HR Management & Compliance

Try Cross-Generational Mentoring to Tackle Workplace Bullying

Cross-generational mentorships can help with workplace bullying issues in that they can help junior employees improve communication with colleagues and senior leaders, an area that is connected to many bullying incidents. Furthermore, mentorships give junior employees a “sounding board” in their mentors—someone they can talk to about sensitive issues who will give them candid advice and feedback about a particular situation.
Tips for cross-generational mentoring programs
1. Set clear ground rules for the mentorship. Include items such as the frequency of meetings, level of confidentiality (especially important with workplace bullying), an exit plan, etc. When you talk about these things at the beginning of the mentorship, you avoid future problems and issues.
2. Assure participants small talk is good. One of the most integral keys to a successful mentoring partnership is the relationship—one in which both parties feel trust for the other. If all you’re talking about is business and careers, it may be a challenge to build that bond. Without that trust, young mentees may be reluctant to raise their concerns about bullying.
The mentor in the relationship should take the lead on this initially, as some mentees may be hesitant to stray from business discussions. Mentors can build in small talk opportunities at the start of calls to establish and maintain the personal relationship.

Did you know half of U.S. workers have been exposed to bullying or some other form of workplace harassment as either a victim or a witness? Learn how to alleviate the problem, both effectively and legally, in BLR’s October 28 webinar, “How to Prevent and Address Workplace Aggression and Bullying.” Find out more.

3. Schedule meetings, yet allow for impromptu communications. Set clear meeting times and adhere to them, as a mentorship can be derailed easily by last-minute cancellations or scheduling conflicts. At the same time, mentees should feel confident to reach out to their mentors outside of normal meetings when they have urgent questions, issues or problems. Bullying doesn’t happen on a schedule!
4. Share personal stories or insights. Depending on the nature of the relationship, mentees/mentors in a virtual relationship may find it helpful to learn more about each other, especially if the mentor has experienced bullying himself or herself. When you’re communicating exclusively via phone and e-mail, the relationship tends to feel very formal, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
5. Allow mentees to select their mentor. When it comes to sensitive issues like workplace bullying, a mentee is more likely to open up to a mentor with whom they are compatible. While a senior leader with a strong personality who challenges the mentee may be excellent for skills development, a mentee who is facing bullying issues might interpret the mentor’s behavior as bully-like.
Other mentees might like a “tough” mentor who can help them strengthen up to deal with their bullying situation. A self-matching system can be easily implemented with the use of mentoring program technology, such as Mentor Scout.
Bottom line on bullying
Whether a situation warrants the label of bullying or not, the feeling of being bullied is real and it impacts the effectiveness of the workplace. Employees young and old can feel picked on, making showing up for work each day a struggle. It helps to have a trusted confidante of someone with maturity and experience to help manage through these difficult situations. It takes time to develop thick skin, and a helpful mentor can provide life-lasting skills in this area.
Beth N. Carvin is president and CEO of Nobscot Corp., whose Mentor Scout division ( provides Web-based software for large companies and association mentoring programs. Kerrie Main is Nobscot’s communications manager. Carvin can be reached at, and Main can be reached at

Don’t let workplace bullying hurt your organization. Join us at a BLR webinar on October 28 to learn “How to Prevent and Address Workplace Aggression and Bullying.”
Learn more.

We hope you find the information in this article useful if you decide to participate in the upcoming Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week, which occurs from October 19 to 25. There is more helpful information at the official website:
Make Antibullying Your Official Policy
Half of U.S. workers have been exposed to bullying or some other form of workplace harassment as either a victim or a witness. It’s so widespread that HR managers must now respond to claims of workplace bullying and mobbing — even at the supervisory level. It’s not something that you can take lightly, and failure to handle a situation correctly can lead to unhappy employees, an unhealthy work environment, thousand of dollars in lost productivity and costly lawsuits.
Employees aren’t sitting back and waiting for bosses to solve their problems. They are asking employers to address workplace bullying, and in some cases, such as the backers of the “Healthy Workplace Bill”, they are seeking legislation.
Don’t let workplace bullying hurt your organization. Learn how to develop and maintain a workplace culture that protects employee health, reduces litigation risks and promotes both productivity and profitability.
“How to Prevent and Address Workplace Aggression and Bullying”
Webinar coming Tuesday, October 28, 2014
1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern / 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Pacific
Join us October 28 when our presenters, a seasoned workplace consultant/ therapist who has authored books on workplace bullying and abuse and an employment attorney, will examine the causes of workplace bullying, how to identify workplace bullying and mobbing in your ranks, and what to do to alleviate the problem, both effectively and legally.
You’ll learn:

  • How to recognize and understand workplace mobbing and bullying
  • Real-life examples of workplace bullying that will help you identify and respond to difficult situations
  • The psychological and physical health impacts workplace mobbing and bullying could have on your employees
  • The economic toll bullying takes on your organization, including the psychological and physical health impact on employees, absenteeism, increased leaves of absence and workers compensation claims, as well as the turnover costs and damage to your reputation
  • How workplace mobbing and bullying impact work performance
  • Who should report workplace bullying
  • The top legal issues to be conscious of when it comes to bullying in the workplace
  • Tips for developing an anti-bullying policy
  • How to use your anti-bullying policy as a prevention tool
  • Investigatory procedures from start to finish
  • And much, much more

Click here to register now!
In just 90 minutes, you’ll learn what causes workplace bullying, how to identify workplace bullying and mobbing in your ranks, and what to do to alleviate the problem, both effectively and legally.

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