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Monthly Archives

October 2015

Workplace bullying ‘still stings’ years after the incident happened

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An article in The Telegraph titled “I was bullied out of the job I loved” caught my attention the other day.  It recounted the experience of an employee who was bullied at work.  However, the workplace bullying was subtle and it wasn’t enough to warrant a case be filed against the workplace bully.

In this case, the employee was subjected to the negative behavior of a bully boss.  The examples of the bullying that the victim recounted included exclusion and seemingly light-hearted jokes or comments, which actually undermined and questioned the victim’s authority and expertise.  Sometimes a few sarcastic comments were thrown out during meetings which affected the victim’s standing and reputation.  These examples may not sound like abuse, but still, these instances are the most common occurrences at the workplace.  It also is the most damaging.

In this case, the workplace bullying victim decided to leave the organization after noticing that the bully boss’ sly antics affected the victim’s reputation and area of responsibility.  The employee who was bullied at work was given less and less assignments, until a new person was sent in to oversee the bully victim’s work.  This eventually pushed the workplace bullying victim to quit the job.  However, years after the incident happened, the victim admitted that the situation “still stings.”

This is a normal reaction from bully victims.  The trauma of being a target of a work place bully remains with the individual for several years, and sometimes forever.


To read more about the bully victim’s story, click here to read the full article.

Guarding your dreams against workplace bullies

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When an employee starts off with a new job or even joins the workforce for the first time, that person is usually filled with excitement, along with a healthy dose of nervousness and apprehension.  The new employee is typically brimming with ideas and is all set to prove the company that he or she is a good hire.  However, most of these feelings go away for unlucky employees who would encounter workplace bullies.

Bullies, and other employees, would usually assess a new joiner’s skills and strengths.  However, if the bully feels that the new hire’s capabilities are a threat, then they would try to take control of the situation by displaying negative behavior.  It can be in the form of subtle workplace bullying or very overt actions such as verbal abuse.  At times, the employee who is bullied at work would be forced to do things that the bully wanted. These actions may or may not be good to the company.  It also sometimes affect the reputation of the bullied employee at work.

So how could one overcome these workplace bullies? According to this article (click here) a new employee should seek out a good mentor is key.  It would also help if that mentor is someone who can help deflect or take bullets for their staff members, or willing to spend time to develop and further grow talents in the company.

To learn more, click here to read the full article.

Workplace bullying conference sheds light on the issue

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On October 23, the National Workplace Bullying Coalition (NWBC) held a workplace bullying conference at Shippensburg University.  The event is the second annual conference conducted by NWBC and is intended to bring labor leaders, students, consultants, researchers and workplace practitioners together, so they can learn from each other. The main focus of the conference was to bring dignity back to the workplace.

Jerry Carbo, a professor at Shippensburg University and the Conference Chair, said that workplace bullying has a “broader concept” than harassment at work.  Data collected by Alan Morse, a consulting psychologist, indicated that 53 percent of employers are doing nothing to stop employees from being bullied at work.  Morse’s research also showed that 71 percent of the work place bullies retaliate against the bullied employee who reported him.

This may be one of the reasons why victims of workplace bullying sometimes chose to remain silent, despite being subjected to abuse.  Sadly, despite the presence of policies or programs that covers anti-workplace bullying which some organizations impose or follow, bully victims are still not speaking up.

California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez gave a video welcome speech, and Tennessee Representative Antonio Parkinson gave a heartwarming closing keynote. Gonzalez passed California’s AB 2053, requiring the already mandatory sexual harassment training include a discussion of abusive conduct. Parkinson passed the Healthy Workplace Bill, that requires government agencies to have an anti-bullying policy in place if they want to avoid a lawsuit from a target of workplace bullying. Parkinson indicated that the goal of the law is to isolate the bully, or separate him or her from the company. In other words, with a policy in place, the organization would be required to attempt to stop the bullying. If the bullying does not stop, the target can sue the bully in civil court, and the organization would likely leave the bully to hang.


To learn more about the highlights discussed during the workplace bullying convention, click here.

Bullying is all about the bully and not the person being bullied

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Workplace bullying has become prevalent in today’s highly competitive organizations.  Bullying can come in various forms such as intimidation, verbal abuse or work interference.  People who experience being bullied at work may have asked themselves the age old question of “why me?” and “what have I done to warrant such negative experience at work?”  However, life coach and counselor Jackie McCullough wrote that bullying has nothing to do with the bully victim, it is all about the bully.

In an article at Democrat & Chronicle, McCullough mentioned that the bully will usually keep up with the bullying as long as the person being bullied reacts to it.  It relates to the workplace bully wanting to remain in control of a situation or a person.  This was also what the Workplace Bullying Institute stated as the reasons why bullies behave the way they do.

