariably your bully types will "play the game" and go straight back to their destructive behaviours — I would suggest exploring "restorative" practices or working with peers who have successfully managed these situations.

Ensuring appropriate and effective relationships in the workplace is where true leadership is required. Invariably bullies are not strong when it comes to EQ (emotional quotient), so it is becoming more evident that recruitment particularly for management positions needs to be much more about what type of person you are putting into a leadership role. Experience and ability remains important but can only take you so far.

So, what should you be looking out for? Outright, overt bullying is easier to spot than the more destructive "wolf in sheep's clothing'" passive-aggressive type. But also listen to what staff tell you about behaviours and have an open and unbiased line of communication so destructive behaviour can be identified and dealt with. You must also protect the whistle-blower.

Bullies are out there — we need to do our best not to enable them. In that way we are more likely to have productive and happy teams and businesses.

Balance Consulting is a Whanganui consultancy specialising in business strategy, process excellence and leadership mentoring — contact Russell Bell on 021 2442421 or John Taylor on 027 4995872.