This book provides real-life experiences and tips from employees who have been victims of workplace bullying in industries such as education, business, government and healthcare. The book discusses research-based strategies that Human Resources representatives can use to address bullying situations. The book also serves as a reference guide to an online anti-bullying program that provides training for all employees and managers.
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Eradicating Workplace Bullying: A Guide for Every Organization
By Ronald W. Holmes
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 Ronald W. Holmes, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
Types and Characteristics of Workplace Bullies
In the workplace, there are three types of bullies. They include chronic, serial, and narcissist. Chronic bullies are considered the most mean-spirited, malevolent and nasty employees in the workplace. They have a propensity to destroy their targets' careers and significantly impact their lives emotionally. They are accustomed to dominating workers in numerous settings, inventing flaws in workers that resemble their ownselves and attacking workers to please themselves. Chronic bullies are use to getting their way in the organization and using this to inflict fear in their targets (Namie cited in Henderson, 2013).
Serial bullies are found in most workplace cases. They are bullies who are in a position of power and exploit change and revamping of an organization. Serial bullies have caused their targets to encounter emotional stress, leave work unexpectedly, pursue early retirement, undergo legal suit and receive unfair dismissal from their worksites. Their behavior is similar to the behavior of narcissist bullies (Field cited in Henderson, 2013).
Narcissist bullies are considered pathological liars. They constantly abuse their position and misrepresent their knowledge, skills, accomplishments and talents. They perceive other people as objects or people whom they can readily substitute. They do not expect punishment for their action. They see themselves as invincible and superior. They perceive their targets' emotions as a weakness to take advantage of whereas the targets may not recognize the behaviors they exemplify. Narcissist bullies are considered employees who exhibit a sense of entitlement. Their behavior is similar to the behavior of the serial bullies (Vaknin cited in Henderson, 2013).
Since organizations are responsible for a safe and healthy work environment, they also must become aware of the four characteristics of bullying managers. They include the screaming mimi, the constant critic, the two-headed snake, and the gatekeeper (Namie cited in Henderson, 2013).
The Screaming Mimi bully inflicts toxic behavior in the workplace through mood expressions and unforeseeable exhaustion of anger. The emotional tone of the organization is controlled by this stereotypical bully who publicly humiliates targets to persuade bystanders that the perpetrator is to be feared. Also, the Screaming Mimi bully poses a risk to employers because of his or her volatile behavior and propensity to violence (Namie cited in Henderson, 2013).
The Constant Critic bully is considered "the hyper-critical nitpicker." This bully hides his or her own insecurities and deficiencies by focusing on trivia or minutiae things over other employees' performance. This bully highlights targets' mistakes to shame them in person and public. Also, the Constant Critic bully enjoys complaining about everybody's inability, as well as resorting to name calling (Namie cited in Henderson, 2013).
The Two-Headed Snake bully is considered very persuasive since his or her position of activities is always believed; and the target's position is discredited. This bully smoothly moves upward on the organization chart, resorting brutality to employees beneath him or her. This bully defames the image of targets as a means to boost his or her own self-image. Also, the Two-Headed Snake bully spreads gossip and executes division within work groups to influence co-workers to turn against those he or she targets (Namie cited in Henderson, 2013).
The Gatekeeper bully is consumed or obsessed with being in control. In ways to ensure his or her target's failure, for example, the gatekeeper independently and inappropriately allocates funds, time, staffing and information. This gives the gatekeeper a legitimate excuse to complain about performance issues in the workplace (Namie cited in Henderson, 2013).
Similarly, Curry (2016) describes seven additional characteristics of bullies. They include the angry, aggressive jerk, the scorched-earth fighter, the silent grenade, the shape-shifter, the narcissist manipulator, the wounded Rhino, and the character assassin. An excerpt of the bullies' characteristics follows:
The Angry, Aggresive Jerk
This individual is described as someone who resembles a drill sergeant and enjoys shouting at the employees particularly those new to the organization. This person demands control of employees and inflicts fear in them so they don't try to defend their peers on issues or accusations alleged by the perpetrator. While working with an angry, aggressive jerk, you might expect to find the individual blaming you for wrong doing, calling you out of your name or nitpicking, using derogatory comments toward you, finding faults and ranting about your incompetence.
The Scorched-Earth Fighter
This individual seeks to dominate or gain control of the targets through his or her authority, reputation, and connections with other employees in the organization.
The Silent Grenade
This individual rules most employees of all types in the workplace and occasionally blasts them through uncontrollable rages. Also, his or her behavior damages employees' job satisfaction and morale through threatening and insulting tirades.
This individual strives to manipulate the system through peers and supervisors. The person uses his or her charm to gain opportunity or take advantage of situations in the organization.
