Case study 5: Giving feedback

Two individuals giving each other feedback

In most cases we tend to know when behaviour at work is bullying or undermining in nature. The problem is identifying exactly why there is a problem and what solutions might help.

A useful framework for categorising the nature of bullying and undermining, and also for exploring solutions, has been devised (Parry-Smith et al, 2015). The framework has five central themes: Behaviours, Environments, Methods, Outcomes and Solutions (BEMOS).

Examples of the concepts for each category can include:

  • Behaviours – lack of support, disrespect, humiliation
  • Environments – public, meetings, corridor
  • Methods – ad hoc, global email, bypassing decision makers, ignoring opinion
  • Outcomes – reduced confidence, increased anxiety
  • Solutions – training, coping strategies, resilience, peer support.

Using a framework can help explore the reasons and solutions to a complex problem.

Next time you see bullying and undermining, use the BEMOS framework to help reflect on the situation and plan improvements.

Feedback is crucial to workplace based behaviours. If done well it allows increased confidence and resilience in the workplace, but if done poorly it can be destructive and have negative outcomes.

This case study features two scenarios. The first shows an example of poor feedback. The second scenario gives an example of improved feedback between a consultant and a trainee, following a poor obstetric outcome on a night shift.

Parry-Smith W, Morse L, Sutherland A, et al. Bullying and undermining; a threat to both patient care and medical personnel wellbeing? A cross sectional survey of the undergraduates, trainees and consultants in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the West Midlands. MedEdPublish 2015;6:19 [subscription required].