was successfully added to your cart.
Monthly Archives

August 2012

Workplace Bullying: Research Sheds Light on the Minds of HR Professionals

By | Workplace bullying | No Comments

workplace-bullyingSometime ago I wrote a blog post about my conversation in an online forum with HR professionals. I’m sad to say, the HR professionals I wrote about dismissed bullying, claimed I was exploiting conflict for my own profit, and said that targets are really just under performers who don’t like being called out on their performance. I wrote that post because no one else had provided any insight into the minds of HR around the topic of workplace bullying, and I was trying to shed some light on their point of view, however dark it was. But, new research has revealed how HR professionals make sense of workplace bullying – valuable information for anyone talking about this topic with their own HR manager. Interestingly, the HR managers who participated in the study did not necessarily identify with a list of bullying behaviors or consider them bullying. For these HR professionals, what did constitute bullying was:

  • Intentionality – HR is concerned with whether the bullying is actually intentional, or if the target simply perceives it that way. If the bullying is indeed intentional, they consider it bullying. If the target only perceives it as intentional, it is not bullying. In other words, during an investigation HR would try to understand the motivation behind the bullying behaviors – under the premise that most people don’t know they are bullying (and I would agree with that statement).
  • Outside confirmation – HR needs to have evidence of bullying before accusing the bully. Important outside confirmation consisted of someone else, other than the accuser, verifying the situation. For targets, this means having witnesses willing to speak up is important to making a successful complaint (i.e., being heard).
  • Getting a feeling – HR often must rely on their gut feelings when deciding whether a complaint is valid. In this study, the participants talked about the fact that they would ultimately have to “read between the lines” or “put two and two together.” For targets, this means gathering as much evidence of bullying as you possibly can, and presenting it in a logical and clear format, is going to be helpful in inspiring that gut feeling.

In addition, according to these research participants bullying did border on harassment, and they indicated that most HR professionals would likely deal with bullying in the same way that they would a complaint of harassment. According to Renee Cowan, the researcher who conducted the study, “In effect… (for HR) bullying is like harassment but is a type of harassment not clearly defined and does not, in many countries, legally rise to (that) level.” Ultimately, the HR professionals participating in the study conluded that making sense of bullying “is complicated.” They likened it to the famous Supreme Court Justice who exclaimed that he’d know porn when he sees it… it’s not always easy to clearly state one way or the other. They also claimed that because there is no general consensus on what bullying entails, and no guidelines on how to resolve it, it makes for a wide variety of interpretations.

My advice to HR: With the help of your employees, determine what behaviors are appropriate in your own workplace, and what behaviors would be considered bullying in your own workplace. Put both lists in a healthy workplace corporate policy that describes the potential rewards for engaging in appropriate behavior, and the potential consequences for bullying. Problem solved. You don’t need the law to tell you what to do – as stewards of employee engagement, you have a responsibility to your organization to take these steps. As purveyors of humans as resources, you have an obligation to your employees to set up these guidelines.

This article is a (very short) summary of this research article: Cowan, R. L. (2012). It’s Complicated: Defining Workplace Bullying From the Human Resource Professional’s Perspective. Management Communication Quarterly, 26(3), 377-403.

4 Ways to Stop Workplace Bullying

By | Workplace bullying | No Comments


Bullying is present in schools and in the workplace. Both school officials and business leaders are facing this problem. Office bullying is defined by verbal abuse, threatening behavior, intimidation, or public humiliation. The end result is that employees lose their morale and their work output suffers.

“The environment has a lot to do with why someone bullies,” says Catherine Mattice, president of Civility Partners, an organization that promotes positive workplaces. “Bullies don’t exist in a vacuum.” Heavily bureaucratic organizations promote bullying, as do fiercely competitive or rapidly changing ones. Weak leaders who don’t take a stance on bullying can also allow it to thrive. “As a leader, you have the ability to craft a culture,” Mattice says. Here are four ways to prevent bullying before it starts.

[maxbutton id=”11″]

Can You Be a Tough Boss Without Being a Jerk?

By | Leadership | No Comments


Every boss wants their employees to perform at optimal levels, but when do you cross the line? There is a fine line between being a strict boss with high expectations and being an unrealistic jerk. Mike Staver, from The Staver Group, gives four advice in order to avoid crossing the line.

“1. Appreciate different work styles. Be clear about the outcomes you expect, but don’t create conflict just because your employee has a different style of getting something done, warns Staver. “If they’re effective, give them latitude to develop their own solutions and add value,” he says. “When the leader is saying, ‘I don’t want you to do it any other way than the way I want you do to it.’ I think that’s where the ‘demanding jerk’ side comes in,” he says.”

