Archive for the ‘Advice for Employers’ Category


C-Suite Rationale to Address Workplace Bullying

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

Workplace Bullying for Leaders

C-Suite Talking Points for HR About Workplace Bullying
By Gary Namie, PhD

Assumptions: (1) No anti-bullying initiative can succeed without support from the top. (2) It will be the job of HR to take that message up the ladder.

Here is a list of reasons senior leaders should care. It includes, but is not limited to, the following:

• Workplace Bullying is a costly litigation nightmare. Even though a low proportion of incidents of bullying also have an aspect of discrimination (20%), the public erroneously believes hostile work environment protections apply to everyone. Therefore, too many individuals shop for an attorney willing to either threaten or file a lawsuit or EEOC formal complaint. At the very least, a defense has to be mounted, or settlement paid, or trial and penalty expenses absorbed.

• Recruitment & retention of highly skilled workers undermined. The typical bullying scenario finds the best & brightest targeted for baseless, mindless persecution until they either voluntarily quit or are driven away. This is unwanted, unnecessary and PREVENTABLE turnover.

• A tarnished reputation as one of the “worst places to work” on the street (mainly in social media) follows the expulsion of highly qualified workers. In turn, recruitment is made more difficult.

• Bullying causes stress-related diseases. Allowing it to continue unabated directly contradicts the internal commitments to wellness and employee well being. In fact, research clearly shows the causal role of personalized bullying in cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases, changes in the brain that lead to irreversible behavioral dysfunction that passes for incompetence to the naive observer, life shortening interference with DNA cellular replication, and doubling the rate of suicidal ideation. Why should we allow the health-harming misconduct to continue knowing that our staff and associates are being so severely impaired?
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HR Webinar: When the Bully is the Boss — Feb. 4

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Business 21 presents a Webinar for HR

When the Bully is the Boss
HR must do something about bully managers
When: Thursday Feb. 4 2016, 2:00 pm Eastern, 60 minutes, HRCI credit hour
Presenter: Dr. Gary Namie, WBI Director

REGISTER HERE

Many companies assume they don’t have a bullying problem. Employees get along. In meetings, team members respect each other. But look closer. You might find that the bully is the very person you would expect to protect your employees from being bullied—the boss.
Some managerial bullying is unintentional—supervisors see themselves as “demanding results.” Other times bosses know their behavior crosses the line, but they don’t care.

Not convinced? Consider the slew of new state laws protecting workers against bullying. And consider the number of companies that have rushed to adopt anti-bullying policies and procedures for investigating complaints.
Problem is, most policies are written for peer-to-peer conduct. They don’t do enough to protect employees against bully bosses.
The costs are real. The employee’s health can suffer, causing missed work, higher healthcare costs and reduced productivity. Bullied employees are also a flight risk, as are those who witness bullying. And there’s the threat of lawsuits against the company.

In this session, Dr. Gary Namie will teach you:
• How to recognize and respond to a bully boss
• What differentiates “bullying” from other conduct- both illegal (discrimination) and legal (non-abusive disagreements)
• Why your workplace climate may be allowing the bully to prosper
• Why owners and executives tend to defend bullies
• How to build an abuse-intolerant, accountable culture for all employees, regardless of rank

REGISTER HERE

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Anchorage TV features WBI affiliate Dr. Lynne Curry

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

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Dr. Lynne Curry writes for the WBI Leaders Column, advice for employers. See her bio there.

She is interviewed here on Anchorage Alaska KTUU-TV discussing the new City of Anchorage anti-bullying policy.

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Curry for Leaders: No Skin in the Game

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

Workplace Bullying for Leaders

No Skin in the Game
By Lynne Curry, PhD, SPHR

Have you watched a manager bully another manager in a staff meeting?

Has one of the bully manager’s employee’s come to you? Does that employee want you to do something and yet expects you to keep her visit to you confidential?

Have you been bullied yourself and now stay out of the bully’s way?

What can you do?

After all, if you remain on the sidelines, you condone bullying. If a manager bullies a peer of yours, it may be just a matter of time before you’re a target as well.

If an employee seeks you out, and you do nothing, your inaction says “you’re on your own” and need to put up with bad treatment or quit.
If, instead, you interview, you say “I’m not your next target” and “I don’t tolerate bullying.” You tell the employee who feels she or he is the target that you care.

What can you do? Ask for a meeting with your chief executive officer. Give him any first-hand information you have. What have you seen the bully do to department heads that cross him? What turnover have you noticed in the bully manager’s department? What have you heard from employees who’ve turned to you?

According to the 2014 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey published by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 28.7 million U.S. managers and employees witness bullying in the workplace on an on-going basis. Regrettably, most witnesses don’t act to fix the situation, because they think it’s not “their issue” or because they fear being caught in the cross-fire. Those at senior levels in organizations often don’t see the problem until the situation explodes because many bullies kiss up and kick down and laterally. Also, a bullying manager can produce great bottom-line results.

Further, bullied employees hesitate to speak up, fearing they’ll lose their jobs or experience other retaliation if they voice concerns.
If you’re in a management or HR position, you have the potential to raise the issue to senior leadership. If your CEO takes what you say seriously, he has options for assessing and addressing this situation. You can urge him to initiate 360 reviews for all managers, giving employees a safe forum for describing how a bully manager leads, communicates and handles those with viewpoints other than his own. You can suggest that an executive coach work with bullies. You can arrange training sessions on how to deal with verbal confrontation.

