Three shocking facts about workplace bullying and what you can do about them

by May 18, 2016

I just returned from speaking at the International Association for Workplace Bullying and Harassment conference. Every other year, all of the researchers who study workplace bullying from universities get together with all of the consultants, psychologists and lawyers who try to stop workplace bullying. Our goal is to share our insights, knowledge and experiences.

I thought you might be interested in three of my main key takeaways.

Takeaway 1:

Research on people who bully continues to be scarce. In the 90’s one famous professor called it the “black hole” of information in bullying research. Three researchers attempting to fill this hole discovered that “bullies” believed their behavior was justified given their work responsibilities, and were shocked to learn they’d been labeled as a bully. Many showed symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Translation: Bullying is not intentional, as many would like you to believe. Training on how to lead people and hold them accountable is a must for any supervisor, manager or leader of any sort. Training on appropriate workplace behavior, and including these behaviors in rewards and performance management systems, will help.

Takeaway 2:

After reviewing over 5,500 pages of research in over 90 studies, Dr. Michelle Tuckey discovered research indicates that organizational determinants are much more powerful than individual determinants.

Translation: It’s the organization’s fault bullying happens, so it’s the organization that needs to make a change to solve bullying, not necessarily the individual.

Takeaway 3:

After searching high and low for research about solving workplace bullying, Dr. Tuckey could find only 12 studies on the topic. Only three of them used valid research methods, and only two of them showed effective methods.

Translation: We need more research on what works when it comes to solving bullying.

If you’ve ever seen my testimonials page, you know my methodology works. To that end, I’m looking for a business who wants to partner with me to fill this gap in research, by participating in an extended case study that will be used by other consultants and anti-bullying advocates. The study will be instrumental in helping to transform the culture of organizations around the world.

If you’re interested in proving the return on investment for solving bullying, then let’s talk.

Do you know how much money chronically bad behavior costs your company? Spoiler alert – it’s a LOT higher than you want it to be. Download our data and worksheet to see how it’s costing your organization and what you can do to fix it.


About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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