Workplace bullying can take many forms:-
One such form is the public reprimand.
A public reprimand can occur when a critical email from a manager to a subordinate is copied to another subordinate(s) instead of sending private email or inviting the subordinate to attend a private meeting.
The effect of such a public reprimand can cause extreme humiliation for the reprimanded subordinate and can result in damage to working relationships with his/her colleagues. as it tends to lower his/her standing in the eyes of colleagues.
Such public reprimands are particularly damaging when the reprimand is copied to junior colleagues, as this will make it more difficult for the more senior colleague to continue to function in his/her role, for example, in the role of Module Leader, as was the case with Dr Fredrics.
Public reprimands can also be highly traumatic and can result in symptoms of stress-related illness and injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
The following is an example of an email reprimand to Dr Fredrics from Dr Gartrell, which was copied to Dr Paul Archbold, a new part-time staff member who was teaching a module with Dr Fredrics where Dr Fredrics was serving as Module Leader:-
Why did Dr Archbold feel that it was appropriate and necessary to prevail upon Dr Gartrell to intervene in the normal operations of a new module which Dr Fredrics was leading, instead of merely phoning Dr Fredrics to discuss the scheduling of his lecture topics, as Dr Fredrics requested?
Could it have been because Dr Gartrell had made it known to Dr Archbold that he should bring all concerns directly to HER instead of attempting to discuss them with Dr Fredrics, as would be normal in the course of daily interactions among colleagues?
Why did Dr Gartrell take the unprecedented step of involving herself in the content and scheduling of module lectures within a particular module?
Could it have been because she wanted to undermine Dr Fredrics' role as Module Leader, a role he had held for several years, and which he knew full well how to exercise?
After all, if she really wanted to offer positive constructive criticism to Dr Fredrics, could she not have written a private email message or arranged an in- person meeting with him, without copying Dr Archbold into her email reprimand of Dr Fredrics?
Is what Dr Gartrell did proper management or workplace bullying?
What do YOU think?
Harrassment During Approved Leave
Among the many allegations made by Carol Gartrell against Dr Fredrics was an allegation that, in September 2004, Dr Fredrics failed in one of his primary duties by not marking reassessment work in a timely fashion.
Without going into too much detail about whether or not her allegation was true (it was not), the fact is that Dr Gartrell repeatedly contacted Dr Fredrics while he was on approved leave for the purpose of caring for his ill elderly parents. In fact, upon his arrival in the US, he discovered that emergency medical personnel were tending to his mother, and she ended up being taken to hospital in serious condition.
But this circumstance was apparently not serious enough for Dr Gartrell to leave Dr Fredrics be, so that he could look after his mother's health interests.
Instead, Dr Gartrell phoned Dr Fredrics on his mobile, leaving an ominous and threatening message, and continued to email Dr Fredrics while he was on leave to chase him up about supposedly missing work.
Dr Fredrics found her email and phone messages to be quite upsetting and offensive, as he viewed them as part of a pattern of harassment by Dr Gartrell.
The following is a portion of the the sequence of correspondence between Dr Fredrics, Ms Gloria Toplis (Course Director), Ms Sarah Winter (Course Administrator) and Dr Gartrell:-
During the course of an 'independent' investigation by Mr Zafar Ali of a collective grievance filed against Dr Fredrics by a number of his colleagues, including Dr Gartrell, the matter of Dr Gartrell's allegation that Dr Fredrics had failed to mark work in a timely manner came up for discussion.
Although Dr Fredrics was, on one hand, cited for his use of language in raising legitimate concerns, Mr Ali refused to consider Dr Gartrell's use of language and/or conduct towards Dr Fredrics in his investigation of Dr Gartrell's allegations against Dr Fredrics.
Does Mr Ali appear to hold Dr Fredrics to a double standard of conduct and use of language?
Listen to a recording of a portion of a meeting with Mr Ali, Chris Wills (Dr Fredrics' union rep.) and Dr Fredrics:
Does it strike you as fair for Mr Ali to have disregarded allegations by Dr Fredrics that Dr Gartrell had harassed him?
Keep in mind the fact that Dr Gartrell had also accused Dr Fredrics of making false allegations that she had harassed him.
Should a truly fair-minded and independent investigation take into account the context surrounding a set of events?
