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Workplace bullying

NLCU Summit Handouts

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Thank you so much for your time on October 3, 2017, at the National League of Cities University Summit in San Diego.

Here are the items I promised:

  1. Information about other cities who have passed a proclamation regarding Freedom From Workplace Bullies Week can be found here, along with the language for the proclamation. This year, Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week is October 15-21. (Note, this event is put on the Workplace Bullying Institute, and they included language that commends them for their work at the end of the template.)
  2. Here is the Respectful Workplace Template Policy for you to use internally.
  3. Here is a list of examples of bullying behavior, laid out in the three buckets I shared in the presentation. This list might help you to describe what workplace bullying is if you find you need to. Here is a bullying infographic you could use to describe bullying and how to solve it as well.
  4. Here is a flowchart that shows the similarities and differences between workplace bullying, harassment, violence, conflict, and more.

Beyond those resources, if you are interested in learning more about the training programs I offer to help cities and organizations build positive work environments, or the coaching program I offer when coaching workplace bullies, I’ve provided those links.

I look forward to working with you in the future!

Moment of Truth: Are You a Workplace Bully?

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We seem to be trapped in a cycle of violence and hate that we can’t escape thanks to technology. The news is full of many, many acts of bullying and incivility, and if you turn your television off to escape it all, you’ll find it coming through your Facebook feed instead.

I can see that this spotlight on bullying has inspired employers to pause and look around their own work environments. Indeed, my business has been booming lately as the fact that adults can and do bully has become frighteningly crystal clear for those who didn’t already know that.

But let’s talk about workplace bullies.

Contrary to popular belief that people who bully can’t change, my own experience coaching “bullies” finds that people who bully can – and want to – change. They bully because they want to be seen as uber-competent, and they mistakenly believe that aggression allows them to achieve that goal. They may also be annoyed by perceived incompetence of those around them, and lack in the social and emotional intelligence to work through that.

And here’s the kicker – they don’t know how damaging their behaviors truly are. They are intimidating, embarrassing, and insulting others with a complete lack of self-awareness.

As I think about this, it makes me wonder, how many of us are wandering around engaging in behaviors we shouldn’t?

Part of my coaching process is to interview 8-10 people and understand perceptions of my coaching client. What would 8-10 people say about me? What would they say about you?

Am I a bully? Are you a bully?

Sounds far-fetched, I know. But just to be safe, I created this assessment to ensure we are all doing our best to make the workplace a better, more positive place.

I’m all about solutions, so if you’re interested in how to get rid of your inner workplace bully once and for all, you can check out my Forbes article, Seven Steps You Can Take If You Think You Might be a Workplace Bully.



For your numbers-driven boss

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I very often preach about the power of employee engagement. Why wouldn’t I? It boosts productivity and affects the overall bottom line. And while many HR representatives understand my advocacy towards engagement, it’s hard to prove ROI to leaders.

Leaders like numbers. That’s all they want to see.

Until they see numbers, engagement feels abstract and fluffy.

Well guess what? I’m all about numbers, too! It’s how I roll. So when I say engagement boosts performance and productivity, reduces turnover rate, and saves the company money, it’s not coming out of thin air.

So I asked my assistant, Karla, to create this infographic for you:

Well there you have it – employee engagement is the real deal! And guess what? It doesn’t have to be a complicated jigsaw puzzle. That is why I created a 55-step guide with easy-to-implement (and mostly free) action items that will help boost employee engagement at your organization! Did I mention it’s free? Click here to download today!

What Would Your Employees Say in a Letter?

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It’s your favorite employee here. I have a lot on my mind and thought I’d put it in an email. So here it goes.

During my interviews I felt excited about my future here. And during my first few weeks of training everyone seemed nice enough, and my manager seemed to be decent. I thought I might be given the opportunity to really thrive.

But over time, reality has set in and I’ve come to realize this company is like so many others – instead of being focused on people and customers, it’s focused on the bottom line. I thought my ambition and positive attitude would beat the odds, but I can feel myself becoming disengaged.

How can I be invested in a company that isn’t invested in me?

I know, you might say you are invested in me as evidenced by the health care benefits, pet insurance and 401K matching. While I certainly appreciate that stuff, what about the opportunity to learn and grow, collaborate with my peers, and feel valued by my leadership?

What about a culture focused on those core values hanging in the lunch room, and a place that’s open to suggestions for improvement from employees?

Honestly, I am here, waiting for the opportunity to be the best I can be. I want to feel profoundly connected to my work here, and I want to offer you everything I have in every moment of every day. In fact, that’s how people are wired – we are wired to put in our best. It’s just human nature. But the circumstances have to facilitate the opportunity.

Don’t leave me to fight an uphill battle every day to give you my all. Create a culture focused on engagement and positivity, and I promise you I will.


Your Employee

That was a mock letter from one of your employees.

I hate to say it, but unless you are totally focused on building a positive culture, running and responding to engagement surveys, teaching managers how to have collaborative performance conversations, and living your core values, it probably wasn’t that far off.

But don’t take my word for it – put yourself in the position of one of your employees, and write your own mock letter.

