Friday, November 29, 2013

Civility in the Workplace

Bullying is a very complicated issue.  We have seen it in the news lately with the Miami Dolphins suspended a player who was accused of bullying.  Most people are aware that it goes on, most people believe it is a problem and a good deal of people are unsure what to do about it.  Most companies or agencies have some of the same issues as any other workplace and each has some unique challenges.  Regardless of what is going on, what I believe and what we know does and does not work in addressing these issues, they are not easily solved.  It is my goal to give you some statistics, share some ideas and hear about some of your challenges.  What I hope you will leave here with are some things to think about. Think about what’s going on in your workplace, how do you contribute to it, how do you work toward solutions and what new things can you try. 
68% of employers surveyed think bullying is a problem
9% of Targets think Management view bullying as a significant problem
76% of Targets think Management sees Bullying as IRRELEVANT

Bullying in general is not illegal in the U.S. unless it involves harassment based on race/color, religion, national origin, sex, age (over 40), marital status, disability, sexual orientation/gender identity, Veteran/military status or any other protected class.
What can we do? 

      Educate Employees on Professional & Respectful Behavior & Company Code of Conduct
      Have Clear Policies that have zero-tolerance and anti-bullying guidelines
      Train Supervisors about how to intervene
      Encourage witnesses to report any incidents immediately.

Kathleen Bartle, Conflict Consultant,, says:
Bullying and abrasive behaviors are deep-seated problems. Many behaviors are unconscious. Most aggressors are unaware of what they are doing. Even those who seem to be deliberately choosing a target for bullying behavior may not realize how aggressive they are. Without a full intervention by a qualified conflict expert you should expect that the behavior will continue. So, what about dismissal?
My recommendation is that you should not dismiss someone for behaving in an aggressive or bullying manner until you have had an intervention that has some likelihood of success. Warning, ignoring, cajoling, etc. are not among them. You need a good investigation and evaluation of the situation. You need a model for evaluating the aggression that takes into consideration various factors including: the culture of the organization, character disorders, poor management styles, biases and prejudices of the aggressor, and awareness of how the behavior is described by the aggressor. Without this information you can expect to have a problem that will fester until someone is fired, quits, hurts him or herself, or someone files a lawsuit.