Did what Dr Gartrell wrote and said by way of phone messages amount to bullying and/or harassment?
Bear in mind the fact that she copied her email reprimand of Dr Fredrics to a senior manager.
What do YOU think?
Isolation and Disempowerment
Another form of workplace bullying involves removing the bullying target from the normal process of consulting or informing staff about decisions that affect their daily work, thereby effecting the disempowerment of the target.
Dr Fredrics, who was most certainly one of the primary expert users in his teaching and research of School recording and post-production facilities, was not consulted nor was he informed about a move of the teaching of MA students from a room that had been reserved for their use (Rm 542) into a room that had been previously used by larger numbers of undergraduate students (Rm 523).
The move was, in large part, motivated by instability of the software/hardware system in the previously reserved MA studio, which the School's technician was unable to sort out, and about which students had complained bitterly. Clearly, there was, indeed, a legitimate problem that needed addressing.
But, instead of consulting with Dr Fredrics to enlist his help as a valued member of the team to sort out the problems in the MA studio and, failing a successful outcome, to examine the best options and procedures for actioning them, an irrational and hasty last-minute decision to blame the studio room itself for the software problems was taken, some of the equipment was moved out into the undergraduate studio, and the MA studio was simply abandoned and left in an unusuable and unused state, thereby reducing the overall available studio space for all students and staff in the School.
The result of the move was, indeed, to take a toll on the ability of Dr Fredrics (as well as that of other staff and students) to use the studio, and therefore, impacted on the teaching of a wide range of modules throughout the School, both at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
The following is an email exchange between Dr Fredrics and Dr Gartrell after Dr Fredrics first learned about the studio move:-
Dr Fredrics expressed his understandable disappointment with the lack of consultation and communication with him during this process. All staff members involved in the use of studios in the School should have been consulted/informed before such a change was actioned, in order to ensure that their concerns were taken into proper account, in the best interest of the School as a whole.
Why was Dr Fredrics excluded from the process of consultation and communication?
Did Dr Gartrell apologize for the lapse in communication and promise to see to it that such lapses did not recur?
Or did she simply copy Dr Fredrics' email to several of his colleagues, along with her sharply worded rebuttal invalidating Dr Fredrics' concerns?
Why did she do this, rather than simply replying to Dr Fredrics in a private email?
Does this seem like proper management practice to you?
Or did Dr Gartrell's forward of Dr Fredrics' confidential email with her response merely serve as a public rebuke and humilliation of Dr Fredrics?
What do YOU think?
When disciplinary charges were brought up against Dr Fredrics, citing allegations for which he NEVER SAW WITNESS STATEMENTS, Dr Fredrics brought forth statements from witnesses whom the University refused to interview.
Here are examples of relevant excerpts from these statements:-
What other things could be contained in those alleged statements?
Do the alleged statements even EXIST?
If they exist, do the alleged witness statements implicate Personnel/HR for their role in orchestrating the ultra vires collective grievance?
In a recent interview, when asked whether or not the University had initially been given a copy of his alleged notes from interviews with complainants, the University's own 'independent' investigator, Zafar Ali has this to say:
"..and I thought they [HR/Personnel] wanted all my notes. And I met with them, saying 'you can't have my notes because they told us things that may affect Human Resources.'"
Mr Ali explained further that he couldn't very well turn over the notes to HR/Personnel because he might later have to question them on their contents.
What WAS in those alleged notes? Were there, indeed, statements that implicated HR/Personnel in orchestrating the collective grievance?
If so, is THAT the REAL reason why the University has, to date, refused to turn over signed statements from complainants?
Induction or Instruction in Bullying Methods?
In April, 2007, Dr Fredrics had a rather extraordinary conversation with a staff member at Kingston University.
This staff member recounted an experience where she/he attended an induction session for senior staff at which staff were given instruction by the HR Director on how to get rid of junior staff by inflicting psychological pain on them, which would either make them so ill that they would be forced to resign, or else, cause them to act out, thereby creating a case to dismiss on grounds of misconduct.
The conversation also revealed new evidence of another case of bullying in the Faculty.
Here are a partially redacted set of contemporaneous notes of that conversation:-
Contemporaneous Notes of Telephone Conversation with REDACTED, held on evening of 26.4.07 ca. 9:30 p.m.
HF asked when the "training sessions" with Liz Lanchbery (Liz Scholey) took place.
