How to Stop Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

Workplace bullying is systematic psychological abuse that degrades and humiliates.  Consequently, It causes anxiety, depression, burnout, and lower levels of job satisfaction in targets and bystanders. Behaviors include frequent yelling, manipulation of work, nasty emails, and social isolation.

This constitutes the bad news.  What good news could there be?  There IS a solution to this problem.

Stop Bullying and Harassment

Educate and train your workforce on a description of bullying, confronting it, and ways to report it. Finally, use the following suggestions in your work place.

  • Define similarities and differences in workplace bullying, harassment, and violence.
  • Describe damage caused by these behaviors.  Furthermore, use examples from businesses to help ending them.
  • Understand these behaviors as a social phenomenon, including traits of perpetrators and targets.
  • Find what drives people to engage in bullying or aggressive behavior at work.
  • Determine your organization’s cultural factors that allow negative behaviors to thrive.
  • Articulate tactics for building preventative and sustainable positive culture change. As a result, these can serve as part of your defense if ever challenged.
  • Discover regulatory updates, including the four state laws against workplace bullying and the EEOC and NLRB’s stance on the issue.

Bullying and harassment have become a real problem in today’s workplace. Above all, don’t let your organization continue to tolerate these employee behaviors. Consequently, they could expose your company to a host of legal issues.

Developing an Effective Email Monitoring Policy

While email and the internet affectively revolutionized business, employees use them for some very unproductive purposes. Employers monitor employees’ email and internet usage for any number of legitimate reasons. However, beyond personal productivity issues, you risk significant loss should an employee download a virus or other damaging software or engage in illegal activity conducted on company computers.

Creating an Effective Email/Internet Policy

Many employees consider emails confidential, but you should dispel that myth by clearly communicating your organization’s policy on email/internet use. Your policy should:

  1. State the purpose of electronic mail. Explain clearly whether it is solely for business-related communication or if personal use is authorized.
  2. Forbid the use of any derogatory language in email transmissions, even as a joke.
  3. Prohibit the use of email for non-job-related solicitations or proselytizing.
  4. Make it clear that employees can’t have a private password. Although passwords don’t have to be known by other workers, an exhaustive list of passwords must be available to management.
  5. Inform employees that you reserve the right to inspect all email records and correspondence without advance notice.

Caution: Employees must follow all state and federal laws directly or indirectly relating to email and internet use. For example, employees may not violate copyright laws or download pirated software. Furthermore, if you allowed pornography to exist in the workplace, you’d be a prime target for a sexual harassment lawsuit. Likewise, allowing employees to send abusive or harassing email could land you in court.

Employee email creates the electronic equivalent of DNA evidence, yet only 34% of organizations have email retention policies in place. And if your employees work on their phones, you risk a million-dollar FLSA lawsuit.

Deleting Emails: The Legal Impact

Courts increasingly regard email as just another business document. Like many employers today, do you distribute important policy notices via email? Can employees ask about leave or update their benefits information by emailing the human resources department?

If so, you must have a policy in place for retaining a copy of those email communications. The EEOC requires you to keep such records for at least one year. It’s a good idea to print out your emails to and from employees and place a copy in their personnel files.

Before purging email or other electronic information, read it to determine whether or not it has any legal significance. Although you may wish that some emails had never been sent, deleting them may not be much help. Deletion may be seen by a court as intentional concealment or even destruction of evidence. It may be better to have a copy than to be presented with a copy during litigation.

From a practical point of view, an email you think you deleted from the system may be stored somewhere else. One of the senders or recipients may forward it to others or to herself at another email address.

Perhaps no case illustrates the potential trouble email causes better than the Enron debacle. Once the story of Enron’s collapse hit the media, it wasn’t long before emails between the company’s upper management and its accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, were made public. Conversations that, before the era of email, company officials would have conducted via phone (and thus not recorded for posterity) were memorialized in a series of damning emails.

Recommendation: Although email is convenient, some things are best left to the phone. What you haven’t written down doesn’t have to be deleted.

How to Scare Away a Good Job Candidate

Countless tips and how-tos exist online to help job candidates shine in an interview.  However, very limited help tips for guiding the hiring manager can be found. As a manager, it is assumed that you already know what you’re doing.  After all, you sift through the résumés and narrow down the choices to a top ten.  Later, you choose the best five from your top ten list. Then, you schedule face-to-face meetings where you question, prod, poke, and analyze the candidate. You want to hire the best possible candidate but, inadvertently hire an incompetent, unmotivated employee.

Consequently, good candidates know they have other options.  They analyze and dismiss you if you don’t pass their criteria. Therefore, an interview is a two-way proposition.  Many Human Resources (HR) professionals and managers could use a few tips to help themselves in the hiring process.

