Dr. Jackie Throngard

Dr. Jackie Throngard

I am a life time learner and have studied and researched many topics for adult learning, higher education, and instructional design. My research interests are in the following areas: career preparedness and satisfaction; student success/retention; international research collaboration; and women in higher education. 

In the previous article, Workplace Bullying Part 1, we talked about what workplace bullying is and the experiences outside and at work that may be indicators that you are being bullied. Before we move on, let me tell you about a time that I was the bully. I am ashamed to admit it but there was an older woman that I worked with in a salon and she was well liked and had the shift that I wanted. So I picked on her at work and made mean jokes that eventually hurt her feelings enough to have her husband call and threaten me at work. By the way, this did not work it simply made me more powerful and I laughed at her for the effort. She left the position and I got her shift, which was the main goal. However, looking back it was a stupid thing to do. I missed working with her and the kindness that she brought with her into the salon every day. My actions led to others treating others badly for the same effect and unfortunately one of my best friends in the salon was targeted and was fired. I am ashamed to have been the bully and to have done this to someone else. I regretted it back then and am still shamed because I was the a-hole at work. My actions were not worth it and I am very sorry to this dear lady that I bullied.

In this article I would like to address who is a typical victim and who is a bully along with some important tips of what to do if you do find that you are being bullied.

Who is a Victim?

  • The bully see’s you as a threat to their standing or job.
  • You are a veteran or the most skilled person in the workgroup.
  • You are independent and refuse to be subservient to the bully.
  • You are more technically skilled then the bully.
  • You are well liked at work and have excellent social skills with greater emotional intelligence then the bully.
  • You are ethical and honest with dignity (whistleblower).
  • You are non-confrontational so you do not respond to aggression at work.

Who is a Bully?

  • They cannot stand to share credit for ideas or recognition with a subordinate (usually a boss or veteran employee).
  • They escalate their campaigns of hatred and intimidation to wrest control of target’s work trying to make them less credible.
  • They make it so that others side with them and eventually succeed at isolating the victim.
  • The bully is never reprimanded at work because of excuses like “it’s the way it is around here” or “this is a competitive job”.
  • They have aggressive tendencies that are labeled by others as ambition.
  • They kiss up or ingratiated themselves with people of power in the company to not have their actions questioned.

What can you do if you are a Bully?

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As I was finishing my doctorate in education I decided that I should enter the work force and start using my degrees. I found a great fit as a research analyst at the state level and after the interview and job offer was made was excited to start working with a team of people who also seemed to be very dedicated to the improvement of higher education in the state. However, in a very short time I started to see how wrong I really was. At the time I had no idea about workplace bullying and never thought that a group of mature individuals would ever participate in so juvenile an act. I decided to write this article because I know I cannot be the only one who went through this. It was even harder because it was my first “real” job with my education and it completely demoralized and scared me. In fact, after I left this position I didn't want to work in higher education again. I was so put-off by working in a negative environment that I avoided going back to work for over a year. I instead helped out with nonprofits and charities because I found it less threatening. Eventually I finished my degree and after a long hiatus from applying I decided that I wanted to work in a position that really would give me the opportunity to use my skills for the betterment of working and student-kind. I was lucky because I got over this experience; some people do not. In fact according to the Workplace Bullying Institute (2012) study 77% of individuals who are bullied at work lose their jobs: 28% quit, 25% terminated involuntarily, and 25% are forced out by constructive discharge when bullying at work occurs.

For this article I would like to present some information from the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) to help readers understand what workplace bullying is and the signs that you may be in a similar situation yourself. For full information you can visit www.workplacebullying.org

Workplace Bullying Institute defines workplace bullying as repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating
  • Work interference — sabotage — which prevents work from getting done

Knowing the signs of being bullied both inside and outside of work is important. Here is a list from WBI to watch out for. 

Experiences Outside Work

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A friend of mine really wanted to pursue higher education as a non-traditional student. Unfortunately the experience was less then fulfilling and my friend dropped-out. When I asked her what happened she replied that she didn't really fit in and that the instructors didn't care about her. She said she did the exit interview with someone in student services and just said that she had time constraints because she didn't want to upset anyone. I think as educators this story is very common. We want to understand the obstacles to higher education completion but we are not always able to get honest feedback from our students. 