REDACTED: said that they were "Induction Sessions" for new appointees to senior posts, conducted by Liz Lanchbery (Liz Scholey)- i.e. during fall of 2001 (approx. October)
HF asked who else attended.
REDACTED indicated that:
Attendees included (among others):
n.b REDACTED added that he/she "may still have the list of attendees."
Further potentially useful background information:
REDACTED said that "there is, apparently, a pattern of bullying in the faculty" (FASS)
REDACTED said that her/his now former union rep and KU employee (REDACTED) told her/him that REDACTED - head of research in FASS, and head of psychology/sociology was accused in a rather serious bullying case - He [REDACTED] has just now been able to take full retirement, which I believe that he's doing as of the end of this academic year. REDACTED said she/he just saw RECACTED's job posted.
REDACTED said that REDACTED is REDACTED'S husband. She has, apparently, "on a number of occasions, come to his defence" in relation to bullying accusations.
REDACTED said that he/she, him/herself, attended one meeting with REDACTED, which she/he referred to as being "extraordinary," and that he/she "could not believe how aggressively and hostile he [REDACTED] behaved."
REDACTED said that REDACTED told him/her that he felt quite upset by having to defend REDACTED whom he knew was guilty. REDACTED said that in her/his opinion, it may very well be that part of the reason that REDACTED left his KU post and his position as union rep is because of how upset that he felt over having to defend (quite vigorously, as part of his normal union responsibilities) REDACTED, whom he knew was guilty of bullying, and whom was, at the same time, not held to full account by the University for his actions (i.e. the target of his bullying was not given the satisfaction of having his grievance upheld).
REDACTED said that she/he presumes that the bullying target had resigned, thereafter, to take a job elsewhere, but he/she doesn't know for certain what happened to him/her, as REDACTED didn't tell her/him the person's name.
Do you think it should be normal practice to instruct senior staff on how to bully junior staff?
Should managers be permitted to use their power to defend their staff member spouses against bullying charges?
Does this account suggest that a systemic culture of bullying exists at Kingston University?
What do YOU think?
Mr Adam Solomon, Barrister-at-Law
"In order to succeed in a claim under the 1997 [Protection from Harassment] Act, Dr Fredrics must also demonstrate that Kingston is vicariously liable for the acts of its employees on which he relies. In my opinion, he would be able to demonstrate this.
In my opinion, it is arguable that Kingston should have been able to foresee that stress would cause Dr Fredrics personal injury, on the basis that he informed them prior to his employment that he suffered from depression. Further, as from the time of receipt of the document at Tab 2 (the undated note from Wendy in Occupational Health), Kingston were on notice that Dr Fredrics was being caused stress from the working environment."
Does Kingston University
Have A Culture of Bullying
The following is an example of a response from the Director of Personnel, Liz Lanchbery (Scholey) after she was informed that a staff member who had filed a grievance, which was not upheld by Mrs Lanchbery, had decided to excercise her right to resort to normal University appeals procedures.
This e-mail was sent to to the Dean overseeing the staff member, and indicates a clear intent to deny the staff member her statutory right of appeal by moving straight to a final disciplinary hearing, with an eye towards dismissing her forthwith.
Do you think that it was appropriate and within the bounds of normal dignity-at-work discourse for the Director of Personnel to refer in such disparaging terms to a staff member by asserting that she was insane?
Is the use of such language a form of workplace bullying?
Does it appear to you that staff at Kingston University who exercise their legal right of appeal are being victimized by being prematurely subjected to disciplinary proceedings and dismissal on the supposed grounds that pursuing such an appeal automatically means that working relationships have irretrievably broken down, and that such a breakdown is solely the fault of the staff member?
Does it seem to you that this basis for dismissal, also known as "SOSR" (Some Other Substantial Reason) is being used by Mrs Lanchbery as a ruse to punish staff members, who are merely trying to have their concerns addressed to the full extent permitted under normal University procedures, with an eye towards improving their working conditions?
In this specific instance, if the staff member was not prepared to simply be transferred to another faculty on a temporary basis (for six months) as a first option, and if she instead preferred to have the root causes of her concerns resolved, whilst at the same time moving on a permanent basis to a different faculty, via the vehicle of an appeal to the Vice-Chancellor and, if necessary, the Board of Governors, was it right for Mrs Lanchbery to attempt to circumvent University grievance procedures by advocating her dismissal?