4 Hiring Mistakes

I’ve compiled a list of the top hiring mistakes.  These choices could lead good job candidates to wonder whether they really want to work for you:

  1. Long wait in the lobby. You set the interview for 10 a.m. At 10:30, the candidate rechecks with the receptionist, only to hear that you will be with him shortly. A late interview causes the candidate to sense that his or her interview is not important to you. Timeliness matters on both ends.
  2. No icebreaker. You need to spend a little time with the interviewee before they face a hiring committee.  At this point, the candidate sees the committee as a panel of eager jurors. Offer coffee or a cold bottle of water, then strike up an informal, let-it-flow, friendly, 15-minute chat. Then the candidate will enter the interrogation room more confidently and give a better interview.
  3. Jargon, acronyms, and convoluted monologues. Every workplace has its secret society language spoken in a tongue native and recognizable only to the insiders. Avoid weird abbreviations, nonsensical acronyms and pet names for meeting rooms, job titles or processes. Long-winded discourse on the individuality of your tack-sharp, second-to-none workforce sounds industry-leading to you. However, it leaves the candidate feeling like an outsider who may have trouble fitting in.
  4. Off-the-shelf questions. Research websites offering “must ask” interview questions and companion answers, but don’t use them verbatim. Customize a few to suit the needs of the open job and ad-lib a bit.  A hiring manager reading scripted questions appears stiff, intimidated, and frightened.  It’s a sign to the candidate that this is not the type of leader for which he or she wants to work.

A Good Job Candidate System

Most organizations don’t recognize the importance of hiring top-notch employees.  Consider this: You hire an employee who is better than half of your existing staff.  Your organization just improved. The opposite occurs when you hire poorly.  Too many organizations repeatedly hire people in the bottom 50% as soon as they walk in the door.

If you have lots of “C players” on staff, it means your system is designed to hire C players. Look for the best candidates possible.  In the long run, they are well worth the improvement to your company.

Bullying Leads to Criminal Charges

Having trouble persuading employees that workplace bullying yields dire consequences?  Unable to convince managers to take the problem seriously?  Then add this warning to your next training session:  Employees who harass and abuse co-workers – and supervisors who turn a blind eye to such bullying – may face jail time.

Consider this recent example of workplace bullying.  It resulted in an employee’s suicide and the arrest of a Dairy Queen manager who now faces manslaughter charges.

Recent Case

Kenneth, a 17-year-old high school student, worked part time at a Dairy Queen in Missouri.  After years of being bullied at school, the bullying continued at his job.

Kenneth’s 21-year-old manager appears to be the worst offender.  She allegedly did all she could to make the boy’s time at work as miserable as possible.  The manager repeatedly ridiculed the teen.  She constantly assigned him tasks she didn’t have others do.  One task included lying on the floor and cleaning it by hand.  She allegedly threw food at Kenneth when he prepared it incorrectly and constantly called him names.

On December 22nd last year, Kenneth came home from a harrowing day at work.  He shot and killed himself that same day.

At a county inquest, a panel of jurors concluded that Dairy Queen “negligently failed to properly train employees about harassment prevention and resolution.”  They said Kenneth’s death was “due to harassment” and that the DQ manager was the “primary actor” in the bullying that pushed him over the edge.  As a result, the county arrested the manager and charged her with second-degree involuntary manslaughter.

Advice About Workplace Bullying

Include bullying in your handbook and anti-harassment training sessions.  Remind employees about the seriousness of these actions regularly throughout the year.  Make sure your managers know they shoulder the responsibility to take affirmative action against any observed bullying.  Explain the consequences of failing to do so, including termination…..or, in this case, criminal charges.

Effective Communication Basics

Be Effective with the Four Communication Basics

There’s not one ‘best’ way to communicate with your Teams, but rather a number of different ways. That being said, apply some fundamental communication options on most projects. Before you get too sophisticated with your approach to communication, make sure you know and use these fundamentals very effectively.

1. Status Meetings

Nothing communicates more effectively with your teams than a good status meeting. Early in the week, such as Monday or Tuesday, appears to be the best time for a group meeting. Ensure that expectations for the week are set. Therefore, the meeting will purpose to align everyone, address any issues or obstacles, and resolve them. Use this opportunity as a manager to address the needs of the group. Especially make sure everyone is on the same page.

2. One-on-One Meetings

One-on-one conversations with individual team members quickly become great opportunities to manage your teams. This type of conversation takes various forms. Set up to coach/mentor team members who may be new or have minimal experience. As a result, regular weekly or bi-weekly meetings become good habits.  For experienced team members, perhaps once or twice a month would be appropriate.

One-on-one meetings keep your pulse on team members. They also allow for a more confidential discussion which would be inappropriate at a team status meeting.

3. E-Mail

Maybe in ten years email will be obsolete. However, for now, email remains indispensable for most teams. Some of the uses for email includes one-on-one or group discussions, one-way notifications, fyi’s, decision-making, problem solving, etc. It can dramatically impact your ability to manage staff and engage stakeholders.

Be mindful that email may take the place of face-to-face meetings. Therefore, keep the personal meeting as a viable alternative. It’s easy to go down this path feeling that it’s faster or less complicated than talking in person. However, email should always be in addition to, not instead of, speaking to your team in person.

4. Reports

Reports cover a lot of ground – status reports, performance reports, issues reports, safety reports, etc. You may not typically think about reports as a way to manage your teams.  However, if you create your reports in the right way, they can be a useful tool.

What is the right way to create reports that can help manage your team? Make them actionable. Making a report actionable means that someone can read the report and then know what needs to be done next. Unnecessary details or information that could lead to confusion only muddle a report. Be clear and concise.