What can HR do? A LOT.

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Lynne Curry is author of Beating the Workplace Bully (AMACOM, Jan. 2016) and co-contributor to the WBI Leaders’ Column to advise organizational leaders about strategies to deal with workplace bullying.

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Namie For Leaders: Consistency is First Step Toward Accountability

Saturday, September 26th, 2015

Workplace Bullying for Leaders

Consistency is First Step Toward Accountability: The Problem with Case-by-Case Approaches
By Gary Namie, PhD

One of the major complaints from bullied workers is the unfairness and inequity inherent in their employer’s approach to bullying complaints. As a group, bullied individuals are very sensitive to perceived injustices.

It is key to remember that if it is an American employer, there is no legal risk-avoidance reason to compel them to take complaints about bullying and abusive conduct seriously. If they treat complaints as legitimate and serious at all, it is because they choose to do so voluntarily.

When a sympathetic, well-intentioned employer does allow bullying complaints to be lodged, that openness is often followed by resolution attempts on a case-by-case basis (CBCB). Adopting CBCB sounds good but is plagued by unintentional consequences.

To employers, CBCB affords flexibility. It allows the investigator and decision maker to take into account mitigating circumstances. For instance, offenders can be forgiven if their misconduct is found to be based on following orders from a higher ranking manager. It also makes sense to be lenient in delivering negative consequences for first-time offenders. How could this be unfair?

From the perspective of rank-in-file employees the CBCB method is perceived much differently. From that view, in the first instance the given orders were unseen. Only the absence of punishment or changes was noticed. Therefore, the decision smacks of favoritism. And if the offender was a department head or director, then it appears the employer is protecting managers. Bullying is met with impunity.Leniency, too, looks like the employer decided to grant the bully wide latitude.

In both cases, employer flexibility feels like employer betrayal to workers.

This is a preventable error.

At WBI, we suggest dropping the CBCB approach. CBCB is the only alternative when no systematic policy-driven solution exists. Create the alternative. If employers truly want to hold accountable destructive workers, then create a policy or code of conduct in which you state unequivocally that abusive conduct is unacceptable.

More important, you must design enforcement procedures to make the policy a living document.

The procedures you create spell out exactly how complaints alleging violations of the policy or code will be handled. Employer responsiveness is key. Regarding the topic of this column — accountability for violations — your enforcement procedures must clearly dictate consistency. This is done by explicitly stating that all procedural steps — investigations, interviews, timelines, notifications of outcomes, and remedies — apply to ALL employees at ALL levels. The antithesis of CBCB is a consistent application of the rules.

If you, the employer, want engaged loyal employees, then substitute a policy and faithful enforcement procedures (governing rules) for old CBCB, make-it-up-on-the-fly, methods of dealing with bullying. Your reputation with your employees depends on it.

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Gary Namie is co-author of The Bully-Free Workplace (Wiley, 2011) and co-contributor to the WBI Leaders’ Column to advise organizational leaders about strategies to deal with workplace bullying.

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Curry For Leaders: How HR Can and Should Handle Bullies

Saturday, September 26th, 2015

Workplace Bullying for Leaders

How HR Can and Should Handle Bullies
By Lynne Curry, PhD, SPHR

It’s easy to say HR should handle bully managers. In reality it’s not so simple.

As bullying isn’t illegal, HR’s hands are often tied unless there’s a documentable offense, particularly if the alleged bully is talented, productive and highly regarded by senior management or the industry.

At the same time, while bullying isn’t illegal, bullies expose their organizations to potential legal liability. Those who bully become so accustomed to getting their way through insults or pressure that they often don’t realize they don’t rule the world outside their workplace. When they harass or insult those in legally protected categories, such as someone of a different sex or race, or retaliate against employees who challenge them on safety issues or other legally protected grounds, they may drag their organization into a lawsuit or in front of a regulatory agency. Then, the bully’s claim that “it doesn’t matter that I called her a b—- because I call all men a——-s” or “I didn’t give him a hard time about the safety issue, I treat everyone that way” falls apart.

HR professionals are in in an ideal place to convince upper management to take action when they see a workplace bully edging their company toward these potential pitfalls. They can let their senior management know about the $270,000 Dish Network paid out to a victimized employee fired after he reported abusive behavior by his boss. The jury ruled in favor of the employee when he proved his supervisor verbally and physically abused him and the company didn’t listen to his complaints. The jury further ruled that Dish management failed to protect this or other employees from the supervisor’s abuse.

HR can let senior managers know about the two million dollars Microsoft paid out because they allowed bully managers and supervisors to create a hostile environment for a salesperson by undermining his work, making false accusations against him, blocking him from promotions, and otherwise marginalizing him. Judge Sulak ruled that the tech giant was guilty of “acting with malice and reckless indifference.”

HR often feels hamstrung by the fact that many of the employees who come to them voicing concerns about bullies expect and need confidentiality – even for the fact that they’ve visited HR. Luckily, HR has alternatives that work. They can provide a confidential avenue for employees to voice their concerns by instituting an employee survey or 360-degree review on the bully.

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Lynne Curry is author of Beating the Workplace Bully (AMACOM, Jan. 2016) and co-contributor to the WBI Leaders’ Column to advise organizational leaders about strategies to deal with workplace bullying.

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