Mrs Lanchbery appears to suggest that if the staff member were to be disciplined and dismissed that any appeal to the Board of Governors would be preordained to fail ("we would get it all over in 1 appeal."). How did she KNOW in advance that a decision to dismiss would be taken by Prof. Davis following a disciplinary hearing, and that it would all be "over," unless she also knew something specific about the history and normal practice of the Board of Governors with respect to whether or not it would hear a dismissal appeal by a staff member in a fair and unbiased manner?
If Mrs Lanchbery was having difficulty with the notion of following normal grievance procedures, (a central duty of her position), which includes facillitating the right of an employee to appeal an initial unfavorable decision, should she have, instead, considered resigning her position as Director of Personnel?
Based on what you have read on this site, does Kingston University appear to have a practice of breaching statutory grievance procedures?
If so, do you think this is a fair and reasonable way to conduct business?
What do YOU think?
How Does Bullying Affect The Lives Of Students
At Kingston University?
The following is from a letter received from a current student at Kingston University. Names and other identifiers have been redacted at the request of the student, who fears retribution: -
"I would like to remain anonymous until at least after I graduate but bullying within
Kingston University is not just limited to academic staff. Students particularly postgraduate
students are bullied if they raise any grievance about the way that the university is run,
some are threatened with suspension from their course. A part time [DEPARTMENT
REDACTED] professor , [NAME REDACTED] I think his name is has made allegations to his
students about the bullying of staff/postgraduate students including to the point that
several of them left/dropped out.
The university would often use technicalities to suspend students, one student who had a
grievance about the university was suspended for a week because he forgot to update a
change in his term time address for example. There is an article in this issue of the River
that claims one student was bullied by her fellow students who when she made a formal
complaint was suspended from her course for a day. For lack of attendance (she wasn't
attending because she was getting bullied).
One way to test what I am saying is to make a FOI request for reasons why students have
been suspended from the university and watch them either delay or not honour it. It is
The student union lacks enough independence from the university to deal with this issue.
The [NAME OF CLUB REDACTED] club was threatened with having its funding removed if it
didnt remove one student from it. This often encourages the clubs and societies to take
matters into their own hands and encourages student members of these clubs to
intimidate members of the club into leaving.
Bullying does not only occur among academic staff, It seems to be almost institutional. "
Articles on Workplace Bullying
Does any of this sound familiar from YOUR experience
working/studying at Kingston University ?
Indicators of Workplace Bullying/Mobbing:
Kenneth Westhues, 2006
As workplace mobbing becomes more widely known and deplored, it is to be expected that many workers in academe, as in other fields, will claim to be mobbed as a way of warding off criticism and strengthening their positions in office politics. Indeed, many workers will genuinely feel that they are being mobbed and will attribute lack of sympathy from others as proof that the others are part of the mob. It is therefore essential that any claimed or apparent case of mobbing be subjected to hard-nosed scrutiny in light of empirical indicators, measurable criteria by which to conclude that yes, this is a case of mobbing, or no, it is not.
Below is a checklist of 16 indicators or measures that I have used in my research, and offered on workshop handouts entitled, "WAMI, The Waterloo Anti-Mobbing Instruments (PDF)." In the introduction to my 2006 book, The Prevention and Remedy of Mobbing in Higher Education, I apply these 16 indicators systematically to two different mobbing cases, to illustrate variations on common themes. There is nothing sacred about the list. In my book, The Envy of Excellence, the 16 indicators are boiled down to ten. Perhaps the most important indicator is shown here as No. 12, the enlargement of some real or imagined misdeed or fault in order to smear the target's whole identity, so that he or she is seen as personally abhorrent — a totally alien other, a dangerous, repugnant entity that turns the stomachs of good and decent people.
