Bullying in the Workplace (#WVUCommMOOC)


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Workplace bullying is a topic that many people do not want to address. Organizations often do not want to address the problem (and might actually create an atmosphere where bullying is condoned if the organization believes that bullying behaviors lead to increased productivity and profits). Even targets often want to just ignore the bullying behaviors because they do not want to be viewed as victims or as being weak. In this presentation we address workplace bullying - it is our hope that a better awareness of workplace bullying will be a step to decreasing these behaviors in one's organization.

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Bullying in the Workplace (#WVUCommMOOC)

  1. 1. BULLYING IN THE WORKPLACEAlan K. Goodboy and Matthew M. Martin
  2. 2. “Bullying at work means harassing, offending, socially excludingsomeone or negatively affecting someone’s work tasks. In order forthe label bullying (or mobbing) to be applied to a particularactivity, interaction or process it has to occur repeatedly and regularly(e.g., weekly) and over a period of time (e.g., about six months).Bullying is an escalate process in the course of which the personconfronted ends up in an inferior position and become the target ofsystematic negative social acts”(Einarsen, Hoel, Zapf, & Cooper, 2003, p. 15)
  3. 3. Another definition of workplace bullying“Workplace bullying is a toxic combination of unrelentingemotional abuse, social ostracism, interactional terrorizing, andother destructive communication that erode organizational healthand damages employee well-being”(Lutgen-Sandvik & Tracy, 2012, p. 5).
  4. 4. Questions to consider when classifying behavior as Bullying:• Frequency – the negative behaviors must happen regularly (e.g., 2 times a week)• Persistence – the negative behaviors must take place over time (e.g., six months or more)• Escalation – do the negative behaviors increase in their intensity• Hostility - the negative behaviors must be intentionally targeted to harm the other individual (physically, mentally, or organizationally)• Power Imbalance – there is a perceived power differential between the parties above (this does not have to be status in the organization)
  5. 5. BULLYING CAN TAKE PLACE IN THE FOLLOWING RELATIONSHIPS: Supervisor-Subordinate Subordinate-SupervisorCustomer/Client-Employee Co-Worker-Co-Worker
  6. 6. Neither the Bully or the Target are viewed PositivelyBullies are viewed as narcissistic dictators, two-faced actors, and asdevil figuresTargets are viewed as vulnerablechildren, slaves, prisoners, animals, heartbroken lovers(Tracy, Lutgen-Sandvik, & Alberts, 2006)
  7. 7. Who is more likely to be a bully?• Males• People with high stress jobs• People who have been on the receiving end of bullying• People with job insecurity• People who have supervisors who are bullies• People who work in an culture where bullying is rewarded• People who lack interpersonal skills
  8. 8. Organizational Level Antecedents of Bullying• Leadership and Management Styles (supervisors who are too authoritarian could use bullying behaviors while supervisors who are too passive might not intervene when bullying takes place under their watch)• Organizational Climate (some organizations tend to be more negative, competitive, and abusive – bullying behaviors are common in healthcare and hospitality professions)
  9. 9. • Organizational Policies – (the clearer organizational policies are about what is considered bullying and the consequences of bullying, the less likely bullying takes place in the workplace)• Organizational Situational Factors – (organizational restructuring, job insecurity, boring tasks, and high levels of competitiveness have all been linked to an increase in bullying behaviors)(Samnani & Singh, 2012)
  10. 10. Other explanations for bullying in the workplace :Disagreements people display bullying behaviors in order to “win”Authoritative people use bullying behaviors as an abuse of powerDisplaced people bully a target due to overall stress in the workplaceDiscriminatory people bully someone because that person is differentOrganizational people demonstrate bullying behavior because they are oppressed and exploited(Lutgen-Sandvik, Namie, & Namie, 2009)
  11. 11. Negative Acts Questionnaire – Revised is a 22-item measure that isfrequently used to look at Workplace Bullying and DestructiveBehaviors in the Workplace.Purposely, none of the items reference bullying or harassment.The NAQ-R covers three types of bullying: work-related, person-related, and physical intimidation.
