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How to deal with bullying in the workplace…

Unfortunately bullying isn’t just confined to the school playground. For many bullying in the workplace is a reality and something they have to endure on a daily basis.  As the recent expose of Harvey Weinstein has shown someone in a position of power has the ability to use that power to their advantage, to bully and abuse those perceived as being below them.

The Weinstein case is thankfully an extreme example, but bullying in the workplace can take many forms and in today’s technology laden world it doesn’t even have to happen face to face.

So what do you do if you’re being bullied or how do you handle a bully within your team?

What constitutes bullying in the workplace

Bullying can come in various shapes and sizes and doesn’t necessarily always come from those above you. A few examples are, being insulted or intentionally embarrassed, having rumours spread about you, being ignored or excluded, being overworked as well as threatening behaviour, unwanted advances, harassment and having any promotions or development blocked or hindered.

However it is important to understand the difference between bullying and performance management.  Being criticised for poor performance, as long as it’s done in a professional manner, isn’t bullying.  Bullying happens over a period of time rather than being an isolated incident.

I’m being bullied what can I do?

  1. Talk to them… They may perceive it as harmless banter or innocent teasing and not realise the affect their actions are having on you.  If you don’t feel comfortable approaching them on your own, ask a colleague to come with you. While this might not always solve the issue, a large number of workplace conflicts can be resolved without taking formal action.
  2. Speak to your manager – If talking to them isn’t an option or it doesn’t help then you need to take it further. Speak to your line manager or HR department. Explain how their actions are affecting you and if you have it, take evidence such as emails or perhaps a colleague with you who can back up your claims.
  3. Keep your cool – It may be hard but try to remain professional and not stoop to their level. Whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence and wait too long to speak up.

A member of my team is being bullied what should I do?

  1. Follow procedures – all organisations should have a bullying policy and procedures in place. Check your organisations definition of acceptable behaviour and the steps that need to be taken should bullying be reported
  2. Be sensitive, seek additional information and remain objective – speak to those involved to gather more information as to what has been happening, it maybe a case of the aggressor underestimating the effect of their actions or it might be something more serious. Speak to each party separately and whatever you personal feelings towards each, keep these out of it and remain impartial and objective.
  3. Action plan – create a plan for the future with steps to help resolve the issue. This could be a simple code of conduct and agreement of acceptable behaviour by both parties, or something more formal such reassigning one or both members of staff.  Make it clear to all involved the consequences should the bullying continue.

To reduce any bullying in the workplace, as an employer try to foster a culture of inclusion, of open and honest communication.  While there is bound to be a certain level of teasing and joking within an organisation make it clear what acceptable behaviour looks like and don’t make any exceptions.

‘How to deal with bullying in the work place…’ was written by Ian Gooden, CEO Chiumento Group. If you like what you’ve read why not follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and read all our future advice and musings on the world of work.

CBI interviews – what are they and how to conduct them

The interview process can be nerve wracking, and not just for candidates.  It can be just as hard for those on the other side of the table…  As an interviewer you need to be able to assess in a relatively short period of time whether the candidate is the right person for your organisation.  It’s no easy task, luckily there are many tools and techniques to help you make the right decision.

Competency based interview techniques are one such tool, they have grown in popularity over the past decade and for many, are now part of the standard interview process.  But if you’re new to interviewing, they can be hard to master as often feel a little stilted and very formal.  Don’t let this put you off, they are a fantastic assessment tool.

They originated from the need for a way to assess inexperienced graduates, where simply talking through a CV and asking relevant questions wasn’t possible. The questions are structured in a such a way as to assess how past behaviour might be a good indicator of future behaviour.

Pick your competencies

Before you start, you need to decide on the core skills or abilities you require and base questions on these.  For example, individual competencies such as being able to work in a highly pressurised environment, analytical competencies, having the ability to analyse statistics or managerial competencies like the ability to motivate a team.  Other competencies could include interpersonal or motivational ones. Remember to ensure that those you pick are relevant to the role and your organisation.

Write your questions

The questions you ask should be open ended and detailed enough that you can gauge from the answer how well the candidate demonstrates that competency. Where possible add additional layers to the questions to allow for a more in-depth response. For example to assess how well candidates cope with multi-tasking and working in a busy environment.  ‘Working at XX can be very busy and pressurised at times, can you tell me about a time when you’ve had to manage numerous projects, how you dealt with conflicting priorities and resolved any issues?’…


With CBI interviewing the aim is to make the process fair for all those involved and give as impartial a view as possible.  Before you start decide on a scoring system, be it 1-5 or 1-10 and set scores accordingly.  For example, a score of 1-3 for poor demonstration of a competency, 4-7 for average and 8-10 for above average. Each interviewer marks the candidate’s response and take notes.  These are then added together giving an overall score for each candidate.  If certain competencies are more important than others, then these can be weighted accordingly with scores for these questions being doubled for example.


