6 Steps to Tackling Bullying in the Workplace

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The following was found posted by David Liddle on LinkedIn and I thought it appropriate to share:

Bullying appears to be a serious problem in our workplaces. Data from The TCM Group suggests that around 75% of workplace grievances involve an allegation, or allegations, of bullying and the situation appears to be getting worse.

More and more organizations are recognizing that bullying is a serious issue, often through issues being raised in internal audits or staff satisfaction surveys.

One recent high-profile example is the London Ambulance Service. An investigation found that there was a bullying and harassment culture embedded in the organization and identified numerous examples of verbal and physical abuse and harassment of staff.

The organization’s Chief Executive, Dr Fionna Moore, publicly apologized for the problems, saying
“from today, we will no longer tolerate bullying or harassment of any kind, at any level.”

So why is there so much bullying, what is going so wrong? There are two key factors at play here:

The first reason is the impact of the recession in the workplace. With things so tough in the economy since the financial crisis began 7 years ago, people have been keeping their heads down at work. Staying busy, trying not to rock the boat or cause any problems. Many people have felt fearful they could lose their jobs. That has meant worries about bullying and conflict being suppressed as other worries took priority.
As the economy recovers though, people are more willing to express how they feel about their work situation and more likely to put their needs forward. We are starting to see more complaints being made again.

The second reason
 there appears to be so much bullying is the fact that it has become something of a catch-all term used for all workplace conflict.

Employees sometimes have no other way of describing their experience. Often when people experience problems at work they look to the definition of bullying in the workplace to frame their experience.
Many times, when we are brought in to an organization to look at a bullying situation, when we talk to those bringing the complaint, what we actually discover is a problem caused by loss of esteem or loss of confidence or even loss of faith in a manager. A breakdown in the psychological contract between the manager and the employee. This leads to a breakdown in trust. It is the breakdown of trust that is often codified as bullying.

Bullying is a term that is used to describe:

  • An unresolved conflict
  • Distress and fear
  • Loss of control
  • Feelings of insecurity, isolation or vulnerability
  • Feelings of hopelessness or powerlessness
  • A loss of trust

All these issues are important to address but they are not bullying as we have traditionally understood the term. Complex issues are being papered over by the term bullying. In that sense, the term bullying is a problem.
The term bullying itself is doing more harm than it is doing good. It conjures up images of an ogre, a villain and a sociopathic monster. This is simply not the reality of most workplaces. Anti-bullying initiatives need to be far more sophisticated than simply saying that bullying won’t be tolerated”.

While bullying is a very serious issue, the widespread use of the term can be a real problem. It apportions clear blame and tends to single out one person as the problem – the bully. For managers, being labelled a bully can be a career-defining moment. It makes everyone very fearful once the term is mentioned. It is important to say at this point that, of course, malicious, deliberate bullying does happen. When it does it needs to be dealt with quickly and decisively. Managers need to have the right skills to set up and carry out investigations when necessary. They need to be objective and able to carry out factual assessments. But we also need to give employees and managers the skills to identify when the problem might be more subtle.

Here are some tips for identifying and addressing bullying and conflict in your organization.

1. Gather evidence of people’s experience

Whether it is staff surveys, regular meetings, special summits, or other methods, gather data on what problems people are facing and what the root causes might be. This kind of proactive ‘problem seeking’ requires courage from an organization but will really help tackle issues early on. Being proactive is an enormous advantage.

2. Take a hard look at your organization’s grievance procedure

Is your conflict resolution framework perpetuating a right/wrong, defend/attack, win/lose approach to problems in the workplace? The traditional approach to handling grievances is based on a judicial-style investigation of who is at fault. This can often increase rifts in the workplace and rarely uncovers the root cause or an issue. It rarely, if ever resoles the underlying issues. Reframing grievance procedures to include mediation and other restorative approaches can shift the focus to collaboration and collective problem solving when problems arise.

