Archive for the ‘Media About Bullying’ Category


Turmel: Bullying on Virtual Teams

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

The author of this guest blog, Wayne Turmel, is co-author of the new book, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. We know Wayne from appearances on his podcasts The Cranky Middle Manager when he was kind enough to showcase our early work at WBI.

The Long Distance Leader
“As the authors point out, the evolution of remote work is unlikely to revert. Leadership training, if any is even given these days, has to take into account the remote workers paradigm. This book fills that void. Leadership of people unseen can be a cold, easily aggressive endeavor. Bullying likely accompanies situations where in-person communication cues are absent. Eikenberry and Turmel rightly prioritize the role of people skills which is often minimized as “soft skills.” In remote leadership, the key is to achieve outcomes through others by overcoming barriers posed by technology without settling for mastery of those tools alone. The skills are not natural. For example, the authors implore leaders to forego a need to control and personal preferences in favor of an orientation toward the team, tailoring communications to maximize receptivity by them. They must be deliberately learned. The clear instructions in The Long Distance Leader provide the essential blueprint for success for leaders and teams. Bullying is preventable by skilled remote leaders.

Key features of the book I admire: (1) the proper balance of technology tools and caring for people, (2) calling for leaders to shelve their personal style in favor of tailoring communication with the team driven by team needs, (3) the call for leaders to unselfishly abandon their need to control others (at the heart of workplace bullying), and (4) that leadership is an earned position of trust rather than a position on an org chart.”

Gary Namie, PhD

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Bullying on Virtual Teams
by Wayne Turmel

Usually, when people think of workplace bullies, they think of those with whom they share a workplace. Physical intimidation and threats come immediately to mind. Working from home often sounds like a tempting way to avoid such situations. But as we know from far too many examples, cyber-bullying is common. Just because you don’t share a cube-farm or a shop floor doesn’t mean you can’t be a victim of a workplace bully.


To be sure, working remotely and being connected electronically means that the ways in which negative interactions happen are different. Some of the most common bad behavior on remote or virtual teams include:

Exclusion – not inviting people to certain conference calls or meetings, or including them on vital information such as group emails and the like.


Withholding critical information. This can be as innocent as a simple “out of sight out of mind” example, or can be the first step to actively sabotaging someone’s work or reputation.


Gossip and lying are common methods of controlling other people and cutting them off from support or aid.


Active hostility. This can take the form of belittling people on virtual meetings and conference calls, shutting down their contributions in front of others. It can also mean sending threatening texts or Instant messages.


The same ability to write horrible things without having to be in physical proximity to the victim that enables people to cyber-bullies and trolls free reign apply at work. When you don’t have to look the victim in the eye, and can maintain anonymity, it’s more likely such behavior will occur.


A 2005 study at DePaul University by Alice Stuhlmacher revealed that when people didn’t know each other well but worked in a virtual environment (they were a name on an email distribution list or a disembodied voice on a conference call) there was increase in negative behaviors. These included lying, withholding information, escalating threats and social exclusion.


So what is an effective Long-Distance Leader supposed to do? Our role is to create a safe, productive workplace for every member of the team. The challenge when we aren’t in the same physical location is recognizing the signs that such behavior is taking place, and facilitating steps to halt it. The leader needs to assess their team and identify bullying behavior, address the behavior and restore trust in the team.


In many ways, working remotely allows you to spot the most obvious examples of harassment. Abusive or inappropriate criticism on conference calls, team meetings and email are often obvious and jump out at us. The challenge for many of us is that we want to avoid conflict (after all, the bully is probably not a pleasant person to confront) and it is far easier to avoid direct face to face discussion and settle for weak, ineffective corrective measures. How is that strongly worded email working for you?


Whether we notice the harassing behavior ourselves, or it’s brought to our attention by the victim or others, it’s incumbent on leaders to investigate and then address such behavior directly. Failure to do so can poison the entire team dynamic.


When trust is broken on a team (virtual or co-located) it can be difficult to reestablish. This is true of trust between employees, but also between the victim of the bullying and their manager, who they looked to for protection that wasn’t there. In The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership, we have a 3-point trust model that may help.