An increased dropout rate can have many factors some of which may include:

  • Missing to many days of class
  • Were getting poor grades
  • Could not keep up with the course work
  • Thoughts of not being able to complete the degree requirements
  • Could not get along with teachers or other students
  • Thought they could not pass the competency exam or certification
  • Family issues
  • Money
  • Work hours changed
  • Did not develop relationships with other students
  • They were bored

To combat these dropout rates the following are suggested:

  • Evaluation of the course work to create engaging real-world experiential learning
  • More support for struggling learners such as tutoring, counseling, or peer support groups
  • Having an instructor and/or administration to develop a connection with
  • More opportunities to interact with fellow students such as peer mentors who are in their program who can assist the newer students or peer study groups to strengthen the co-hort

The school may also consider purchasing student retention software to help analyze the dropout rates. If you are currently using BlackBoard you have the Angel application which can assist you in identifying struggling students. Many institutions ask students to participate in an exit survey to identify obstacles to program completion. I noticed that these exit interviews are usually conducted with someone from the college. Most people will not give honest answers about why they are leaving or dropping out because they don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or they become uncomfortable talking about personal issues.  It is recommended that exit interview be done online and that the information be placed into a data base where the individual cannot be identified. This should give you more accurate answers to your dropout questions. 

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This article is meant to make you aware of basic nonverbal cues from others and to help make you a better communicator. After all communication is a two way street. We will be discussing nonverbal communication in the United States covering three main areas: body language, space, and eye contact.

Nonverbal communications are important because they convey a majority of the message that you are trying to send. The human face can produce over 25,000 expressions and the body can assume over a 1,000 different postures or poses that communicate nonverbally to the recipient. The average person makes their opinion of others within 30 seconds of seeing them. They do this by sight 82% of the time, 11% through the ears, and 7% through other senses. In fact 55% of what people "say" comes from our body language or nonverbal communications.

The first step in nonverbal communications is to be aware of your posture. There are two basic types of posture. The first is open, which communicates that you are ready to talk, listen or that you're interested in the other person. The second is a closed posture where you look unapproachable and it communicates discomfort and disinterest in others.

The most common forms of bad posture are head forward and slouching. People who slouch or push their heads forward are sending a message of closed posture and lack of confidence. When a person pushes their head forward and rounds their shoulders they are communicating subservience, humility, and disregard for the person speaking to them. If you work on a computer for a majority of your day chances are you have this posture because you sit like this all day. The second most common bad posture is the slouch, which shows insecurity, illness, boredom or indifference.

Next we are going to talk about blocking behaviors. Blocking, no matter how good or poor your posture, will shut down communication with others and can be a sign that you wish they would stop talking or that you are not interested in what they are saying. The most common of these are the fig leaf, where you place your hands in front of you together; some women will use their purse or a coffee mug. Crossed arms are also a big indicator that a person is not willing to listen or that they feel offended by what you are saying. People will also do subtle things like placing a finger over the lips to indicate that they want you to stop talking. People may even rub their eyes so that they can block out what you are saying because they don't want to hear it.

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In the What is Human Performance Technology? article I talked about the organizational and environmental analysis to get us started on the path to increasing human performance and identifying the gap. This article will focus on the cause analysis through the evaluation process after we have implemented a change.

How do you even know where to start with the information that you have gathered? Well let’s separate our information into two groups: the environmental supports and the behavioral issues. Here I would like to introduce you to a new model called the Behavior Engineering Model or BEM that was created by Thomas Gilbert in 1996. The BEM will help you dissect the organizational and environmental analysis that you have already performed. There are six factors to the BEM: data, instrumentation, incentives, knowledge, capacity, and motives. Now in our HPT model we are trying to evaluate what we believe are the causes of the gap between the desired workforce and the actual workforce, which is called a cause analysis. The cause analysis is broken into two major sections; lack of environmental support and lack of repertory behavior.

Working the BEM into the HPT model cause analysis can be broken down as follows: lack of environmental supports should encompass the factors of data, instrumentation, and incentives; lack of repertory behaviors should encompass the factors of knowledge, capacity, and motives.

So here are a list of questions to help you figure out what the cause of your gaps are (I also listed the questions that we used to gather the data from the previous article to help you sort the information):

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Masters of the Educational Universe Podcast Episode

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I once heard of an organization that completed data entry for health insurance claims that had a sudden increase in the wrong data being entered into the system. The organization, which was dedicated to quality and customer satisfaction, was eager to correct the problem and decided that additional training was needed to increase employee performance. However, they were lucky to have hired a company who did a complete overview of the organization before the construction of new training materials took place. From observation of employees and looking at environmental factors such as the computers, chairs, desks etc. the task force was able to determine that training was not needed. The company had recently moved into a new building and the majority of errors were being entered between two pm and four pm every day. It was determined from observing employees, that those with computers that received a majority of sunlight during these hours were making the most mistakes because they couldn’t see their screens as well. The company needed blinds for the windows not training. This is a perfect example of Human Performance Technology or HPT.

HPT is used to analyze both the ideal work environment and productivity to the actual work environment and productivity.

HPT stands for

Human: the employees and working divisions of organizations

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