3. Remember, bullying can be upwards as wells as downwards

Often we perceive bullying as a top-down phenomenon; managers treating their employees unfairly. This does happen, of course, but bullying can be up, down, sideways and diagonal. It is also important to bear in mind that in some cases bullying allegations may themselves be an example of bullying.

4. Bring the ‘holy trinity’ together to develop early warning systems

By bringing on board the ‘holy trinity’ of stakeholders – HR, management and unions you can maximize your chances of catching problems early. Joint initiatives encouraging early reporting of issues really help resolve difficulties quickly. Initiatives can be intranet pages, printed materials, special meetings – anything that has the support of everyone in the organization and will help embed the culture. Meet regularly to assess the effectiveness of existing systems and look at updating them as needed.

5. Offer career long training and support
Training and support needs to be available for managers on an ongoing basis. Not just ‘sheep dip’ training – everyone going on a one day course before being left to fend for themselves. From the moment managers are appointed, dealing with conflict needs to be part of their core competencies so that they understand what is expected of them and can access the support they need. Emotional intelligence and compassion should be recognised as key managerial skills. Managers who don’t feel they will be supported when dealing with conflict are more likely to ignore it or even suppress itz

6. Constant review

As with any good practice, keep conflict management policies under constant review. This isn’t something that can be set up and forgotten about. There needs to be an active monitoring of framework effectiveness rather than a passive approach which waits until problems arise.

Finally it is important to remember that conflict exists in every single organization. It is part of life and part of working life. Don’t be afraid to talk about it and promote the systems you have in place to deal with it. Talking about how you deal with bullying, harassment and conflict in general doesn’t make you look like a bad employer struggling with a problem, it makes you look like a good one, dealing with a difficult fact of life.

What do you think?

  • Have you ever experienced bullying at work – how did your organization respond?
  • Do you agree that mediation offers an effective remedy to workplace disputes?
  • Are you an HR professional who has introduced a bullying initiative – what challenges did you face and what impact did it have?

Please share this article with others. Please also leave your comments and thoughts in the comments area of this post and I will gladly respond.


This is 2015 – Time to let go of a Fake History

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There seems to be an interesting situation occurring in the United States.
On 06/25/2015, the Supreme Court brought into law the ability for a man and a man to marry one another. The same ruling also allows for a woman and a woman to do the same
This is what confuses me. The United State of America, the most free nation in the world, the most advanced nation in the world and the wealthiest nation in the world has to have a major vote to allow people to marry.

The arguments for why these people cannot marry are strictly based in religion. Which is interesting to me, since religion had nothing to do with marriage until the Protestant Reformation. Prior to this time period (approximately 16th century) the desire to marry can best be seen by reading pride and prejudice. The art of offering a daughter to a family for wealth, riches or status. There are several books written on this topic, I would like to suggest every person questioning this marriage decision (including the 4 judges of the Supreme Court) read “Marriage a History” and “Public Vows”. Both of these are books that outline through academic work the truth of marriage.

So having shared all of that, I stopped and thought about the history of the United States. Many feel as if the Founding fathers created a document that considers health care, marriage and even morality. The truth is they did not.
They created a document that made sense to them in 1776 which they felt over the next century could hold up. The Founding fathers never thought of healthcare, marriage or even morality as these topics were handled easily enough with a small population.

Keep in mind, the Founding father created a document which reads: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
A) All Men – signifies white men. This later changed to allow for black men and even later than that, all women. The United States has tip toed into each area of humanity, since it was designed to be served by and for white men alone. This is the way it was in Europe at the time, which is why people who decry the United States racist are not reviewing World History.

  1. B) The Constitution is meant to be interpreted without prejudice and with and understand for humanity, by humanity and with a humanitarian mindset. This document was developed by people who studied more philosophy (founding fathers) than they did politics. These people developed a document that allows for a humanitarian option when one was not viable. They had just been given freedom from a dictator of sorts.
  2. C) The United Stated agreed to sign the Declaration of Human rights after World War 2 (1948) in which we agreed as a nation to abide by. Interestingly enough, the document does not say anywhere that people cannot marry, rather it says that people are free to marry whomever they so choose.

