Create consequences for bullying

Don’t let them off the hook

Kim Scott
2 min readJan 9, 2024

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Unless leaders create real consequences for bullying, the behavior benefits the bully at the expense of others on the team. As a leader, you have three levers at your disposal: Conversational consequences, compensation consequences and career consequences.

Let’s focus on the first one: Conversation consequences. Your first response to bullying should be to pull the bully aside and give clear feedback. They might say they were unaware they were crossing a line or simply deny it. Or, they may argue some version of “I’m doing what I have to do to get results.”

Don’t let them off the hook. Reiterate what you noticed and how it affects the team. Explain that if the behavior continues, it will be noted in their performance review and may affect compensation and even their future at your company. If the person who engaged in bullying does it again, you must follow through with the consequences you outlined. It’s equally important to follow up with people who were bullied to understand how they experienced the situation. And to let them know you have their back.

In this episode, Wesley and I discuss consequences for bullying with Ron Carucci. You can listen wherever you get your podcasts, or here: https://www.justworktogether.com/podcast-season-2

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Kim Scott

Kim Scott is the author of Radical Candor & Just Work. She is co-founder of Radical Candor, Inc which helps teams put the ideas from the book into practice.