25 Top Workplace Bully Tactics
Workplace bullies use many methods to intimidate their targets. Based on studies of toxic workplaces, the Workplace Bullying Institute has identified 25 of the Top Workplace Bully Tactics employed by workplace bullies:
1 Falsely accused someone of "errors" not actually made (71 percent).
2 Stared, glared, was nonverbally intimidating and was clearly showing hostility (68 percent).
3 Discounted the person's thoughts or feelings ("oh, that's silly") in meetings (64 percent).
4 Used the "silent treatment" to "ice out" and separate from others (64 percent).
5 Exhibited presumably uncontrollable mood swings in front of the group (61 percent).
6 Made up own rules on the fly that even she/he did not follow (61 percent).
7 Disregarded satisfactory or exemplary quality of completed work despite evidence (58 percent).
8 Harshly and constantly criticized having a different standard for the target (57 percent).
9 Started, or failed to stop, destructive rumors or gossip about the person (56 percent).
10 Encouraged people to turn against the person being tormented (55 percent).
11 Singled out and isolated one person from coworkers, either socially or physically (54 percent).
12 Publicly displayed "gross," undignified, but not illegal, behavior (53 percent).
13 Yelled, screamed, threw tantrums in front of others to humiliate a person (53 percent).
14 Stole credit for work done by others (47 percent).
15 Abused the evaluation process by lying about the person's performance (46 percent).
16 Declared target "insubordinate" for failing to follow arbitrary commands (46 percent).
17 Used confidential information about a person to humiliate privately or publicly (45 percent).
18 Retaliated against the person after a complaint was filed (45 percent).
19 Made verbal put-downs/insults based on gender, race, accent or language, disability (44 percent).
20 Assigned undesirable work as punishment (44 percent).
21 Created unrealistic demands (workload, deadlines, duties) for person singled out (44 percent).
22 Launched a baseless campaign to oust the person; effort not stopped by the employer (43 percent).
23 Encouraged the person to quit or transfer rather than to face more mistreatment (43 percent).
24 Sabotaged the person's contribution to a team goal and reward (41 percent).
25 Ensured failure of person's project by not performing required tasks, such as sign-offs, taking calls, working with collaborators (40 percent)
Outcomes of Workplace Bullying
An article in the Monitor on Psychology
Publication of the American Psychological Association
Volume 37, No. 7 July/August 2006 issue
Worrying for a Living?
Bullying in the office can cause headaches, heartache and other health threats.
By Laurie Meyers
No matter how hard you try to meet demands at work, your boss's feedback becomes increasingly hostile and abusive. Project requirements change after you've completed the task as assigned. Your boss resents being asked for clarification, tells you that you are unskilled and ignorant, threatens to fire you and undermines your reputation with co-workers and upper management. You feel isolated and scared. At night you have trouble sleeping, and you wake up with a headache. You don't know it, but your blood pressure has skyrocketed.
Although this kind of scenario is common -- 33 percent of workers have been verbally abused at work, according to a 2000 national survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University -- it is anything but acceptable, psychologists say. Other forms of abuse include withholding information necessary to complete work assignments, ostracizing co-workers, name-calling and spreading rumors. Such maltreatment can occur between supervisor and subordinate or among co-workers. Sometimes the behavior can be subtle, but the effects are often large: Workplace bullying can cause physical, emotional and behavioral problems that take a toll on workers' health and productivity, researchers have found.
In fact, findings suggest chronically bullied workers experience nearly constant levels of anxiety, says Kevin Kelloway, PhD, senior research fellow at the Canadian National Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. "When you're exposed to this kind of stuff, it just eats away at you," he says.
A personal problem
Specifically, bullying undermines self-confidence by causing confusion and embarrassment, according to a 2003 World Health Organization (WHO) publication on psychological harassment at work. Related psychological symptoms can include depression, anxiety and panic attacks, irritability, apathy, hyperarousal, insecurity and intrusive thoughts.
Evidence of this comes from research by St?le Einarsen, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Bergen in Norway. Einarsen has researched bullying among a variety of Norwegian workers, including teachers, hotel and restaurant employees, clerks, electricians, psychologists, health-care workers and industrial workers. In his studies, bullied participants often became increasingly suspicious, anxious, nervous and depressed. Many also had trouble sleeping and completing their work. In extreme cases, often involving longtime bullying, exclusion and systematic devaluation, as many as 75 percent of participants showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In one 2004 study, published in the British Journal of Guidance & Counselling (Vol. 32, No. 3, pages 335 356), Einarsen and Stig Berge Matthiesen, PhD, compared a group of 180 currently or formerly bullied workers -- most of whom had been bullied for more than two years or more -- with victims of stressful events, such as going through a divorce or attending medical school. These bullying victims showed significantly higher levels of psychiatric distress than other groups, and also had higher post-traumatic stress scores than a comparison group that included U.N. personnel who had recently returned from a war zone.