While CBI interviews are a great way of assessing and scoring a candidate’s ability they are very formal and don’t necessarily allow for time to get to know the candidate on a more personal level.  Don’t be afraid to adapt the process to suit you and the needs of your organisation.  Start the interview with a more relaxed informal chat, this will help to put both you and the candidate at ease before the more technical interview starts.  Or you can use it as an additional stage either before/after a less structured interview.

However you decide to run your interview don't forget that it is a two way process.  You need to impress the candidate and sell your organisation to them, as much as they need to sell themselves to you.

If you like what you’ve read why not follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and read all our future advice and musings on the world of work, or you can read our previous blogs on employment related topics by clicking on the images below.

For more information on how we can help with any of your people needs from outplacement and talent management to recruitment please get in touch.



Personal branding: will social media come back to haunt me?

In the age of the internet you can’t afford to forget about personal branding when job hunting. I was listening to the radio the other day and heard a really interesting statistic: apparently over 50% of employers in London openly admit to checking potential recruits’ social media activities before making hiring decisions. As I’ve subsequently discovered, that’s not exactly latest news. The Daily Telegraph reported some similar statistics way back in 2010.

When job hunting you do have to be acutely aware of your personal brand – ie the image you create in the minds of others. And the key word is image. Potential employers are unlikely to get to know you in great depth even during an extended assessment process. Instead they will be seeing lots of dots and joining them up to build a picture of you.

How accurate that picture is can depend on a lot of factors. If they’ve only used interviews – and they often do – then the picture may not be very accurate at all. Research repeatedly shows that interviews are a very unreliable way of predicting future job performance.

Given interviews are so unreliable, it is perhaps not surprising employers look for other sources of information too. Years ago, the main source of that insight would have been references. However today references frequently contain little more than a confirmation of the dates you worked for someone and your last job title. Many companies decline to make any qualitative comment about the individual.

What that has done is create a vacuum of information. A vacuum that some hiring managers – with or without their employer’s knowledge – will seek to fill with information from other sources. And where else do they turn but the internet.

Now if you are lucky and have a common name – like John Smith – and live in a big city the chances are they will be so overloaded by Google “hits” that they will probably never find you. However, those of us with less common names – especially if we live in small towns or villages – will be much easier to track. If you’ve not done it recently we strongly recommend you do Google yourself so you know what others will see…

What those Google searches will often throw up are links not just to “business” sites like LinkedIn but also links to social media profiles like Facebook. And that’s where great care is required. Many employers will not make the distinction between you at work and you in the wider world. They will care about how you conduct yourself generally and may, rightly, consider some behaviours and activities to be inconsistent with their values, ethics and business brand. Many companies take the view that even when not at work their employees’ behaviours and actions reflect on them.

What will also shoot you in the foot is if you are in the habit of publicly criticising your current employer or boss on social media. Today them, tomorrow us.

So, before you start job hunting clean up your social media act. The first obvious step is to activate privacy controls so that only friends you recognise can see your photographs, stories, comments and updates. Only recently we heard of a case where someone in-advisedly checked-in on Facebook from a hotel in Spain when they were supposedly off sick… Stupid yes, career damaging definitely.

If you decide to leave your Facebook etc open to the world then you need to treat your account to a serious reality check. Or better still ask someone to do it for you. Ideally someone who is very sensitive to reputation issues and will have the courage to tell you that those hen weekend or stag night photos do your personal brand no favours at all. If in doubt, delete it.

The internet pioneer Sir Tim Berners-Lee once famously said “Imagine that everything you are typing is being read by the person you are applying to for your first job. Imagine that it’s all going to be seen by your parents and your grandparents and your grandchildren as well”.
Great advice. Don’t forget personal branding, don’t allow your social media presence to get in the way of a great job opportunity.

‘Personal branding… will social media come back to haunt me??’ was written by Ian Gooden, CEO Chiumento Consulting. If you like what you’ve read why not follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and read all our future advice and musings on the world of work.

Making first impressions count

Making first impressions count is vital when looking for a new role. Before they meet you most employers will take have built a picture of you from a variety of sources. They will have looked at your CV and probably your LinkedIn profile. They may have received a summary from a recruitment agent.  Of course they will take everything into account before they decide on who to hire – your experience, potential, cultural fit and so on. But the interview is the key to landing the role.

Whether it lasts 30 mins or 2 hours, you should not under estimate the importance of the first impression you make. However objective the selection process is, human beings tend to make quick judgements when they meet people so it is important you make a great first impression. By doing this, you get a head start before the real questions even begin.

Here are my five top tips to making first impressions count:

  1. Arrive in good shape

Plan what you’re going to wear and get it ready the night before. Even if there is only the slightest chance of rain, make sure you are prepared. The more you plan, the more relaxed you’ll feel on the day. And it may sound obvious, but make sure you know where you’re going. Have you double-checked the address? Plan your route. If you’re driving, is there parking? And give yourself plenty of time, especially if you’re travelling on public transport. Allow for at least one bus or train to be cancelled. It’s always good to grab a coffee or a water before you go in. This will give you a chance to calm down and think about the interview ahead. Before you leave, go to the loos to check how you look.

