New California Anti-Bullying Law Puts Business Leaders On Notice

New California Anti-Bullying Law Puts Business Leaders On NoticeBy Bill Koza

Anyone reading my previous posts will notice a slant towards the negative effects of bad leadership. Bad leadership includes treating people with disrespect, humiliation, abuse and a host of other incivilities. Now, California has enacted a law, AB2053, which requires employers with 50 or more employees to include workplace bullying training to employees and supervisors.

The law defines abusive conduct as:

  • Repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets;
  • Verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating; or
  • Gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance.

The law also states that, “A single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious.”

I applaud this new law and it's long overdue.

Leaders should take note that just because you are the boss does not give you the right to mistreat the people working for you. You have not been given a free pass to treat people poorly, disrespect them and become verbally and mentally abusive towards them just because you are the boss.

I can already hear the refrains in the comments that the US is becoming a bunch of wimps and whiners. Somebody call the waaambulance. Until you have been subjected to this type of behavior you should think twice. It is not only a bad practice towards an employee, it is counterproductive. Here are some of the effects of this type of bad leadership:

  • Malicious compliance. Doing EXACTLY what the boss says to do even if it harms the company.
  • Theft. Either time theft or theft of material things from the company.
  • Lack of attention, resulting in mistakes, which causes further mistreatment, causing even more mistakes. A vicious cycle.
  • Lack of passion.
  • Lack of commitment. Causing increased absenteeism.
  • Presenteeism. The person shows up to work, but their mind is elsewhere.
  • Lack of productivity. Once someone is mistreated they waste a significant part of their day(s) telling others about their mistreatment, wasting other people’s time as well.
  • Increased health costs due to increased stress. Unfortunately, many leaders do not believe that stress actually causes health problems.
  • Toxic culture. Lots of good employees leave companies because of the culture. Culture is a direct result of leadership.
  • Reduced creativity, reduced loyalty, reduced contribution, reduced involvement, reduced teamwork, reduced value, reduced everything!

If a leader is repeatedly finding him/herself yelling at their employees or frustrated by the productivity from people, then the leader should look themselves in the mirror. You are the f****** leader. Lead! Yelling is not leading. Abusing people verbally or mentally is not leading. Not even close. You probably shouldn't even be a leader. If you are using these tactics it just means that you have probably never been trained how to lead effectively. Or if you have, the training didn’t stick. I guarantee with 100% certainty that any leadership training anyone ever attended did not include learning how to abuse people. So where does the idea that this method of leadership increases productivity come from?

It likely comes from either a prior boss (who was never trained) or from someone’s belief based on personal experience (maybe as a child, or being coached in sports), or even possibly from how bosses are typically portrayed in movies or books. Regardless of where someone learned these bad leadership skills, treating anyone (especially people at work) is not only bad for business, it is wrong.

It also seems that the very people that are against this type of law are the same ones abusing their privilege as a leader. They don’t want this law because they have yet to learn how to lead more effectively. Once a law like this is in place they think, “uh oh, I have to actually learn how to lead now?” They have a predisposition to treating people with disrespect because of their personality, or they don’t know any other way. Guess what? Leadership is hard sometimes, that’s why you get paid the big bucks. Don’t push your lack of leadership ability on to your employees. Learn how to become a more effective leader – one that people will willingly follow.

Getting things done by using abusive conduct towards employees (or co-workers) should not be tolerated. And this law puts us one step closer to minimizing this behavior in the future.

People have the right to come to work free from being tormented by their boss. One author posted that work isn’t always pleasant, that is why we get paid for it. That really sounds like he is implying that just because someone gets paid they can be abused. That is ridiculous, if that is what he’s implying. Others say that we are a free society and if you don’t like it go find another job. Really? Why does the VICTIM have to find another job? So someone else can come in and be abused too?

Here’s an idea: replace the abuser.