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Gaslighting: The Silent Killer of Workplace Culture

Imagine an employee, highly motivated, driven, and passionate about work, who consistently delivers high-quality results for the team. Despite all this hard work, however, something still seems off. Every time they achieve success, their boss swoops in and takes all the credit. When things go wrong, he finds himself singled out and blamed, his ideas belittled, achievements dismissed, and requests for support ignored.

These mind games, the constant belittling, and the endless shifting of blame here, are all part of a larger, insidious pattern of workplace gaslighting in action.

Amidst the tumultuous winds of economic chaos, the rising tide of layoffs, and the year-end frenzy, this silent yet powerful force plays a vital role in nurturing workplace toxicity, making it increasingly difficult for organizations to thrive and succeed.

Strategies that organizations can adopt to combat gaslighting at workplace:

According to a poll by LinkedIn, about 58% of employees experienced gaslighting at work in one form or another. In this employee driven era, where employees wield more power and choice than ever before, creating a meaningful employee experience throughout their journey has become imperative for organizations striving towards success. Below are some of the effective tactics that businesses can adopt to fight these situations:

1. Effective Training :

It is crucial for managers and seniors to understand that gaslighting is not an innate characteristic, similar to an employee’s introverted or extroverted tendencies. With the right training and guidance, leaders and managers can master the necessary skills to lead their team and showcase their abilities, without resorting to harmful psychological manipulation techniques.

Leadership and behavioral training for senior managers can ensure they model right ethical behavior and effectively resolve conflicts to lead and manage their team. Immersive workshops on stress management, strength based development, conflict resolution, coaching and effective communication to mention a few can be implemented to provide them with a map to effectively deal with gaslighting situations.

2. Policies and Procedures :

Having a workplace policy that deals with either harassment or dignity at work and ensures all kinds of unwanted conduct can be eradicated can often act as a good starting point to address gaslighting! Organizations should go even one step further and involve their employees in the policy-making process. This will ensure that each policy reflects the unique needs and experiences of all employees giving them a sense of ownership and buy-in in the same.

A strategic approach is to form a cross-functional team that includes representatives from different departments and levels within the organization to draft policies collaboratively.

3. Comprehensive Surveys & Assessments :

Just like a medical check-up is necessary to monitor one’s physical health, consistent assessments and surveys are necessary to monitor the health of an organization. These tools provide an opportunity for employees to provide honest and confidential feedback, enabling organizations to identify situations where gaslighting has or can take place.

Psychometric assessments like 16pf, 360 degree feedback can help organizations identify employees who have the potential to engage in negative behaviors like gaslighting by evaluating their behaviors and skills in real-life situations. Additionally, Organizational Diagnostic surveys can allow employees to share their honest feedback about their experiences without the fear of retaliation. Moreover, when employees feel valued and heard, they are less likely to engage in gaslighting behaviors.

4. Develop a culture of openness, trust, and collaboration :

Developing a culture where employees are comfortable to talk to one another about anything can help in reducing negative behaviors like gaslighting. Organizations in its drive to become truly transparent will require its leaders to manifest their own transparency and encourage it in attitudes and behaviors of team members.

Creating and embracing open channels of communication and feedback to foster an environment of trust and collaboration is in itself a significant endorsement of a workplace that does not tolerate gaslighting. Organizations that constitute openness, trust and collaboration as a part of their culture and values can create a positive and empowering workforce thereby decreasing the chances of having a gaslighter.

Shutting Down Gaslighting at Workplace :

As we embark on this new fiscal year, it is crucial to acknowledge that gaslighting can happen to anyone, anywhere, and unfortunately, the workplace is no exception. Today’s workforce not only chooses to work for organizations that value their contributions, but also respect them as individuals. Allowing employees who continue to gaslight to be a part of your company will only drive your valuable employees away.

A proper implementation of these organizational strategies can act as a secret potion in creating a magical workplace where everyone feels happy, productive, and respected. Start by analyzing if you are creating a healthy, psychologically safe, dynamic work environment and culture that is allowing your employees to thrive!

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