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Monthly Archives

February 2016

Do you want to make $40 in 10 seconds?

By | Workplace bullying | No Comments

Yesterday I attended a conference, and one of the speakers talked about taking action. To make a point, he held up a $5 bill and said he was selling it for $1. Four people got up to make the deal, and one made $4.

He then held up a $50 bill and said it was for sale for $10. Only six people got up to make the deal, and one lucky Joe made $40 in an instant.

Let’s look at the psychology of taking action. With his first “sale” the speaker made it clear this wasn’t a gimmick. Why then, when he offered the audience $40 for getting out of their chair and walking to the stage, did only six people go?

I got to thinking about WHY people don’t take action, and how this applies to our work environment – specifically, taking action against workplace bullying.

Here are three reasons people don’t take action:

1. Fear. In the case of workplace bullying, taking action means standing up to the bully. It possibly means standing up to managers who aren’t willing to acknowledge it’s a problem. What happens if people don’t listen? Will the bully retaliate? What problems will taking action create for me? These questions are answered in the context of fear, so the answers lead people to avoid taking action.

2. Spotlight. Many people don’t want to be in the spotlight. At the conference, even $40 wasn’t enough to convince people to be in it for 10 seconds. Why would someone volunteer to be in the spotlight if it meant they will be punished by the bully? Or worse, by the organization?

3. Apathy. Some people just don’t care enough to take action. Maybe the bullying doesn’t bother them personally. Or maybe they think it’s normal to be treated that way, so they don’t feel compelled to take action against normalcy.

Maybe one of these reasons is why you haven’t taken action, or maybe it’s something else. But one thing is for sure, if you’re not taking action it’s because you haven’t made the decision to take action.

If you want something to be different, you have to take action to get it. Want to lose weight? You have to exercise. Want to go on that dream trip? You have to put money in a savings account. Want to stop bullying? You have to dosomething about it.

That something is up to you. If you’re witnessing bullying at work, maybe it’s stepping in when you see bullying happening. If you’re a target of bullying, maybe it’s filing a complaint with HR. If you’re in HR, maybe it’s taking a stand with a new corporate policy that you will enforce wholeheartedly. (I have a template policy to send you, by the way. Just reply to this email.)

Whatever it is, do it today. Right now.

Bullies only bully because we let them. They do it because they have implicit permission from the people around them. Stop giving them permission.

I’ve got all kinds of resources available to you if you need ideas on exactly what to do. I can send you anything you need, or we can set up a time to talk on the phone.

13 signs there’s bullying in your workplace and what to do about it

By | Leadership, Workplace bullying | No Comments

You think there’s bullying in your workplace but not sure.

Or you know there’s bullying and trying to figure out how to prove it to your boss.

Or your boss told you not to worry about the bullying because goals are still being met.

Or your boss told you to work out an action plan to solve the bullying this year.

If one of these sounds familiar, then I’ve got something for you. Here’s a list of things that happen when there’s negative behaviors at work, in no particular order.

  1. Reluctance to participate in meetings or after work socials
  2. Work-arounds in order to avoid interaction; or requests to change shifts or move desks
  3. Absenteeism or resignations from good people
  4. Confusion (e.g., removal from a project without explanation; frequent misunderstandings about work instructions)
  5. Frequent angry outbursts
  6. Arbitrary punishment (e.g., a write-up for being two minutes late)
  7. Unhealthy competition for attention, money, bonuses, etc.
  8. Favorites or cliques; clear division among the team
  9. Unresolved conflict; tension between employees, work shifts or departments
  10. Frequent miscommunication
  11. Lack of results from people, both in quality and quantity
  12. Hazing, practical jokes or sarcasm that seems to be getting out of hand
  13. People who were once great employees are all of a sudden receiving poor performance evaluations

If you can point to these issues in your conversations with your boss, then you might get buy-in that workplace bullying is a costly problem. If you already have buy-in, they can serve as a place to start in developing your action plan.

What to do about it

The list of “to-do’s” is long, but one thing you can do now is ensure your already existing harassment training includes information about bullying, as well as behaving in a professional way.

Too often, harassment training is focused on how the law defines harassment, and what not to do. But it’s so, so much more important to focus on what you should be doing instead.

So at your next harassment training – or even at your next staff meeting – spark up a conversation about what professionalism means in your workplace.  I’m happy to offer some tips to help you get started. Just shoot me a message.

Blaming workplace bullying on the generational gap is a cop-out

By | Leadership, Workplace bullying | No Comments

A question I get asked a lot is: What happens when the older workforce (who understands the value of hard work) holds the young people accountable to certain standards, and then those young people go crying that they are bullied?

The answer is:
Blaming the generational gap is a cop-out. But, this question highlights the importance of workplace culture.

Focus on building a certain kind of culture that celebrates a certain kind of performance, and then focus on hiring in people who already live that culture – no matter their age. Whether the culture is focused on work/life balance and having fun, or long hours and performance metrics, or something in between, there’s people of all ages at both ends of the spectrum who fit in.

The problem is that most of us aren’t even sure what our organization’s culture is, so how can we focus on hiring people who fit in?

How to do it:  
Think about how your organization is setting performance expectations. Are they clearly outlined somewhere? How does someone know if they aren’t measuring up before it’s too late? Are you positive all of your managers are great expectation-setters?

Once clear expectations are set, if an employee isn’t living up the manager should move into the role of performance coach. That means providing clear and concise information about what employees are doing well, what they should work on, what resources will be provided to help them, and when the improvements must be made.

This is coaching, not bullying.

And I promise, no one has ever said, “I felt bullied during our coaching sessions.” What they DO say is, “I was berated, told ‘I suck,’ and I watched her throw my work in the garbage can in front of my team.”

Bottom line:
If your organization has a solid performance management process in place, and if your managers know how to set clear expectations and coach their employees, no one will tie bullying to performance conversations… or generational gaps for that matter.