I have read comments from future Presidential hopefuls who I am more than sure have a homosexual person in their family. I have read comments from angry people who want to condemn homosexuals. These people do so in the name of God. This leaves me curious for several reasons. 1) God is Perfect, therefore if he/she makes a homosexual then is that person not perfect in the eyes of God.
2) God is forgiving, therefore who are people to make judgements for God? 3) If people could just choose to give up being targeted, abused or hated don’t we think as a society they would. Genetics are biology and from what I have read and deduced, being homosexual if genetic, which means to me, God created it and that person is just as perfect as I am.
4) All religions are supposed to be loving, caring and respectful – those of you that are spewing anger over this decision, which allows for homosexuals the same rights that heterosexuals have (Amendment 14 duh!) don’t you think God would be angry with you choosing to be hateful?

There are so many ways to make this debate and decision a positive one, it is time for the people who are afraid of social change to allow themselves a chance to grow. You are people who follow a church that needs to open its doors to people of all creeds and you are part of the problem within this nation, not the solution. I ask each of you to go to social media today, apologies for who you have been and to accept that hetero/homo sexual are people and they all now share the same rights – the ability to live happily or unhappily ever after.

An Example of Social Change – Sand Art

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Society is often slow to understand social change.
When considering how much society is able to change, we study history. Please review this video to see just how important it is to understand History and how it engulfs society.

Why – Because if we do not stop and listen to what is going on, the leaders will lead..where they lead is up to them, unless you, society mandate the society you want.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=518XP8prwZo – kseniya simonova Sand Art

In August of 1941, more than 23,000 Hungarian Jews are murdered by the Gestapo in occupied Ukraine.
All told, more than 600,000 Jews had been murdered in Ukraine by war’s end.
I believe Miss Simonova’s drawings were in remembrance of that time – and her representation is an amazing experience in how social change affected the quiet Jews, the silent politicians, the laid back politicians and the general population.
Enjoy the video

Why all the fighting, rhetoric and misunderstanding over Education?

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I recently read an article from a parent who was so upset with public education that she is choosing to remove her child from the public system and into the private school system. I was then guided toward a Ted Talk from a local teacher who spent 20 minutes describing to an audience of his current career. Although these are just two examples, there are many more like these that are available for the public to see. Sadly it has taken 15 years for people to speak out. Whether the people speaking out are teachers, parents and even some media outlets, they are all now just realizing that the reason for their anger is because of a well-orchestrated model for profit and competition to destroy the public acceptance of the public education system.

The Definition of Competition states the person or people with whom one is competing, especially in a commercial or sporting arena; the opposition”.
When considering the ideology of education, in 2014 the idea of competition has become prevalent. The American society is developed around the concept of winning. Often winning at all costs without consideration of the consequences or ultimately the devastation that may be left in the wake.

Within the American culture, this mindset has found success in most every environment yet is winning at all costs the best model for the future of success as the culture matures. In 2014, society is developing a new renaissance. The political landscape over the past 15 years has seen a see saw swing of ideologies, with several ideological changes occurring. Some of these changes are inevitable, others are being changed by force.

Considering competition and the idea of forcing a societal change, I have noted the field of education has come under attack. Several Education specialists arrived and shared with politicians that they could develop a model of change which can bring the United States toward the number educational country in the world. To do this, these people needed to develop a business model to show that their model was working. The problem with a business model in education is the product that is being developed. The product is not deficient, it just not fit into every box that the specialists and politicians desire of it. The product is alive, ever moving and at times, does not have the aptitude necessary for a standardized model.

