The Complex Dynamics in Team Bullying

A four-part article focusing on the complex dynamics at play in team bullying, dynamics which can make it challenging for even an experienced and well-intentioned investigator to come to a just conclusion.

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This is the first of a four-part series that comes out of my work with issues around one-to-one and team bullying over the past 25 years. During that time I have successfully coached many clients to recover from the trauma of being bullied by a team colleague. Only a minority of them raised a complaint about the bully’s campaign against them. However, none of the investigations found in their favour, adding greatly to their distress. In this first part article I am going to set the scene by exploring the complicated dynamics that constitute team bullying. You can read the rest of this article here: 


This second part of this four-part series focuses on the impact of team bullying on the target and team dynamics. Many targets of bullying experience tumbling self-belief, plummeting self-confidence and increasing self-doubt. Some targets come to the conclusion that they are not competent in their roles even though they were top performers before the campaign against them commenced. Others start to question their value as a person. Targets often feel isolated, even abandoned, especially in circumstances where team colleagues don’t speak against the bullying at the time it occurs or don’t offer them support after an attack. In these cases targets can feel more betrayed by the apparent nonchalance of their colleagues than by the bully’s behavior.  You can read the rest of this article here:    


The third part of this four-part series focuses on a realistic fictional case study on team bullying. My aims for the case study are to highlight the need for investigators to be well-informed and insightful about the complicated dynamics that play out both in teams where bullies operate and during an investigation itself. 

Presentation and Pretence: A Case Study

The team leader is an experienced professional and technically able but is a poor communicator and not skilled at managing people. Before joining her current employer she worked in a process-oriented environment, which compensated for her lack of people-handling skills. But in her current team she works in an unstructured unit managing eight bright and interpersonally-able professionals.  You can read the rest of this article here:   


The fourth part of this four-part series concludes the case study. The case study focuses on the trickery of the team leader accused of team bullying, and the need for vigilance by the investigator in his dealings with her. The allegations against her involve her use of bullying behaviour in her one-to-one dealings with team members while she is ‘nice’ and ‘friendly’ to them in group environments.

We dive back into the action at the point when the investigator is meeting with the team leader following the complaint against her. Let’s explore two further ways she could handle this meeting, each of which shifts the discussion away from her bullying into territory that either lessens her responsibility or suggests that the investigator is misguided.

Tactic One: Pretence

The team leader feigns concern for the team members who have complained about her. Adopting an apparently sympathetic and sweet-natured demeanour, she tells the investigator she is concerned that some members of her team are under significant work pressure and looking for a get-out clause.  You can read the rest of this article here:

Aryanne Oade

chartered psychologist, executive coach, author and publisher, Oade Associates Ltd

Hello and welcome to my blog. I specialize in handling challenging workplace dynamics, successfully working from the premise that the additional resources you seek are already within you. My aim is to be a catalyst so you can turn areas where you feel under-resourced or vulnerable into skills and strengths, become resilient in the face of adversity, and develop a life and work experience you are passionate about. Working from the evidence-base of psychology, and over twenty-five years’ experience, clients tell me they experience my coaching and books as insightful, practical, non-judgmental and empathic. My work on recovery from bullying and bully-proofing has been featured in leading publications such as The Independent, Irish Independent (Sunday), Psychologies, Good Housekeeping and Marie Claire. Learn more at