For those who know me well, they know the issue of bullies in the workplace is an issue very close to my heart. It is amazing how much bullies can suck the motivation out of a team and how this can have a direct impact on performance. You can hire the most competent people on the planet, but if you subject them to bullies, you will ruin them.

A startling 37% of American workers — roughly 54 million people — have been bullied at work according to a 2007 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute. The consequences of such bullying spreading to the targets’ families, coworkers, and organizations. Costs include reduced creativity, low morale, and increased turnover — all factors that weigh heavily on the bottom line.

Among targets of bullying, 40% never told their employers and, of those who did, 62% reported that they were ignored. This suggests there’s a significant opportunity to increase profits and beat the competition by eliminating the prevalence of workplace bullying in your organization. But how?

The first step is to identify the root of the problem.

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