In the modern environment, the corporate sector has convinced people that the public schools are all a failure. Articles flow with every teacher error yet they ignore that the alternatives to public education do not add up. The private school system is not equal to the public system. The charter system is far more private, yet is funded with public money. With this charter mentality, the school is not designed to care for all students, rather they focus on their desired population. In order to sell this model to the people, the specialists and politicians attacked the public school system. Teachers were blamed, new school grading systems were created and when all else failed, funds were withheld. Rather than grow a product to compete with the American competition, specialists and politician’s focused on developing an internal destruction of a public model, to recreate their desired tax paid private system.

So why destroy one model on the hopes of creating a new one. The reason is that other nations are providing better results than the USA and as a country the USA does not like to ever lose. As for the results of the public school destruction, it has not yet been a successful fight.
The reason is that the politicians wanted to setup a system in which every child is monitored through standardized tests. These tests would be administered and then students could be held accountable, along with their teacher. The issue that arrived – each State administered its own test an explained its own results.
The reality at the beginning was that Students were failures. Approximately 50% of students failed the tests. Remedial classes were needed since the United States does not lose. Each child would succeed, would graduate high school and be ready for the success of life.

This ideology was elitist, yet, when dealing with politicians and specialists, elite is often the expectation. In the past 15 years the American society has developed tests in each State, systems to teach remedial classes so students can pass these tests, systems to find a way for each student to graduate and in some States classes such as AP have become open to ever student as they are part of school grades.
On the surface each of these aspects is a positive direction within education, yet the goal of these additions is to survive the political change. In the 1960’s the same percentage of students were not reading at grade level as we have today in 2014.

Although the problem is systemic and I agree society needs to find a system capable of changing the reading on grade level ability, along with the math on grade level – the American model needs help from home and community. With the mindset of community, are politicians willing to invest in after school programs and community programs – rather than add funds to for-profit charter schools?

As the process of competition evolves, along comes Common Core. I agree with the primary concept of Common Core. The idea is that the foundation (standards) of education will be the same in every state. The content Standards will still be State focused, yet will also include some national standards. At the end of each year students will take a test which covers, English, Math, Science and Social Science and then the Data will be utilized to compare how each State is doing. So why the push back. The reality is that people do not want to think of themselves as failures. They also don’t want to see the reality of where their State ranks or if their students are less successful than other States. Rather than admit there is a problem, politicians and specialists operate with other groups to attack the program they created. They are now against Common Core as they realize that creating the competition won’t work in their favor. It may also backfire as foreign countries may be seen as creating a superior product.

Today, in 2014, the environment of education is doing more to harm students with their (USA) need to be the best than they are actually teaching them for the future. The ability to teach critical thinking, development understanding and or simply just the enjoyment of learning is gone. The model today is to test a student for pre-knowledge to know how much more testing is needed until the actual test which arrives 8-10 months after the process begins. Sometimes prior knowledge helps, most often it does now. Business models test products, keeping the ones that work and removing the ones that don’t. The field of education is trying to do the same now. Yet, in business the person who creates a product gets to redo their errors, whereas in teaching, politicians are asking to remove teachers who fail students, regardless of why they fail. The American system needs a proper professional direction for education.
Go ahead and allow common core to evolve and let the States Compete. Rather than use the data to force remedial classes and teachers into punitive punishment, use the information for professional development, student development and perhaps community enhancement. Allow for remedial classes to be there for students, yet guide those students to also have extra attention in school and after school.

The politicians need to let the leaders of education develop a proper model for future growth. The leaders of education need to allow professional teachers create a proper, working system. The system needs to be allowed to develop. This is the same country that developed intelligent enough people to fly to the moon, create the car, personal computer, internet and quite frankly everything amazing. Where is that education and passion for learning coming from today.

Competition is one of the greatest gifts given to the human being. It is also a system of greed, abuse and neglect if it is allowed to be that way.
Modern leaders need to deconstruct the model, decide how they want to compete, and then reconstruct the model in that way. Then they need to let it breathe for a period of time rather than continuing to attack. The system needs to find a way to exist in the system of competition that will be created.

Thank you for reading my thoughts.