Trust model

Trust is established when three factors are all true: there’s proof that everyone is aligned around purpose and intent, there’s proof that each person is competent, and proof that they are motivated positively. If any of these are out of alignment trust suffers.


The challenge on remote teams is that people may not have visibility to each other’s work. For example, if someone is quiet on conference calls, or not very good at articulating their ideas, it’s easy to dismiss the quality of their work. We may not give them credit for the quality of work they deserve. As a leader are you making it clear that they do good work and have your support? Are you sharing those thoughts with the team?


As effective leaders who want to create a non-threatening environment, we need to take the time to listen for signs of trouble, not ignore them when they arise, and actively help the team gain the positive input about their co-workers that eliminate many of the seeds of bullying. Often the bully is the most vocal and outwardly social person, while the victim is seldom heard. A manager who is rushed or distracted may not pick up on the distress signals until it is too late.


When the actions of team members rise to actionable levels, we can’t let distance get in the way. We must be proactive in addressing both the behavior itself and the measurable actions to halt it.

Wayne TurmelWayne Turmel is the co-founder of The Remote Leadership Institute and the author of many books, including ATD’s 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations. Wayne and Kevin Eikenberry have written the authoritative guide to remote leadership, The Long Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.


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Posted in Advice for Employers, Commentary by G. Namie, Employers Doing Good, Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Related Phenomena | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



SHRM: Bullies as References for Targets

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Bully Bosses Can Inflict More Damage with Negative References

By Dinah Wisenberg Brin, SHRM, Feb 12, 2018

Employees trying to escape a bullying boss, and even those who have managed to land a new position, may be surprised to learn that their workplace nemesis is causing further damage by providing negative job references.

HR departments similarly may not realize that supervisors are disregarding company policies against giving references that go beyond confirming job titles and employment dates.

With prospective employers often bypassing human resources and calling supervisors for references, bully bosses can and do impair employees’ future job prospects, experts say.

“In the good old days, the references were HR, and in many cases, in many companies, HR still is the traditional venue. But we’ve seen a marked shift of interest in calling the former supervisors,” said Jeff Shane, president of reference-checking firm Allison & Taylor. “Hiring managers have long since figured out that supervisors tend to be far more talkative.”

Job seekers often wrongly believe that their current or former employers will say nothing negative and do no more than confirm employment, Shane said.

Many supervisors, however, never receive company training on how to respond to employee reference checks, while many others forget or ignore the policy, he added. His Rochester, Mich.-based firm checks references on behalf of job seekers, compiles reports on responses from former employers, and, if necessary, sends cease-and-desist letters to companies violating policies or even laws by supplying negative references that cross the line into misrepresentations or lies and that could be construed as defamation.

“We call a great many supervisors as references for individuals. The vast majority of the time, the supervisor has something to say” beyond titles and employment dates; their reviews, even if sincere, often are less than optimal. “In many instances, they know exactly what they’re doing” and that the employee is unlikely to ever find out if the negative review caused a missed opportunity, Shane said.

Nearly half of all reference checks that Allison & Taylor conducts contain some degree of negativity, he said. Even a supervisor who gives an employee a positive letter of recommendation will sometimes go “180 degrees in another direction” when called for a reference, he said.

Smart firms wanting to avoid litigation coach bosses to give only employment dates, said Gary Namie, Ph.D., co-founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute, which refers bullying targets to Allison & Taylor to learn about feedback from a current or former employer. Often the news confirms a candidate’s fear, and “a great many of our clients are totally shocked and devastated” by what is found. (more…)

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Michigan Asst AG Angela Povilaitis, Prosecutor of sex abuser Nassar, speaks for all abuse victims

Friday, January 26th, 2018

Michigan Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis addressed the court in Lansing before former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina on Wednesday January 24, 2018.

You are encouraged to read her complete statement here. Thanks to CNN posting.

She’s a hero to WBI as she pulled seven lessons from this horrific case. The lessons apply also to bullying. Bullied targets will see themselves in the list.

