Workplace Violence: The Bullying FactorWritten by Felix P. Nater
A lot has been written about workplace bully and so my approach will deal with assessment and analytical process of workplace violence. During my years as a Postal Inspector on a Workplace Violence Interdiction Team in New York, I quickly gained an appreciation for value of determining "root causes" or "contributing factors" of incidents of Bullying and Bully Tactics. In all of assessments conducted involving bullying behavior "root causes" and "contributing factors" enabled investigative process to determine that in all cases victim retaliated escalating bullying to a physical altercation or threats of bodily harm. The bully created such an emotional response in his victim over time sufficiently enough to create a spontaneous response.
As such, I've come to define that Bullying is harassing, intimidating, offensive, degrading, demoralizing and humiliating to victims: employee, co-workers and supervisors alike. The behavior was patterned, unfavorable, unwarranted and reasonably inappropriate for workplace setting. While individual Bully was obviously at fault, management for its failure to curb behavior contributed to hostility by creating a permissive environment that empowered Bully. Sensing that he would not be sanctioned he acted with impunity. The unfortunate reality is that Bully exist to fill a void; some thought his antics were funny; others relished in abuse and banter; if it was racially or ethnically charged comments it had appeal to bigots. As uncanny is it sounds most victims and witnesses interviewed after fact were disgusted at knowing how long they were subjected to abuse and how much they tolerated without intervention until victim retaliated. It just happens over time like diagnosis of cancer.
WHO ENGAGES IN BULLYING TACTICS?
-An employee -Co-workers -Customers and employees -Employees and Clients -Employees and Vendors -Supervisors or manager
During many threat assessments conducted, I learned that Bullying is a form of workplace entertainment by some and an accepted part of workplace culture by others. You victim must be willing to resist victimization and confront individual to avoid potential for escalation ultimately leading to unfortunate spontaneous and subsequent consequences for engaging in a fight. It's easy to be intimidated by this behavior, it is designed to control you. However, don’t blame yourself for being victim of Bullying. Report Bullying immediately! It should not be sanctioned and should be addressed under your company’s Workplace Violence Prevention Policy.
WHAT CONTRIBUTES TO BULLYING?
Because Bullying is a pattern of abuse it must be dealt with immediately. The permissive environment is dwelling place of this type of behavior. That it might be part of an organization's culture is all more reason for intervention. Left unabated, it creates impression by Bully that culture condones it. Because employees are fearful of reporting bully out of fear of retaliation, incidents go unreported. The lack of appropriate intervention by supervisor or manager is especially case when employee is a good worker or a key individual in business. The fact that Bully is a supervisor or manager invokes fear and distrust in management’s ability to curtail threat sensing he would be sealing his fate if he makes a complaint. This sort of response is common and often came out during interviews of victims and witnesses.
I am reminded of an article I read entitled: “The Disruptive Clinician and Impact on Patient Care”, Lee G. Shanley, B.S., Director of Safety and Security Services at Nassau County Medical Center which appeared in NCMC Proceedings Journal, fall 1996. He emphasizes manipulative and controlling power superiors wield on subordinates. He wrote, “Medical staff who continually act out in a disruptive manner towards visitors, patients and other staff members undermine very fabric of healthcare facility. When an individual displays verbal abuse, open or veiled hostility, or threatening actions towards associates, result more often than not is compromised patient care…this abuse if not addressed, and allowed to continue unchecked, will more than likely lead to a major patient care error. As a result of stress caused by situation, associates and other healthcare providers may tend to avoid contact with offending individual whenever possible.”
Five Secrets to Gaining Credibility with Your Team for Outstanding ResultsWritten by Ed Sykes
Towers Perrin, corporate benefits consulting firm, surveyed over 1000 American workers and found following:
* Only 51 percent of all workers trust their organizations to tell truth in employee communications * Only 48 percent of all workers with more than five years of tenure believe their companies are honest in their employee communications * Only 44 percent of all workers over age 50 trust their organizations to tell them truth in employee communications
Organizations then wonder why worker productivity decreases, employee loyalty is at an all time low, and human resource situations increase. Your employees see everyday, at least in their eyes, following:
* Record profits, yet massive layoffs * Hearing how important they are, yet having their jobs outsourced * Experiencing changes to their jobs, yet not being asked for their ideas * Being told how they are doing a great job, yet being yelled at for mistakes in front of colleagues
No wonder there is tension in workplace. When I work with organizations, following three concerns are ones usually express:
“My supervisor, manager, etc., doesn’t know how to communicate with me.” “I am last to hear about bad news.” “He/she never asks me for my ideas.”
Because of these concerns, there is a divide, professionally, emotionally, mentally, and physically between employees and their supervisor/manager, etc., which leads to lost productivity.
The following are five secrets that will increase your credibility with employees and produce outstanding results for your organization:
1. Be Honest You owe it to your employees and to colleagues to be honest. Tell your employees exactly where they stand within organization. Be positive, yet don’t sugar coat it. Once your employees know where they stand, use this as a stepping stone for improvements and solutions you can work on together.
2. Be Consistent Be consistent with your communication among employees. You will lose credibility with employees if they see you communicate differently with different employees concerning same situations. For example, if you berate an employee (which I’m sure you would never do) for a mistake, yet say nothing to another employee for same mistake, you will lose credibility. Also, be consistent with way you communicate your moods. Remember, if you project a professional manner, no matter situation, your employees will emulate your behavior. 3. Communicate Bad News ASAP There is nothing worse for employees than hearing bad news from human resources, shareholders, news, friends, family, and even their religious leader, but not from you, their manager. The biggest reasons I hear for not telling employees are following: “Management asked me to keep it secret.” “I don’t have all facts yet.” “I don’t think employees can handle bad news.” Well, guess what: * Employees always find out about bad news (sometimes before their supervisors/managers, etc.). * Employees always appreciate when you share whatever information you have with them as long as you are honest with them. * Employees can take more than you think if you are sensitive to their concerns and express these concerns with them. Will some of them be unhappy in short run? Some employees may not be happy; however, they will respect you as a manager that respects them and keeps them informed of all news, good or bad. 4. Give and Receive Constant Feedback Employees want feedback on, “How am I doing?” By giving constant feedback, you are developing a bond of trust that improves performance of your employees.