Leadership is Developed around Personnel

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“It is easy to see leadership as something urgent and immediate.
Decisions needs to be made. Performance needs to be evaluated. Goals needs to be set. Action needs to be taken. Something must be done right away; it takes a leader to get it done.
We forget that leadership is not completed when we take action. Leadership is not only immediate” (Leadership Never Dies)

– The Message to be shared within this article and through my comments today is that Leadership is a living, breathing entity which guides the future. In our current leadership system of 2014 there is more of a “Do as I say mentality along with a save me or else mindset”. These situations are not what good leaders are, rather they are models of leadership left over from 5o years ago.

As time evolves, leadership is meant to as well. I do not mean that we need to change the style of leadership, rather how that style is handled with an ever changing social dynamic.
The modern leader of 2014 needs to understand that the people working for them wants to feel important too. People do not always desire to lead, yet they want to know that they have a voice, are able to use this voice and or utilize their skills to their best ability. A true leader of today focuses on developing the people around them for their future, not the future of the leader.

Goals for the modern leader need to be set and then put in the hands of the people that are working for him/her. When the right personnel are in place, then the goals will find success and the leader will achieve their due accolades. When a leader is forceful upon their people and just looking to achieve their goals alone, then the personnel tend to feel disgruntled and may be less productive. Without an ability to see where they belong within the organization, personnel have a tendency to withdraw. Great leaders are great because they understand the climate of the people working for them, know how to motivate them and in the modern environment know how to step back and let the people develop.

When making decision, leaders need to know how to evaluate strengths, weaknesses and possible flaws within a future outcome. This does not mean stay away from any of these situations, rather place personnel within reach when necessary to allow for goals to continue to develop. This is a model based within transformational leadership with a small amount of servant leadership adaptation. The modern environment needs this type of system.

The modern leader needs to be involved, know the future and guide the people toward it…if that is able to occur, then success for the leader will arrive.

Students are Barely Different

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I hear all of the time that teaching has changed and that reaching today’s students is far harder than it was 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years ago. I do not disagree with this statement, yet at the same time, I don’t agree with it either. The students of today are not different, they are still people and they still develop in their brain in much the same way. What has changed is society and the expectation society places on the modern student.

Yesterday I worked with approximately 50 students who joined me for my annual Advanced Placement Review at Panera Bread. Typically, the event focuses on me going over the material and students asking questions. We began this year’s session the same way, yet with modern research abilities, my students preferred to use their knowledge to ask questions to expand on prior knowledge rather than simply just be given a guided answer.

As an educator I do my best to focus on a system where learning is guided by student questions. I read consistently that my model of teaching has become more difficult due to learning styles, learning abilities and general student apathy. The people making these statements are out there to sell me a product. The parents who have a child that does not receive an A on every test buy into this problematic system and proceed to blame the teacher not their child. Keep in mind parents, if your child only ever achieves an A on everything, then why would students need a teacher. An A means a student is perfect and can restate what they have learned perfectly.

Students today are not different than the students that arrived before them. Rather, the system is different. Parents and the community should understand that the role of education has changed on purpose. The shift from teacher centric and teacher guided has been shifted to political minded. There is money to be made in education and the corporate elites have figured a way. Do your best to realize that a professional in the classroom is far more prepared than any person no longer in the classroom.

The role of society today is guided by cell phones, apps, computer technology and every other method of reaching a student other than the original way. Since the brain develops the same as it did in the past, why not try some of the old teaching methodology. Consider how you learn at work today. Someone sits with you and asks you to do something. You sit and do it, then ask a superior to review your work. You either did it well enough to move on or you have to redo it. They send you back to redo it, you ask questions, you redo the work and when it is approved you move on. This is what you learned from a teacher. Learning does not end, it changes into a job later on. The preparation your teachers do guides students toward their future abilities. Watching movies does the same thing, yet you cannot ask a movie questions. Using a computer is a great tool, yet you cannot ask Google if the answer is right or wrong..all you can do is ask google.