Nassar, the perpetrator, was a “master manipulator.” Povilaitis said, “He manipulated victims and parents. He manipulated his community through the press and social media early in this case. And he tried to manipulate the police department in his interviews. He tried to manipulate prior investigators. … All while knowing the truth, that he did the things he was accused of doing.” Most perpetrators are liars.

USA Gymnastics and Michigan State never held him accountable. Povilaitis said, “History gave him guidance for the future, every previous time there had been an allegation, nothing happened. His lies worked. This court heard from several women, some decades later, who were initially determined to be confused or to be liars. He was believed over these children. … And with each time he got away, he was empowered to continue and perfect and abuse even more.”

On the lessons learned …

Povilaitis said, “we must start by believing … Research shows that false allegations are slim, that most perpetrators are serial offenders and that how a victim, especially a child, is treated when they disclose, if they are believed and supported and not blamed, can affect their well-being for years …”

“there are still people in this very community and elsewhere, I would imagine, who are saying that these women were all in it for the money or the attention. Are you kidding me? After 150 heart-wrenching, raw, graphic, visceral impact statements, how can anyone … believe that? Even to this day, even as this historic sentencing hearing is broadcast around the globe, there are still likely people who doubt.”

“The second lesson ;;; is that anyone can be a perpetrator, anyone can be a serial sexual abuser. This defendant stole, cheated and lied. He stole these victims’ innocence. He lied about his behavior and he cheated parents and the community and the world of the trust they held in doctors, prominent physicians and prominent community members. … The only person who sees this (hidden persona) side are his victims. Then the perpetrator goes back, shows only what he wants the world to see. This is how he got away with this for so long and got people to believe him over the many, many, many victims who reported.”

“The third takeaway from this week is that delayed disclosure of child sexual abuse is not unique. In fact, it’s quite the norm. “

“The fourth takeaway is that predators groom their victims and families. This is so confusing to so many women. He was so nice, he gave them presents and trinkets and desserts.”

“The (fifth) takeaway, is we must teach our girls and boys to speak up. … It is easier to put up with discomfort than cause waves. And when they are brave, nothing happens. We teach our girls and daughters to be too nice, to just ignore and put up with uncomfortable situations, to stay silent when they should be allowed to be heard.”

“The sixth takeaway from this week and a half is that police and prosecutors must take on hard cases … They cannot victim-blame or wait until they have the perfect case. They cannot wait until they have dozens of victims who have come forward. Police and prosecutors must also start by believing, be victim centered and offender focused in their work.”

About the abuse …

“It seeps and oozes and permeates into every pore and crevice of a victim’s life. It can alter their life’s trajectory. We’ve seen that time and time again this week when we’ve heard mention of depression and anxiety and panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, self-medication, self-harm, question of self-worth, and even when we heard from Donna Markham some seven days ago about the suicide of (her daughter) Chelsey.”

The fallout …

Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon resigned but will be paid $750,000 for 2 years, then $562,000 per year afterwards if she returns to a faculty position. And she gets a 12-month paid research leave. Quite a soft landing for having treated complaints about Nassar with indifference. Read the story here.

On Jan. 26, the MSU Athletic Director, Mark Hollis, also resigned.

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You are encouraged to read her complete statement here.

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Truthout: Workplace Bullying Affects Nearly Half of US Workers. It’s Time We Did Something About It

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Workplace Bullying Affects Nearly Half of US Workers. It’s Time We Did Something About It
By Micahel Arria, Truthout, Jan. 11, 2018

Many are hoping that 2017 represented a turning point in the fight against workplace harassment, as the #MeToo moment put a spotlight on sexual misconduct. Now some labor advocates are hoping that the momentum of #MeToo helps to fuel an additional campaign against a different and overlapping type of harassment: workplace bullying.

While there’s been increased attention paid to the bullying of children in recent years, there hasn’t been the same kind of focus on bullying among adults, but statistics indicate that it’s a major problem. According to one 2008 study, nearly 75 percent of participants have witnessed workplace bullying at their job and 47 percent have been bullied at some point in their career. Another 27 percent said they had been bullied within the last 12 months. In a 2014 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), 72 percent of the respondents said that their employer either condones or encourages the behavior.