  12. 12. Sample Work-Related Items:• Being exposed to an unimaginable workload• Someone withholding information which affects your performance• Having your opinions ignored• Excessive monitoring of your work
  13. 13. Sample Person-Related Items:• Being humiliated or ridiculed in connection with your work• Spreading of gossip and rumours about you• Being ignored or excluded• Being ignored or facing a hostile reaction when you approach• Being the subject of excessive teasing and sarcasm
  14. 14. Sample Physically Intimidating items:• Being shouted at or being the target of spontaneous anger• Intimidating behaviors such as finger-pointing, invasion of personal space, shoving, blocking your way• Threats of violence or physical abuse or actual abuse
  15. 15. Einarsen, Hoel, & Notelaers (2009) found that all three types ofnegative behaviors, work-related, person-related, and physicallyintimidating were positively related to stress workload and stress withcolleagues and negatively related to organizationalclimate, organizational satisfaction, and organizational commitment.
  16. 16. CYBERBULLYING“Cyberbullying techniques use modern communication technology tosend derogatory or threatening messages directly to the victim orindirectly to others, to forward personal and confidentialcommunication or images of the victim for others to see, and topublicly post denigrating message”(Privitera & Campbell, 2009).
  17. 17. • Cyberbullying is less common than bullying• 50% of people have been cyberbullied at one time; 10% of people have been cyberbullied regularly• For children, cyberbullying often substitutes for face-to-face bullying, but in the workplace, cyberbullying mostly coincides with face-to-face bullying
  18. 18. ANTI-BULLYING POLICIES• Bullying behaviors need to be specifically identified• Policies must be posted and available to all (public)• Zero tolerance (rules must be enforced in a timely manner)• Need commitment from the top levels of an organization• Training about Bullying and it impact
  19. 19. • Repeat offenders need to face increased consequences• No punishment or retribution for filing a charge of bullying• Social support for targets• Human Resource departments need to not protect bullies who are advantageous to the organization
  20. 20. Bullying is not an individual problemin the workplace; bullying is anorganizational problem.(Lutgen-Sandvik & Tracy, 2011)
  21. 21. REFERENCESCowan, R. L. (2012). It’s complicated: Defining workplace bullying from the human resourceprofessional’s perspective. Management Communication Quarterly, 26, 377-403.Einarsen, S., Hoel, H., & Notelaers, G. (2009). Measuring exposure to bullying and harassment atwork: Validity, factor structure and psychometric properties of the Negative Acts Questionnaire-Revised. Work & Stress, 23, 24-44.Hauge, L. J., Skogstad, A., & Einarsen, S. (2009). Individual and situation predictors of workplacebullying: Why do perpetrators engage in the bullying of others? Work & Stress, 23, 349-358.Lutgen-Sandvik, P., & Fletcher, C. V. (2013). Conflict motivations and tactics oftargets, bystanders, and bullies: A thrice-told tale of workplace bullying. In J. G. Oetzel & S.Ting-Toomey (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of conflict communication: Integratingtheory, research, & practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.Lutgen-Sandvik, P., Namie, G., & Namie, R. (2009). Workplace bullying:Causes, consequences, and corrections. In P. Lutgen-Sandvik & B. D. Sypher (Eds.), Destructiveorganizational communication: Processes, consequences, and constructive ways oforganizing (pp. 27-52). New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis.
  22. 22. Lutgen-Sandvik, P., & Tracy, S. J. (2012). Answering five key questions about workplacebullying; How communication scholarship provides thought leadership for transforming abuseat work. Management Communication Quarterly, 26, 3-47.Privitera, C., & Campbell, M. A. (2009). Cyberbullying: The new face of workplace bullying?Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 12, 395-400.Samnani, A., & Singh, P. (2012). 20 years of workplace bullying research: A review of theantecedents and consequences of bullying in the workplace. Aggression and ViolentBehavior, 17, 581-589.Spector, P. E., & Fox, S. (2005). The Stressor-Emotion Model of counterproductive workbehavior. In S. Fox & P. E. Spector (Eds.), Counterproductive behavior: Investigations of actorsand targets (pp. 151-174). Washington, D.C.: APA.Tracy, S. J., Lutgen-Sandvik, P., & Alberts, J. K. (2006). Nightmares, demons, and slaves:Exploring the painful metaphors of workplace bullying. Management CommunicationQuarterly, 20, 148-185.