Would you be happy with its contents? Or would you be saddened that your employees aren’t being given every opportunity to flourish?

If it’s the former, please send me your letter and let’s get it on my blog! It’ll give us all a chance to see what great companies are doing to help employees thrive!

If it’s the later, consider your options. How can you get a new kind of letter? One that’s more positive?

You might try downloading my ebook on employee engagement. I’ll give you 55 turnkey action items for creating a more engaged workforce.



MASTER CLASS: How to Change Bad Behaviors at Work

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Here’s the deal.

I’m going to spill the beans. I plan to teach you everything I know about solving the problem of bad behaviors by replacing them with positive ones. I will teach you how to create a positive workplace culture.

The cool thing is that the course will occur over several months – so you can implement what you learn along the way.

We will hold our first interactive webinar on June 29, and we will talk every other Thursday after that until October 5. (Don’t worry, every session will be recorded so you can listen to them if you need to miss a class.)

You’ll also get four, 30-minute one-on-one calls with me along the way, and a private Facebook group so you can stay in touch with me and your classmates to discuss challenges and wins.

You will literally be implementing what you learn along the way. This is so much better than a two-day intensive course – where you go back to your office and have no idea where to start.

By the end of the course, you will have:

  • Developed the ability to speak confidently about culture and the impact it has on an organization
  • Created and distributed a climate survey to your organization
  • Started the process of a strategic plan to address the results of your survey and tie in your core values
  • Created an engagement committee from your own workforce
  • Implemented a monthly pulse survey to gauge your organization’s culture moving forward
  • Obtained insight for training your workforce in skills related to your core values
  • Updated your performance evaluation system to include your core values and other important pieces
  • Updated your recruiting, interviewing and onboarding processes to include culture and core values
  • Developed strong relationships with other course takers

If you hired me as a consultant, this project would cost you about $17,000. I’m going to guide you through the process of culture change for only $1,997. Bring a buddy and it’s only $1,697.

Fill out an applicationsend me an email, or give me a call at 619-454-4489 if you’re interested in registering.

There’s only room for a few more people, so act fast!



Three podcasts and a WSJ

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In the spirit of keeping the information coming at you in a lot of different ways, I’ve got a few things lined up for you:

First, I was recently a guest on Andrew Barrett’s podcast, Safety on Tap. We talked about what you can do to make something abstract, like employee engagement, more tangible for leaders and employees. Check it out here.

Second, I also appeared as a guest on Joanie Connell’s podcast, REAL Life Lessons. Joanie focused her questions mostly on targets of workplace bullying and how to overcome bullying from that standpoint. Check it out here.

Third, tomorrow (Wednesday) I’ll be delivering a webinar (okay, not a podcast as my subject line suggested) with Dr. Jerry Carbo, a professor at Shippensburg University and lawyer, on the topic of building a legally enforceable civil work environment.

With all the tweets being sent out by our President, BLR was interested in understanding how employers can mitigate that behavior without crossing into freedom of speech issues. There’s a fee to attend, but if you’re worried about how civility steps on civil rights, I recommend registering.

Fourth, I’ve already had several people show interest in my online master class.

I’m going to teach you everything I know about solving bad behaviors at work. Then you can repeat the process in your own organization.

The course is online and begins June 29 (in my last email it said July 29… that was a mistake).

We will hold one interactive webinar every other week, and you will have the chance to implement what you learned between webinars. So much better than a two-day course crammed full of information.

Fill out an application if you’re interested, and I will follow up with a phone call to share more details.

No travel. And if you miss a class you can listen to the recording.

Claim your spot ASAP – I’m only taking 7 people.


The Ultimate Cost of Workplace Bullying: Police Brutality

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I’ve recently come across several articles regarding workplace bullying in law enforcement. Articles from media channels such as Courier Mail, the New York Times, and the Guardian have flooded my inbox with sad stories and alarming stats.

Australia’s Union secretary Mick Barnes even called the Gold Coast police headquarters “bully central.”

How sad… and how confusing. How is it that people focused on stopping bad behaviors are actively behaving badly? They’re supposed to protect civil rights, not invite them… Aren’t they?

I don’t get it.

How are organizations supposed to implement a positive workplace when the government, our guidepost and ringleader, can’t even set the example?

Yes – I’m aware of the lingering presence of police brutality and the work that is going into stopping it. I know that activists, along with the government, are doing the best of their ability to end police brutality. Although I don’t discredit this attempt, I don’t think they should view bullying as a tiny slice of the pie. It’s actually a pretty fat slice.

Bullying is the catalyst of police brutality. It invites rage, harassment, and other bad behaviors that trigger police brutality. Unless we put a stop to it, law enforcers will continue to allow the misconduct to thrive.

Bad behaviors are systemic, and are a social phenomenon. They don’t happen in a vacuum. The organization and its culture is what allows these behaviors to thrive.

So… Here’s looking at you, Government. What’s up with your culture?

Something is off, so I decided to do some digging.