The Narcissist Manipulator
This individual is self-centered, lacks empathy for others and sees himself or herself superior to other employees in the workplace. Winning every event and playing by his or her own rules is important to this individual. Selling himself or herself and advancing to the top is also a trait of this bully.
The Wounded Rhino
This individual is mean-spirited, forceful and authoritarian who controls and dominates other employees' lives in the workplace. The bully attacks employees vigorously who are interfering with his or her work. This person seeks domination instead of destruction of his or targets at work.
The Character Assassin
This individual enjoys telling belittling or derogatory stories about his or her targets via the Internet and in person with other employees. This bully has no remorse for harming others. The bully's goal is to discredit and defame targets in order to feel superior or taller than they.
Thus, organizations must increase the awareness of these types and characteristics of bullies and create interventions to rectify the problem. The impact of bullying in the workplace is extremely harmful to employees and costly to employers. For instance, injuries on the job due to workplace bullying cost organizations $202 billion yearly. Employee absences and replacement compensation result in tens of millions of dollars. Costs also mount due to restoring property, enhancing security, repairing the public image of the organization, and providing psychological support for employees (Hoobler and Swanberg cited in Henderson, 2013).CHAPTER 2
Real Cases of Workplace Bullying
Workplace bullying impacts the victims or targets as well as their colleagues. Some characteristics of targets include being independent, smart and more skillful than their perpetrators. Other characteristics of targets include being an invaluable resource to new employees, being appreciated by their customers and peers for the contributions they bring to the organization, and being veteran employees who exhibit better social skills than their perpetrators (Workplace Bullying Institute cited in Bame, 2013).
To eradicate workplace bullying, we must understand the impact of it. We must also communicate the impact workplace bullying has on the lives of employees and the organization as a whole. The following provides an excerpt of interviews from targets and witnesses of 15 workplace bullying cases in the U.S. For confidentially, the names and organizations have been changed or omitted.
Dr. Mary Joe Catalina was one of three deans at a college after serving in numerous leadership positions at another college and earning an Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration. Catalina was supervised by the college's vice president whose characteristics resembled that of a gatekeeper bully. Some of the ways that the vice president made it difficult for Catalina to do her job included (1) micro-managing her work; (2) disallowing her to have input in the establishment of the operating budget; (3) withdrawing funds from her operating budget and appropriating them to other divisions of the college; (4) demanding that she balance the budget without hiring instructors mandated by the state (5) refusing to allow her to offer courses that were required for students to graduate from college; and (6) complaining about students' performance on standardized test without giving her the necessary resources to accommodate them.
Catalina's encounter with her bully went on for one year until she decided to quit work and find employment with another college. She complained repeatedly to the president of the college and a board member to no success. Catalina felt that she had a target on her back. No matter how hard she worked, established partnerships with the community, raised contributions for the college, and improved the learning environment, her efforts were counterproductive. In this work climate, however, Catalina was well-respected by her employees, colleagues, and students. Along with the lack of support Catalina received from her supervisor, there was also no anti-bullying policy intact. There was no process to report and address bullying in the environment. There was no HR involvement to address bullying in the workplace. As there were similar bullying incidents witnessed by Catalina, this was the culture of the environment supported by the college president.
Macon M. Madison was an assistant principal at a middle school for one year. After learning of a new assistant principal opening at a high school, Madison applied for the position and was offered the job. Madison was at a school where student discipline and academic performance were a major challenge for school officials. After Madison's hiring, a new principal whose characteristics resembled that of a gatekeeper, was brought to the school to eliminate the discipline and academic problems. The principal brought his staff with him and discredited all of the ideas and input of Madison. He and his staff closely monitored Madison's work assignments. It was not until a major catastrophe occurred at the school and a parent advisory member publicly said, "The best way to deal with the problem at the school, is to adopt the ideas of Madison." Reluctantly, the principal adopted the ideas of Madison and, subsequently, this problem at the school and others were resolved. This gave Madison credibility among many stakeholders at the school such as students, staff, and parents. However, the principal refused to acknowledge the many contributions that Madison rendered to the school. In fact, the principal questioned his work performance, yet gave praises for his work to staff members whom he brought on board. He also publicly referenced Madison's ideas as his own.
When the opportunity arose for a principal position at another school, the principal endorsed only the staff members whom he brought to the school. He made sure that Madison did not receive the necessary information and contacts from the school district to gain a promotion to principal.