What I learn from my students each year is extensive. This year I learned that students are able to ask questions and if given the chance in a setting they are comfortable they will do just that. The review with my students lasted 3 hours and it was student run. In reflecting on the event I do believe that the students that participated are ready for their AP exam. They may pass, they may fail, yet all in all, they knew enough to communicate an understanding of Psychology. I know this because their questions told me they learned. They learned from a teacher who does not show movies, does not have them do dittos and does not force them to just write vocab words. Rather I make them read, ask questions, read more and write outlines, papers and do projects. The same model from the past still works…if we just modernize it a little.

You think you know what teachers do. Right? Wrong.

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Commentary from the article by Valerie Strauss

People who make legislation often are guided to do so because of fundamentals in belief and attitude rather than analysis from within the position of knowledge.
One of the problems that political leaders deal with when considering educational policy is the belief system of the party in power. There is a fundamental difference in understanding the true value of education.

The article that is written is from the view of a woman who joined the ranks of teaching, left and became an attorney. She takes on the systemic mindset of knowledge for a position rather than assume the knowledge of an environment. When a politician makes policy, they most often rely on special interest groups, lobbyists and donors to guide their decisions. Within the field of education, the system is extremely different. There is no current system to measure success and therefore, the special interest groups and lobbyists have nothing to sell other than fear.

The article is spot on, and I am not commenting on the validity of the article. Rather I am commenting on why the situation is dire enough that the conversation is occurring at all.
During the political transformation in which we see such a difference of perspective between Republicans and Democrats, the system of education began to come under attack. The value of a teacher, the teaching landscape and the success of a person was not able to be measured through statistical data.

Historically, education was a rich person’s gift, whereas working (blue collar) for a living was given to those with fewer means. As society moved toward a cognitive society (education necessary) there has been a shift in responsibility. With this responsibility and the cost of education being what it is, the people in power desire results. To each of these people, the belief is that the responsibility to educate is specific to the school and the teacher. The theoretical problem with this belief system is that each person spends 1350 Hours in school per year and 7410 Hours outside of the classroom. The real education for a person is only partially able to be assisted in the classroom. When a person passes their formative years (elementary education) then the average teacher has a total of 5 hours per week for each student. Adding in all the students each teacher has there is less than 30 minutes per student for the teacher to reach per week. To say that any person truly knows what a teacher does to reach each student is beyond the scope of intelligence for anyone not a teacher, yet politicians in their wisdom are most often guided by the party. The party is guided by the money that they receive and the money being received is to develop a for-profit education system.

The blame the teachers system that is currently moving through society is an excuse to develop a for-profit model, which is a political favorite.
As the system blames the teacher, the more the society wants a different option. Teachers are considered to be a necessary aspect of the American population, yet it is not a profession deserving of respect. The author (Valerie Strauss) left teaching for a more desired profession. If the American society was to be honest with itself, it has no idea what teachers do or how they do it, rather they want teachers to be society’s saviors.

If you want to know what a teacher does, then allow teachers to do what they do, go back to school and become a teacher yourself. Take the time to learn the art of teaching, join the profession and begin to write your own viewpoints. I believe that you will find everything you knew before entering the profession will quickly fall away when your everyday will begin at 5am and end around midnight (If you do it right).
If you want to make policy that affects teachers, then work toward becoming a politician, work with teachers (not administrators) and develop policy that benefits education not pad the pockets of the wealthy.

The more education remains intertwined with politics the more articles like this will be necessary. A system will remain balanced until an operation arrives that is capable of altering it. The Charter school system is a problem for the system of education in that it does not bring balance. There is already an environment for private school and public school. Parents already have choice. So why develop the argument against teachers. Why are teachers the worst thing for your child? There is a very simple answer.

The people making policy are not educators and have no idea what it takes to be part of the classroom.
Thank you for listening and consider calling your Legislators, Senators and President and have them remove education from politics.