There’s no universal definition of it, but the WBI defines it as repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators. It is abusive conduct that is:

– Threatening, humiliating, or intimidating, or

– Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done, or

– Verbal abuse.

WBI sprang from a campaign that was started by Ruth and Gary Namie, a husband-and-wife team of psychologists. In the late 1990s, Ruth worked in a psychiatric clinic and was bullied by her supervisor. To their surprise, the Namies discovered there was very little Ruth could do about the situation. Employment discrimination laws existed, but they didn’t cover things like your boss screaming at you daily or a co-worker trying to sabotage your imminent promotion. If you hadn’t been targeted for abuse because of your race, sex or national origin, or because you blew the whistle on something related to the company, there wasn’t a legal avenue for you to pursue.

The Namies also discovered that there were no organizations working on the issue in the United States, so they started the Work Doctor at the WBI website, where they wrote about the issue, drawing heavily on existing research from countries where it was taken seriously (such as Sweden, Belgium and France). They also created a toll-free hotline for workers to call, counseled thousands of people on the issue, and hosted the first US conference dedicated to the subject of workplace bullying.

At the end of 2001, the campaign moved from California to the state of Washington. At Western Washington University, Gary Namie taught the first US college course on workplace bullying, and the campaign evolved into WBI after a group of research students volunteered to do more survey research.
(more…)

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Posted in Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines | 1 Archived Comment | Post A Comment () »



WBI’s take on the #MeToo Sexual Harassment Revolution

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

An incomparable amount of public attention has been fixed on sexual harassment in the latter half of 2017. It’s a tsunami, a virtual revolution.

We are finishing a short book, a primer, a white paper on lessons and opportunities for bullied targets to apply from the new movement and changing employer landscape.

The publication will be available for sale at a nominal price in early January 2018.

Check back to get your copy.

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Posted in Books, Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 2, Media About Bullying, Products & Services, Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education | No Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



US News: Battling Bullying

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Battling Bullying in the Workplace
By Rebecca Koenig, U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 13, 2017

It’s Monday morning and you’re filled with dread. You have to present research at the office this afternoon, but the gnawing feeling in your stomach isn’t just performance anxiety. Whenever you speak in front of your team, your boss interrupts to mock what you say. He questions your judgment, calls you an “idiot” and even mimics your voice in an unflattering way. Worse, a few of your co-workers have started to follow his lead, criticizing your work behind your back, and, increasingly, to your face.

You know your contributions are excellent – at least, you used to know. Lately, you haven’t been so sure.

Welcome to the world of workplace bullying. That’s right, the same sort of name-calling, intimidation and ostracism some children experience on the playground can take root among adults in their offices. When constructive criticism crosses a line, or a co-worker undermines your efforts, or your boss starts spreading rumors about your personal life, those are all examples of workplace bullying.

The effects of this abusive behavior can be serious: decreased self-esteem, worsened health and career deterioration. Read on to learn more about the phenomenon and how to combat it.

Understanding the Workplace Bullying Definition

Office bullying is defined as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment” that involves verbal abuse, work sabotage and/or humiliation and intimidation, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, a research and advocacy organization.

It may occur one-on-one (between two co-workers or a supervisor and subordinate) or in a group setting. The latter, in which multiple people gang up on one person, is known as “mobbing.”

Typically, a bully is “an aggressive person who strikes out at a particular person more than once over the course of months,” says Nathan Bowling, a psychology professor at Wright State University.

Workplace Bullying Statistics

One-fifth of American adults have directly experienced abusive conduct at work, according to a 2017 Workplace Bullying Institute survey of more than 1,000 people.

More than two-thirds of office bullies are men, and both men and women bullies target women at higher rates. Hispanics report higher levels of bullying than members of any other race.

It’s not uncommon to have a bully boss: 61 percent of targets reported bullying from people in more senior positions.
(more…)

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A modern tale of witnesses doing nothing, except when …

Friday, October 27th, 2017

Burger King and Nobully.org, an organization focused on stopping school bullying, produced a clever test. Which was more likely to compel engagement by Burger King restaurant adult customers — the public bullying of a high schooler by peers or “bullying” a sandwich? Spoiler alert: smashing the sandwich led to complaints 95% of the time, while only 12% of witnesses intervened. Watch until the end to see the care shown by the few who assisted the bullied boy.

