This is one of the recommendations from the ‘unit, trust and local education provider’ section of the RCOG/RCM undermining toolkit.
Role of leaders and managers in embedding a positive culture
The Illing report provides clear evidence of the important role of leaders and managers in addressing bullying and undermining. Exemplary role models are crucial, particularly the CEO and senior executive leaders.
Good organisations focus on employee wellbeing. The organisational climate is strongly influenced by managers’ behaviour, values and commitment to supporting (or not) the wellbeing of staff. The Illing report identifies that interventions are more likely to succeed if leadership commitment is present, and fail when it is absent.
Research by Manchester University shows that success depends on managers committing to the following:
- The right to work in an environment free of harassment, bullying and intimidation
- The seriousness of the problem (potential for disciplinary action, including dismissal; potential unlawful/criminal offence)
- Policy must apply to all employees, managers, workers and individuals sub-contracted or seconded to work for the organisation
- All employees have responsibility for complying with the policy
- Managers are responsible for implementing policies
- No recriminations/victimisation
- Focus on a standard of conduct
Managers’ actions are also integral to a trust/hospital’s success in this area. Managers and supervisors have an obligation to deal promptly and effectively with any incidents of bullying or harassment that they seek out or are brought to their attention.
The Dignity At Work Policy, from which most NHS organisations’ policies are derived, sets out the key responsibilities of managers and supervisors:
- Explain the Dignity at Work Policy to all employees and ensure that they understand their roles and responsibilities and how the complaints procedure operates
- Explain the Policy and complaints procedure to new employees as part of their induction
- Monitor the behaviour of new employees during their probationary period to ensure compliance with the Policy
- Promote awareness of the Policy among employees on an ongoing basis
- Communicate the Policy to non-employees (e.g. ensure posters and leaflets are prominently displayed and copies of the Policy are readily available)
- Set a good example by treating all employees and any other person with whom they come into contact in the workplace with courtesy and respect
- Be vigilant for signs of bullying and harassment and intervene before a problem escalates
- Respond sensitively to any employee who makes a complaint of bullying or harassment
- Respond promptly and discreetly to requests from employees to intervene and seek to resolve the matter informally where appropriate
- Facilitate Support Contact Persons (see Appendix 1 of the Policy for details) to carry out their role
- Ensure that employees are not victimised for making a complaint of bullying or harassment in good faith