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On Farm Bullying - How to AVOID and STOP

Are you being bullied or fear you may be one?

Recently Stu Taylor shared a fictional story showcasing how easy it can be to become "An Accidental Bully". In response, we shared some critical definitions to answer the questions, "wait, so what is bullying and what is 'just having a laugh'?"

As a team we felt the need to identify what to do if you find yourself on either side of this unfortunate coin.

Racquel Cleaver of AgriPeople has pulled together strategic courses of actions for you if you are being bullied, or fear you may be an accidental bully.

Are You Being Bullied?

Being bullied can leave us questioning our self-worth​. If you feel you are being bullied, here are some strategic steps for navigating this stressful time. In a perfect world, these actions may create an opportunity for your negative situation to transform into a positive working environment.

Step 1: Confide

Before you do anything else, CONFIDE in someone outside of the workplace. As we shared previously, being bullied can be a traumatic experience so identifying a trusted, level-headed, confidential third party is important. If you think you may lack access to these types of people, the Citizens Advice Bureau is a strong starting point and may be able to refer you to appropriate support services.

Step 2: Address The Issue

Does your bully know they are a bully? It may sound crazy but a lot of the time bullies don’t actually realize what they are doing. Perhaps they have only ever been treated the way they are treating you so from their perspective their inappropriate behaviour is normal. Remember, this doesn’t make it right and we are NOT excusing their behaviour.

Request a meeting with your Manager to informally discuss your concerns at the earliest possible point of the bullying. If your Manager or Employer is your bully, then you can still have that brave conversation but it is wise to do so with third party support. During this meeting you need to be clear as you express what specific behaviours affect you and impact your work.

Step 3: Formal Complaint

If the bullying behaviour continues then you can make a formal complaint to your employer who is obliged to investigate the situation.

If your Employer is the bully and the bullying is severe without any signs of change, then it may be in your best interests to take some time away from the workplace. We suggest seeking additional professional advice in regards to taking other action, like a personal grievance for example.

Step 4: Keep Safe

Throughout any case of bullying, the most important thing is to KEEP YOURSELF SAFE. Make sure you are well supported and remove yourself from any situation that becomes overwhelming. Often after episodes of workplace bullying, the victim can be left with poor mental health and negative self-image. This can then go on to affect further employment and personal relationships.

If the situation persists, seek help from a professional as quickly as possible to keep your mind strong and decision making sound.

For more information refer to Bullying Prevention Toolbox.

Are you an Accidental Bully?

If you’ve read our previous blog and fear you may be an accidental bully then, good news - you are one step closer to change. Good on you for identifying this issue. Where to from here?

Step 1: Be Open and Honest

Arrange conversational reviews with your team to discuss roles, goals, and feelings. Disclose you are working on yourself as a Manager and ask for feedback.

Note: sometimes once we identify we could be a bully, having a conversation with our team could be daunting. The behaviours we display as a bully may quickly present again when we ask our team for feedback and we are faced with our weaknesses. It take a strong person to confront these issues.

With this in mind, confide in a trusted third party outside of your team; let them know your concerns about your management and potential bullying and get them to hold you accountable to change.

Step 2: Work Out Your Why

Why are we really using bully behaviour? It's an old saying that hurt people often hurt people. Perhaps you are not necessarily hurt but is there something you are not happy within yourself, your environment, or your life that is causing you to feel negatively towards our teams or perhaps take their actions personally? Engaging a professional coach, counsellor or professional or this process may prove beneficial.

Step 3: Action the Feedback

You can use the feedback from the team and support people to develop a change plan. This plan will detail how to react when you begin to feel or hear your triggers. Everyone’s plan will be unique but you can be confident in having something concrete to refer to in the future.

Step 4: Review and Improve

Nothing is perfect and changing the way we interact with people is never an easy task. It's brave, but not easy.

If we can identify where we are going wrong, the impact it is having on our team + ourselves, and how we are going to change we are half way there. The next step is to make sure we are checking in with team members to see how they are feeling about new interaction style.

MYTH: Taking these steps will mean relinquishing any responsibility, respect, or ownership as a Manager.

FACT: By being transparent and open, there is a good chance you will gain respect from your team and the community around you.

Employment issues and disciplinary action will still occur as required if you are a Manager but hopefully, (once your bully free) you can deal with any issues that present from a neutral and respectful place – regardless of how team members may have behaved or treated you. You've got this.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to email

Racquel Cleaver is on the Millennium Farming team and the Managing Director of Agri People Solutions Limited based in the North Island.

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