What McCollough indicated in her article may not be new, however, it helps to bring the focus back to the bully.  McCollough mentions that targets should not react to a bully’s abusive behavior, since most bully attacks are meant to get a desired reaction from the victim.  This is a critical point since understanding the reason behind the bullying behavior is a key step in trying to dealing with bullies at work.

Click here to read the full article.

Companies lose when a victim of workplace bullying leaves an organization

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Workplace bullying expert Dr. Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik’s book “Adult Bullying – a Nasty Piece of Work” can help readers to gain better understanding on workplace bullying and how to deal with it.

According to Dr. Lutgen-Sandvik, a Communication Associate Professor at NDSU and workplace bullying research expert, nearly 30 percent of employees experienced being targeted by workplace bullies at some time during their working careers.  She indicated that part of the issues in dealing with bullying in the workplace is to develop a common language that will define the negative and abusive behavior of bullies at work.  Over the last few decades, terms such as sexual harassment and discrimination was used to describe applicable situations.  But it has only been in the recent decade when the term workplace bullying became more known.

The NDSU’s professor’s book defines what workplace bullying is and even includes ways that will help to reverse the effect of adult bullying.  It also includes tools that employees who were bullied at work can use when faced with the abusive situation. What’s also striking is how Dr. Lutgen-Sandvik considered the workplace bullying victim’s decision to leave the organization as a victory and that companies are the ones that lose out on the situation since they lost a talent or experience employee.  

To learn more, click here to read the full article.

Workplace Bullying is One of the Drivers of Turnover in the Company

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Turnover is something that every company, whether big or small, encounters every year.

Research conducted by PsychTests AIM regarding the drivers of turnover, indicated that apart from greener pastures, employees resign because of a toxic working environment.  This includes having to deal with office politics or negative situations such as backstabbing or workplace bullying.

Nearly half of the survey respondents indicated that they would choose to quit rather than stay and be bullied at work.  This covers potential bullying that they may get from co-workers, supervisors or members of the management team.

Working in a negative environment limits a person’s creativity and productivity.  It is even more damaging to employees who became targets of workplace bullies.

Ensuring that the workplace has a healthy environment is something that business leaders can influence.  This can help limit the emergence of bullying in the workplace as well as other negative behaviors. Fostering a positive culture at work is key, as well as making sure that there is zero tolerance for harassment and bullying.

To learn more about the other drivers of turnover in an organization and suggestions on how to address it, click here.

Workplace bullying in Australia’s regional universities has become a serious problem

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A recent study conducted across more than 22,000 university staff indicated that academic personnel in regional universities were more likely to experience workplace bullying. The study showed that 28 percent of the surveyed participants reported they were bullied at work, with 12 percent saying the situation was serious enough for them to consider reporting the incident.

Around a third of the academic staff at four regional Australian universities, or 36 percent, said they experienced being victims of workplace bullies.  Nearly half of the staff, or 42 percent of the academic personnel, at a particular regional university stated that they had been bullied at work.  The negative experiences ranged from intimidation, discrimination, being excluded and publicly humiliated.

Despite the rising number of incidents, not a lot of these bullied victims are speaking out.  The reasons why they chose to remain silent are varied.  Part of it is trying to protect their jobs, since some victims fear that reporting the bullying may cost them their work.  For others, they worry about retaliation.  But for some, they may lack the courage to confront the bully.

To read more about the research findings and steps on how to deal with workplace bullying, click here.

Workplace bullying and the internet: Has the internet changed the dynamics of bullying?

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Let’s face it, in today’s world nearly everybody has a device that connects them to the online world, be it a smartphone, laptop, desktop computer or tablet.  Almost everybody has a way of staying connected to everybody else.  Social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram have changed the way people connect with their families and friends, or even to those outside their circle. In the workplace, intranet sites, email and tools such as Skype or instant messenger are also widely used to communicate with employees or teams. However, these online tools are also sometimes used by workplace bullies.

Cyberbullying at work comes in many forms.  It can be through a negative anonymous comment on the company’s shared intranet social network site or an online gossip spread through Skype or a messaging tool.  The effects are as damaging as the usual forms of workplace bullying.  What’s worrying is that it is also becoming prevalent in organizations.

A study conducted by the University of Nottingham and the University of Sheffield in the U.K. showed that eight out of ten adults they surveyed said they became victims of cyber bullying.  A quarter of the 320 respondents also reported they experienced being the subject of an online gossip at least once a week, or felt humiliated and ignored at work.  And while some employees who were bullied at work may have found a way to physically avoid a workplace bully, dismissing or avoiding negative comments online is far more difficult to do.

Sometimes, even those that are not bullies may have unconsciously become one, especially if they shared an opinion online which resulted to another person feeling belittled or humiliated.

To learn more about how the internet has affected workplace bullying, click here.

Are you really being bullied or are you the one who is doing the bullying?

