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Matt Labrum, head football coach at Union High School in Roosevelt, Utah, learned some of his players were cyberbullying other students, skipping classes and disrespecting teachers. Labrum told the Desert News this was unacceptable. He gathered his team and suspended all of them, saying they would only earn their jerseys back after they demonstrated better character.
Labrum cancelled practice so the players could focus on character building exercises. They volunteered for community service, attended study hall and helped with chores at home. The players wrote a report about their experience and were reinstated.
“One of my weaknesses that I wrote down was that I wasn’t holding people accountable on the field and off the field," one of the football team's captains said. "As a leader, on the field and off I have to hold people accountable.”
There are many differences between leading your employees in the office and leading teenage boys on the football field. But at least one aspect of high school continues in the adult workplace — bullying.
The Workplace Bullying Institute reported in 2010 that 35 percent of workers have experienced bullying firsthand. Bullying occurs with men and women, with women-on-women bullying on the rise and victims are often too embarrassed to take action.
Like a football coach, a manager needs to be aware of not just the performance of their employees, but also the dynamics of the office. Though bullying might not be technically illegal in many cases, it can't be tolerated if you want a happy, productive workforce.
Organizations should have a clear anti-bullying policy, educate manager and workers of the affects of bullying, communicate with employees to understand office dynamics and take allegations of bullying extremely seriously, according to the Health and Safety Executive, a watchdog for work-related health, safety and illness in Britain.
Stopping inappropriate behavior, including bullying, takes leadership, which all managers and football coaches must have.
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