  1. Warm up

An interview is a performance. And if you think about it, performers always warm up before a big event. Actors and singers will tell you that they warm their focal chords before they go on stage and there’s a very good reason for this. Stress and nerves cause the muscles in the body to tighten and this includes the vocal chords. It’s why people often cough and splutter when they are nervous. You can avoid this by warming up your vocal chords before you arrive for your interview. Choose your favourite tongue twister and repeat it out loud. Don’t worry about looking odd. I remember walking up and down Wimbledon High Street one morning saying, “Ken Dodd’s Dog’s Deaf” out loud. You’d be surprised how few looks I got!

  1. Prepare for ‘small talk’

Treat everybody as though they are interviewing you. From the receptionist to the person who picks you up in reception. It’s worth remembering that the person who meets you in reception could well be your interviewer. Be polite and positive to everybody you meet. Don’t, for example, talk about the terrible journey you’ve had or how difficult the building was to find, even if it’s all true. Don’t huff and puff if you have to wait at reception to be signed in. You must set out to impress everyone so think about your ‘small talk’ before you arrive. The questions you’ll ask on the way to the interview room.

  1. The dreaded hand shake

This is a case of ‘not too hard and not too soft’. Getting the balance right is important. Some people think the firmer the better because it shows self-confidence. Whether that’s true or not, you don’t want to crush your interviewer’s fingers before they’ve asked their first question. Equally, a ‘lifeless’ hand is not a pleasant experience for the recipient. If you’re in any doubt, practice with friends or family.

  1. Owning the space

When you enter the interview room you’ll probably be shown where to sit. If not, ask. Make sure you settle yourself. Get your CV, notepad and pen out. If you’re offered water, take it. If you’re offered tea or coffee, ask for water instead. It is much easier to sip water during an interview than drink tea or coffee and it will be much more helpful in keeping you lubricated – a dry mouth is another symptom of nerves. Your interviewer(s) will be looking at you as well as listening to you so remember posture will have an impact. Sit up and straight and don’t fidget. Oh, and one final point, make sure your phone is switched off.

‘Making first impressions count?’ was written by Mike Burgneay, MD Chiumento Consulting. If you like what you’ve read why not follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and read all our future advice and musings on the world of work.


Networking for job seekers – top 5 tips

Networking is one of the most effective activities if you are looking a new role and is a skill every job seeker should develop.  Networking has a number of advantages. It can help you find out about jobs before they are widely advertised. Often jobs aren’t advertised at all and networking is an effective way of finding these ‘hidden’ opportunities.

It can certainly give you an edge in the recruitment process if you are approaching a company via a referral or personal introduction rather than ‘going in cold’.

Networking includes a multitude of activities; it could be attending meetings at a professional institute or a conference/seminar/exhibition. It could be reaching out and connecting with previous colleagues, customers, competitors and suppliers. LinkedIn is a brilliant way to research and connect with people who may be able to help you.

The chances are, you are probably networking a lot more than you think!

My five top networking tips are:

  1. Create a directory of your network. Think about the people you’ve worked with, old bosses, customers, suppliers, associates and other people that you know. Create a list and then rank contacts by how valuable you think they will be to you and how comfortable you feel approaching them. It’s a good idea to practice. This will help you get in the swing of networking and will build your confidence. Start with people you feel very comfortable getting in contact with but who may not beat the top of the ‘value to me’ list. This means if things don’t go according to plan you haven’t wasted a great networking contact.
  2. Plan ahead and work out what you want to achieve from networking conversations. Are you looking for more introductions? Can they advise you on your CV or introduce to someone who is hiring? Can they suggest any organisations that might be looking for new talent? Can they give you advice or information about a particular sector?
  3. Get your elevator pitch right. When you’re networking you’ll probably only get a short amount of time with someone. If you meet somebody at an event you may only have a few minutes. It’s really important you can describe yourself succinctly and confidently. This is your ‘elevator pitch’ and should only take 20-30 seconds.  “I help companies grow sales and profits” sounds so much better than “I am a business development manager” and immediately conveys the value you can add to a business.
  4. Reciprocate. This is one of the golden rules of networking. Many people will be open to sharing their ideas and occasionally their contacts with you but you must be willing to offer your help and advice in return. If you aren’t willing to reciprocate you may find that people are less willing to help you.
  5. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and complete. Connect with relevant people. Join relevant groups and contribute to discussions. It’s important to make sure that your LinkedIn profile matches your CV.

‘Networking for job seekers?’ was written by Mike Burgneay, MD Chiumento Consulting. If you like what you’ve read why not follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and read all our future advice and musings on the world of work.