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Most of the articles written about workplace bullying would focus on the employee who was bullied at work or how the negative working environment affects an organization.  However, there’s an article in Hawaii Business titled “Working with a Bully” which talked about the other side of bullying.  It showed a different perspective which highlighted what the bullying situation looked like in the eyes of a “bully boss.”

The article started off by recounting one of Executive Coach Kim Payton’s experiences in helping clients deal with workplace bullying.  Payton shared an example where a new mid-level manager joined an organization, in which his team was made up of female employees.  The women staff claimed that the mid-level manager was a bully because when he gets frustrated, he starts talking louder and his face would get red.  When Payton completed his investigation, he learned that the staff has been casually ignoring the mid level manager’s directives and requests, and were resentful of his domineering style.  The staff’s refusal to do the boss’ requests or showing subtle signs of disrespect and claiming abuse over any reaction of frustration or anger are considered as reverse bullying.

The mid-level manager, who was labeled a bully, was reacting to his staff’s bullying actions.  The cycle would just continue until either the boss or the staff would give up and leave the organization.  Granted that probably the mid-level manager wasn’t able to properly control his reactions at work, still, this case brings a different light to bullying and its many layers.  Usually the situations of workplace bullying being highlighted are those that comes from the top down meaning from bosses to employees, and not from the bottom up.

There are still many nuances to bullying in the workplace that really makes it complicated for HR professionals, management or even experts to address.  Specific factors such as cultural differences or varying management styles, can also contribute to workplace bullying or the perception that a person or boss is a bully.  However, given the subtleness and complexity of bullying at work, there are times when it’s difficult to assess whether it would fall under workplace bullying or not.

To learn more, click here to read the full article.

Unconventional Ideas to Create a Great Place to Work

By | Civil & Healthy Workplaces | No Comments

The holidays are coming!

I’ve been researching the topic of creating great places to work for a decade, and along the way I’ve gleaned thousands of ideas on how to do that. If there’s one thing I know, creating a great place to work takes focus and action.

But what kinds of actions? What actions can you be implementing that would result in a great place to work.

Well, great places to work often do things that are very unconventional. The action items they implement to be great are out there, but they work. I thought I’d share some of the best ideas I’ve come across along the way.

Consider giving these items to your employees – they are free to you, and they are the gift that keeps on giving:

  • At Zappos everyone spends their first four weeks in the call center. At the end of four weeks they will give you your paycheck check, and a $2,000 bonus, to leave. They figure that some people may be thinking they don’t want to work at Zappos after those four weeks, so they want to encourage them to leave.
  • At Twilio everyone must develop and present an app as part of the hiring process. That is, you must know code whether your job includes code or not. This creates a sense of unity.
  • At Moz the CEO prefers radical honesty, and he writes a personal blog that details everything about the company (and often his personal life too). No secrets. Others often chime in with their own stories. Not to mention, employees feel comfortable being radically honest about their work.
  • At Evernote, where there is a flat corporate hierarchy and communication is key, employees can sign up for Officer Training, and attend meetings in departments they don’t work in.
  • At Twitter, where innovation is obviously required, Quarterly Hack Week lets employees collaborate on crazy ideas they have for the company. Twitter can get all kinds of good ideas from their employees about what they should be doing next,
  • At Continental Airlines, where the customer is not always right, unreasonable customers used to receive a letter from former CEO Herb Kalleher that said, “Dear Mrs. Crabapple, we will miss you. Love, Herb.”
  • Etsy determined it needed a more diverse workforce, so they introduced grants of $5,000 to help women engineers enroll in Hacker University (their course to build better engineers). The number of female applicants went up from 7 to 651.
  • Commerce Science celebrates unity and collaboration through their new hire kits. That is, the last person to join the company creates a “starter kit” for the next one. Kits range from coffee to books to Nerf Guns to jokes…
  • Crowdfire also believes in collaboration. When there’s a new hire, he or she pops a bottle of champagne, and the team then completes a choreographed dance performance in the new hire’s honor. Talk about collaboration!
  • AirBnB focuses on its history as the founders give new hires a tour of the original apartment where they came up with the idea as a means to make their rent.
  • The cleaning product, Method, needs innovation as they create new products and interesting packaging for those products. Employees move cubicles every month. The receptionist and marketing assistant might sit next to each other, while the CFO and a lab tech are also next to each other. At month’s end, SWITCH!
  • In working with Chevron I learned that if a person is not living one of the Chevron values, anyone is allowed to say, “Stop” while putting their hand up. This signals that all other operations must cease and the issue must be resolved before the conversation can proceed. This is a way to keep everyone in check and ensure all operations are conducted with the values in mind.
  • At a company who shall remain nameless, if employees make a mistake they are encouraged to email the CEO detailing what happened. Each Friday the CEO picks the worst, the funniest, the stupidest, whatever it was that week, and gives that person a reward. This encourages trust and communication, as well as allows the company to monitor trends and determine how to address them.