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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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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