What I found

A highly critical report by the College of Policing reported a “macho, arrogant, bullying culture” in the industry. The study, which examined cases of alleged misconduct involving chief police officers and staff, described bullying as a feature of a “’command-and-control” management style.

I found the study informative and enlightening. I’ll leave the facts to the reporters, so I’ll just leave with you with a few of my key takeaways:

According to a police insider:

“[The force] is defined by a macho, arrogant, bullying culture and it tends to recruit a particular kind of candidate in that mould.”

“Being a large force it is possible to shove people around, move them into other roles, and this is used as a threat to force a particular approach, particularly around performance management.”

And… my favorite:

“You get your first chief officer appointment and you suddenly wake up and think, ‘I can be the bully.’”

What I gathered

It is clear as day. Bright workers are promoted, and with their promotion comes a badge of honor in the form of the right to bully. Bullying is being passed on from chief officer to chief officer as if it were a righteous skillset.

Because this behavior has become so engraved in police officers’ brains, it’s going to take a lot for the police department to change its culture – and it’s not in the form of additional laws, regulations and anti-bullying policies. It’s in the form of replacement.

The next step

Negative and aggressive workplace behaviors are systemic. In order to effectively remove them, holistic and system-wide solutions should focus on prevention, not correction.

Police department officers shouldn’t focus on the corrective actions involving eradication of problems and negativity. Instead, they should find solutions that create a safe and civil workplace.

That’s the secret: replacing bad behaviors with positive ones.

Rather than saying no to bullying, police department leaders should be saying yes to a civil workplace. This can be done by facilitating employees’ ability to work together in creating a workplace where positive, professional relationships will thrive.

They can do this by focusing their efforts three areas: policy, culture, and leadership.

Policy: Implementing a healthy workplace corporate policy provides information about what respectful and civil behavior looks like in your organization. This policy also addresses behavior that may not be as egregious as sexual harassment, for example, but is uncivil enough to cause a breakdown in communication and damage work product and customer service.

Culture: Address what behaviors should be seen from the police force, then include these behaviors in the healthy workplace policy. You can use them to create values statements and action items, and intertwine the list with performance management programs. Following the policy, training can be provided on those behaviors, as well as in areas that highlight positive behavior, including conflict resolution, negotiation, interpersonal communication, assertiveness, forgiveness, gratitude, empathy, stress management, leadership, and optimism.

Leadership: Leadership must be transparent about their support for a civil work environment for it to come to fruition. In addition, leaders should be trained on positive leadership skills, coaching uncivil employees, and publicly rewarding those who engage in positive workplace behaviors. They should be trained in building upon employee strengths, rather than finding and correcting their weaknesses.


As long as policies focus on quotas for speeding tickets, NOT engaging in police brutality, and policies that cover discrimination, for example, the bigger picture is being ignored.

And at this point, with bullying spreading around like an infectious disease, it seems culture change is nearly unattainable for police departments. Nearly… but not completely.
Serious changes in policy, culture and leadership must be made, starting with chief officers. It will be quite the challenge, however – if done effectively – it can save the police force’s brutal environment. Better yet, it can save lives.

I got to appear in an ad in the WSJ

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Something kind of cool happened – I was in the Wall Street Journal.

Hiscox, the company I get my business insurance through, invited me to appear in their full-page WSJ ad. They are focused on courageous entrepreneurs, and after interviewing me they said I fit the bill.

(Hiscox, by the way, has supurb customer service and they are relatively cheap. I’ve referred several friends to them and all have come back and said they saved about $600/year. If you’re a small business owner, check them out.)

Here’s the ad:

One Word = A World of Possibilities

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A few weeks ago I partnered up with my friend, Skip Weisman, to bring you the seven deadly sins of communication and how to overcome them.

My favorite tip offered was to stop saying, “but” and instead say, “and.”

For example, instead of, “That’s a good idea, BUT we tried it before and it didn’t work,” try, “That’s a good idea, AND we should look at why it didn’t work last time to make it work this time.” Instead of, “That’s a good idea, BUT we don’t have the money,” try, “That’s a good idea, AND we will need to figure out the ROI if we’re going to get approval.”

Look how the world of possibilities opens up!

On a totally different note, I’ve gotten several emails from people wondering when I’m going to offer my train-the-trainer course again, so I’m going to offer it again.

This time the course will be online, and spread over four months. We will hold one interactive webinar every other week, and you will have the chance to go and implement what you learned between webinars. Then we can debrief and discuss our wins and challenges on the next call.

I’m going to teach you everything I know about how to create and sustain a positive workplace culture, so that you can repeat the process in your own organization.

If you’re interested, click here to fill out an application. I will follow up with a phone call.

Our first group meeting will be on July 29… our last will be on October 26. No travel, no scheduling issues. If you miss a call you’ll be able to listen to the recording of it. And in addition to the group calls, you’ll get a bank of four hours to use with me privately as you go.

This is the first time I am doing this, so I am only accepting 7 attendees. Claim your spot ASAP by filling out the application.


P.S. If you’re thinking, “I’d love to do this BUT…,” try, “I’d love to do this AND I’m going to submit the form to get more information.”