In a rather disheartening study, a team of researchers led by Darren C. Treadway, of the University at Buffalo School of Management, found that many workplace bullies receive positive evaluations from their supervisors and achieve high levels of career success, despite organizational efforts to curtail bullying.
The researchers sought to study the relationship between workplace bullying and job performance. They collected behavioral and job-performance data from 54 employees of a U.S. health-care firm, and found a strong correlation between bullying, positive job evaluations and social and political skill in the workplace.
The study defines workplace bullying as “systematic aggression and violence targeted towards one or more individuals by one individual or by a group.”
The researchers found that many bullies thrive by charming their supervisors and manipulating others to help them get ahead, even while they abuse their co-workers. Because many bullies can “possess high levels of social ability,” they are “able to strategically abuse co-workers and yet be evaluated positively by their supervisor,” the authors write.
“If people are politically skilled, they can do bad things really well,” says Dr. Treadway.
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