When Madison's bully left the organization for a district level position, he endorsed staff members for his position whom he brought to the school and others whom he collaborated with at other schools. Using his authority and influence, he continued to make sure that Madison did not gain a principal position under his leadership. He made sure that his replacement continued the same bullying tactics against Madison. In fact, his replacement resembled the characteristics of the screaming mimi who repeatedly used derogatory words against Madison and other employees in the work setting. Madison was in a "no win" situation. He was afraid to talk to anyone about his problems at the school, and there was no outlet to do such. His bully bosses had discredited his work performance throughout the school district. Subsequently, he transferred to another school district as a teacher to get away from his bully. This bully, however, continued to publicly berate other employees who stayed at the school until a target filed a discrimination complaint against him; and the school district was forced to transfer the bully to another school yet in a similar position.
Perry Ellington was a program coordinator at a physical plant company. He was an invaluable asset to the company with certifications and degrees to support his credentials. Ellington was supervised by the director of the physical plant whose characteristics resembled that of a screaming mimi. One of the ways the director bullied Ellington was by criticizing and screaming at him publicly in team meetings. This harassment of Ellington went on for two years.
While fearing the loss of his job and credibility with the company, Ellington refused to report the incident to his director's superior or Human Resources. He also felt that the company would not do anything to his boss because he was well respected in the organization. After two years of his director criticizing and screaming at him publicly in team meetings, Ellington could not take it anymore and retaliated against his boss. Ellington screamed back at his boss publicly in a meeting. He knew that this could be the end of his career, but he could not control his emotions.
After the team meeting, Ellington's boss met with him to understand his position for such outburst. Ellington explained that he had been repeatedly criticized in meetings and did not think that the criticism was fair. He also indicated that his outburst was in total frustration and disappointment at his mistreatment. Ellington's boss appeared receptive of his explanation; and they remained calm towards each other thereafter.
Six months, after the outburst, Ellington's boss transferred him to another position at the company. He allowed Ellington to maintain his title and rank. Ellington eagerly accepted the transfer but was disturbed by the abusive conduct of his boss, as well as others that he witnessed his boss bully at the company. Rather than being offered an opportunity to transfer to another position inside of the company, Ellington's co-workers were unfairly fired from their positions. Without an anti-bullying policy, Ellington felt that the company was aware of bullying incidents and secretly dealt with it by transferring the boss to another group and eventually firing him. The company never openly said or associated the transfer or firing to bullying. Ellington wondered, however, why doesn't the company do something about bullying? How does the company allow someone of his boss' status to be so poor in working with people? He concluded that his bullying experience helped him to form his ideas of how he wanted to work positively with people and never like his former supervisor. Some years later, Ellington's boss admitted his mistake and mistreatment. He also attributed his behavior to fear of failure in the company.
Steve Cage was director of continuing education at a four-year institution. Cage's immediate supervisor resembled the characteristics of a scorched-earth fighter. Over a two-year period, Cage encountered repeated mistreatment from his supervisor. Cage recalled being ridiculed for requesting vacation during the university's "down time" as well as when he needed time off to attend his father's funeral. Cage's supervisor accused him of being insensitive to employees he supervised because he wanted to take vacation while one of his employees was dealing with the sickness of her mother.
Cage's supervisor threatened him by saying, "If anything happens in the department while you are away, it's on you." Cage felt he was in a "no win situation." Even though Cage met with his staff members to ensure the department could run smoothly during his absence, his supervisor was never satisfied. While on leave, Cage's supervisor accused him of having a staff member complete assignments in unsatisfactory working conditions. Cage was also told that, "As an administrator, there may be times when you may need to lose vacation."
Despite his mistreatment, Cage refused to make a formal complaint with HR. He noticed that everyone who filed a complaint usually left the college. He felt that if he filed a complaint, his supervisor would retaliate or "come after him much harder when he made a mistake." Cage attempted to discuss the situation with his supervisor's boss. Upper management warned him that if a formal complaint were made to HR, the university would take the side of the supervisor.
Excerpted from Eradicating Workplace Bullying: A Guide for Every Organization by Ronald W. Holmes. Copyright © 2016 Ronald W. Holmes, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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Table of Contents
WHAT IS BULLYING?, 1,
TYPES AND CHARACTERISTICS OF WORKPLACE BULLIES, 5,
REAL CASES OF WORKPLACE BULLYING, 9,
Advice of Workplace Bullying Targets, 24,
WORKPLACE BULLYING PERSPECTIVES, 26,
Historical Perspective, 26,
Psychological Perspective, 29,
Legal Perspective, 31,
Leadership Perspective, 34,
WORKPLACE BULLYING IMPACTS, 36,
WHAT TO DO?, 37,
Follow the Law, 37,
Establish Policies & Procedures, 39,
Educate Employees & Managers, 44,
Establish a Reporting Process, 47,
Establish Evaluation System for Monitoring Anti-Bullying Prevention Strategies, 48,
AUTHOR'S BACKGROUND, 57,