Yesterday’s post was from my newly qualified midwife friend, Laura Godfrey-Isaacs. Today's follows on with her advice about what to do when bullying behaviour comes up in practice.
'I learned a lot from this incident and my subsequent research into the issues and I now employ mechanisms and strategies to deal with undermining or bullying behaviour when I experience it myself, and have become more aware of the potential stress points that may lead to this behaviour. I am personally more assertive, so that some potential situations can be avoided, and have undertaken some online training: the RCOG Toolkit (2015), the RCM I-Learn module (2016), RCOG Improving Workplace Behaviour (2015), NHS Choices – Bullying at Work (2014) and referenced several articles and reports, such as, ‘Bullying – the Writings on the Wall (Astrup, 2015) about interventions on an individual level. Therefore, if an incident like this occurs again I would tend to raise the issue with the perpetrator directly to alert her to the impact of her behaviour and consider the potential to escalate it and involve more senior staff, if necessary. If individuals do not highlight this sort of behaviour, it will go unchecked, and the perpetrator may not even be aware of the impact on others, and the culture it promotes. Those individuals that have formed negative patterns of behaviour may need additional training and support to understand the issues, their responsibilities and how to change the way they interact.
At a group and organizational level, I am more used to a ‘flat hierarchy’ in the workplace (having previously worked in the arts) and therefore have found the overly hierarchical nature of maternity (particularly on the labour ward) difficult to resolve personally. I would like to be involved in trying to address the problems this can create for an individual’s agency and autonomy, and the risk it sets up for bullying and undermining behaviour. Therefore, I really welcome the Midwife Diaries’ initiatives to tackle bullying in midwifery, and would like to be involved in the future in any moves to create a non-bullying culture, wherever I work, seeking further training to become a Champion and support colleagues who are experiencing this problem.'
Hands up who’d like Laura as a mentor!
The best bit? I’ve met many other midwives just like Laura who really want the culture to change.
I think this illustrates really well that it’s not the victim of bullying’s fault, it’s the system. To be a really effective and safe a midwife, you need assertiveness strategies.
We’ll most definitely be discussing what other midwives do at the Kindness Conference!
To kindness in midwifery,
P.S. Do you have any specific strategies to share for addressing undermining behaviour? Hit reply and let us know!