Very instructive.

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Biz Insurance: Awareness of Workplace Bullying ‘Epidemic’ Grows

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Awareness of Workplace Bullying ‘Epidemic’ Grows
By Rob Lenihan, Business Insurance, June 20, 2017

Workplace bullying has reached “epidemic level,” according to a new study, and legal analysts are advising companies to take heed.

The San Francisco-based Workplace Bullying Institute’s 2017 U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, released earlier this month, estimated that 30 million American workers have been, or are now being, bullied at work, while another 30 million have witnessed it.

“These proportions are epidemic-level,” the report said. “The number of U.S. workers who are affected by bullying — summing over those with direct bullying and witnessing experiences — is 60.3 million, the combined population of six Western states.”

Unchecked, the repercussions of workplace bullying can result in absenteeism, low morale, high turnover, reputational damage and lawsuits, experts say.

Defining workplace bullying can be challenging, but Gary Namie, the institute’s director, described it as “a form of workplace violence.”

“It is, by our definition, repeated health-harming mistreatment of an employee by one or more employees,” Mr. Namie said. “It’s abusive conduct that takes the form of verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, humiliation or workplace sabotage or work interference.”

Peter Dean, president of Leaders By Design at executive consultancy Leaders Edge in Philadelphia and co-author of “The Bully-Proof Workplace: Essential Strategies, Tips and Scripts for Dealing with the Office Sociopath,” said workplace bullying goes beyond someone “just losing their temper or their impulse control for a time.”

“It’s not a one-off,” Mr. Dean said. “It is a targeted attention to one person that is very negative and meant to demean and belittle and degrade that person’s self-esteem.”

And bullying begets more bullying, Mr. Dean added.

“You have one bully getting away with being a bully and it starts to spread in an organization,” he said. “People start to think two things: No. 1, it’s OK to bully here; and No. 2, there’s no way to fight it because it’s accepted.”

The 2007 study said antidiscrimination laws apply in only 20% of bullying cases do. In order to claim sexual harassment, racial discrimination or hostile work environment, the report said, the victim must be a member of a protected status group. Mr. Namie said the Healthy Workplace Bill — which among other things, precisely defines an “abusive work environment” and requires proof of health harm by licensed health or mental health professionals — has been introduced in 30 states and two territories, but has yet to be enacted.
(more…)

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Sac Bee: State Worker’s Bosses Ignored His Allergies. Now He’s $3 Million Richer

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

State Worker’s Bosses Ignored His Allergies. Now He’s $3 Million Richer

By Adam Ashton, Sacramento Bee, May 17, 2017

A Caltrans employee in Nevada County who claimed his supervisors harassed him by ignoring his documented allergies to perfume and certain cleaning products will receive a $3 million payout from a lawsuit he filed against the state.

A Nevada County jury sided with John Barrie in a one-month trial that ended last week, upholding his claims that he experienced retaliation, that his employer failed to accommodate his disability and that he was subjected to a hostile work environment. He continues to work for Caltrans in a position that allows him to work from home.
(more…)

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Posted in Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines, Rulings by Courts | 2 Archived Comments | Post A Comment () »



Bullies are too expensive to keep

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

We at WBI have labored to convince employers that if they view bullying through their “loss prevention” perspective, the only rational action is to purge the one or two destructive individuals who have tormented many more others over the years. It is the rational choice because it stops the losses and prevents future ones.

Still, American employers who face no legal workplace bullying standard are safe to ignore it, when and if they wish. Ignoring and treating it with indifference or flat-out denial that bullying happens on their watch are the typical responses. They do so out of loyalty to the abuser. Simultaneously this sends the message that everyone else is expendable, dispensable and worthless.

We list the following tangible bully-related costs: undesirable turnover, absenteeism, increased utilization of healthcare-workers comp-diability insurance, and litigation-related expenses. This is not simply theoretical.

The New York Times reports that Fox News has paid out over $13 million in case settlements to five women who claimed that network host Bill O’Reilly sexually harassed them. Some of the women worked for him; others were guests on his show.

(more…)

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