[maxbutton id=”12″]

Local Organization Addresses LGBT Bullying by Educating Educators

By | Leadership | No Comments


Nine out of 10 LGBT students are harassed at school. LGBT students are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide, and LGBTQ students have a dropout rate three times the national average.

To make a difference in these students’ lives, The Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership (CESCaL), a San Diego-based non-profit, offers the only annual national educator conference focused on LGBTQ youth entitled, Supporting Students ~ Saving Lives. CESCaL will present the 4th annual conference at the DoubleTree Hotel in San Diego’s Mission Valley on February 15-17, 2013.

CESCaL brings in the best national LGBTQ advocacy organizations and educator associations to train, provide resources, and empower educators to create needed change in schools. Some of those organizations include: GLSEN, Trevor Project, PFLAG, True Colors Fund, American Psychological Association, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and many more.

Last year’s conference brought 500 educators from 29 states and three countries. After being mentioned in national magazines and receiving coverage from CNN, the conference was recognized by President Obama.

With all that acknowledgement, one might think educators are flocking to San Diego to attend CESCaL’s conference. Unfortunately, that is not the case. According to Vinnie Pompei, CESCaL’s Project Director and Conference Chair, “The problem is that due to harsh budget cuts in education, districts are no longer sending educators to conferences, and they are not providing needed district training on effectively working with LGBTQ students.”

Enter Catherine Mattice, an author planning a book release party. Her book, flaunting the spirited title BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, and recognized by Ken Blanchard as “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic” of workplace bullying, will hit online bookstores in September of this year. Mattice is the President of Civility Partners, LLC, a local training and consulting firm focused on ending adult bullying in the workplace.

“I combined forces with CESCaL to hold a fundraiser because I really believe in what they are doing — they are arming educators with the information they need to proactively end bullying in schools. Joining forces is a great way to help them bring educators to their conference, and to create awareness that bullying happens among adults at work too,” says Mattice.

The combined fundraiser and book release party will be held on October 4, 2012 from 6-9 pm at AT-HOM furniture store in Little Italy, at 2310 Kettner Blvd. Complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Members of the community can send educators to CESCaL’s conference by becoming a sponsor, donating to the silent auction, or bidding on items in the silent auction at the October 4 event. AT-HOM has also agreed to donate 10% of any furniture purchases made that night to CESCaL.

Several local VIP’s are expected to attend, including Kevin Beiser, the San Diego School Board member best known for pushing anti-bullying policies in schools. Another local author, Walter G. Meyer, will also be there to read an excerpt from his book, Rounding Third, a fictional story about the friendship of  two high school boys.

Get more information about the event and register at http://tinyurl.com/c2z4wgt. The event is complimentary but registration is required.

Event Details

The Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership (CESCaL) and local author Catherine Mattice are teaming up to raise funds to bring educators to the only national educator conference focused on educating educators on LGBTQ youth issues. The night will include a silent auction, book release party, complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres, and the opportunity to hob nob with local VIP’s.

What: Fundraiser and book release party

Who: CESCaL and Civility Partners, LLC

Why: To send educators to the CESCaL conference, so they can be educated in effectively helping LGBT youth, and to celebrate the release of the book BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work. BACK OFF! offers 105 tools targets of workplace bullying need to understand, report, and effectively end workplace bullying.

Information: http://tinyurl.com/c2z4wgt

Cost: Complimentary, but please register to attend

When: Thursday, October 4, 2012 from 6-9 pm

Where: AT-HOM furniture store in Little Italy, 2310 Kettner Blvd, San Diego


Dealing with Toxic Gossip at Work

By | Civil & Healthy Workplaces | No Comments



Dear Crucial Skills,

One of my main concerns at work is how we talk about each other—the staff lunchroom can be especially toxic. What feels most shocking to me is how our boss is often thrown under the bus.

I am having a hard time thinking of an appropriate comment to make as I feel that listening to these conversations implies my agreement. And I have to admit there have been times when I’ve piped up with a rude wise-crack or two, so I don’t want to seem like I’m above it all. There are times I just avoid the lunchroom and I know others do, too.

What suggestions do you have for responding to wisecracks made behind coworkers’ backs?

Staying In From the Lunch Room

How do you deal with toxic gossip at work? There will be times when rumors start to spread around the office. In such scenarios, what is the best thing to do? David Maxwell from Crucial Skills has an answer to dealing with this problem.

[maxbutton id=”13″]