Sick and tired
Unfortunately, bullying victims often compound the problem with unhealthy coping strategies, says psychologist Kathleen Rospenda, PhD, a psychiatry professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Indeed, victims sometimes cope by abusing alcohol: Nondrinkers don't suddenly become drinkers, but those who normally drink may start drinking much more, she explains, which can lead to performance problems at work, exacerbating the situation.
Also typical for bullied people are irritability, social withdrawal and family conflict, which can contribute to feelings of isolation. The escalation of symptoms usually stops once the bullying ends, but some victims still feel some effects a year or more after leaving a bullying environment.
Bullying doesn't just affect the mind; it can also harm the body. High blood pressure, palpitations, cardiovascular disease, migraines, fatigue, muscle pain and ulcers are just some of the health effects that WHO has linked to bullying.
And bullying may hurt the heart. In a 2003 study of 5,432 Finnish hospital employees, published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Vol. 60, No. 10, pages 779 783), researchers found that prolonged bullying resulted in an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. Since many of the victims also gained weight during the bullying period, some of the risk may be attributable to excessive weight gain, they noted.
A no-win situation
Adding to bullying's toll is its entrenchment. Employees who speak out or fight back often face retaliation, according to a 2001 study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology (Vol. 8, No. 4, pages 247 265). The authors found that bullied employees who spoke out by confronting the bullying individual were frequently harassed or ostracized by co-workers. In some cases -- especially when the bully held a position of power -- they were fired, demoted, involuntarily transferred or given a poor performance review.
Bullying is bad for the health of organizations as well. Bullied employees may become less willing or able to work as hard or as efficiently. Many bullied employees end up quitting or are fired. In addition, employees who witness bullying sometimes experience similar health or stress problems or lose faith in the company.
And when employees remain in bullying situations, their increasing levels of anger and distress can spur disability. In fact, Einarsen's research suggests that bullying-related stress is a leading cause of employee absence and is more detrimental to health than overwork, long hours or even being unemployed.
Bullying escalation can also turn violent. While verbal abuse doesn't necessarily lead to physical aggression, almost all physical aggression is preceded by nonphysical aggression, Kelloway stresses.
Although society may often view bullying as a normal -- if unpleasant -- part of office culture, Kelloway, among others, sees a change in attitude as inevitable. Anxiety and cardiovascular disease are driving increased health-care costs -- hurting employers' bottom lines, he says. There is also growing awareness in many companies that bullying is no more acceptable than sexual or racial harassment. Some places, such as Norway and the Canadian province of Quebec, have even passed antibullying legislation.
As more findings emerge on bullying's negative effects, companies and employees elsewhere may also become less willing to bear the costs.
Published: 21 June 2002
Did you know?
* One teacher in three claims to have been bullied at work
* More than 90 per cent of reported cases of workplace bullying are caused by a serial bully
* Bullying is not a gender issue. But women make up 75 per cent of victims who seek help
* In 1998, a Northumberland primary teacher won £100,000 in an out-of-court settlement after he'd been bullied by his head
* There is no legislation that directly addresses bullying
Bullying is all about power. Bullies want control - control of their victims and of their environment.
Mention bullying and most people think of kids scrapping in the playground. Few of us see it as an adult problem, destroying careers and families or causing long-term psychological and emotional damage. But research published by the University of Manchester, Institute of Science and Technology (Umist) in April 2000, found that one in four workers in the UK had experienced bullying in the workplace at some point in the previous five years. For teachers, the figure was markedly higher - with more than one in three claiming to have been bullied and a further 20 per cent saying they had seen bullying. And if the prevalence of workplace bullying is startling, so too are the consequences. A run-in with a bully can cause stress, permanently damaged self-esteem, psychiatric injury and even suicide.
What is bullying?
Each case is unique, but calls to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and its website, Bully OnLine, reveal common experiences - constant, trivial nit-picking and destructive criticism, combined with a refusal to value or acknowledge performance and achievements. This can come from a colleague, a manager, a governor or a parent. It can be directed at anyone from a headteacher to a newly qualified teacher.
Bullying can be physical - intimidating body language, even a slap or a punch - but as adults it is more likely to be a case of long-term psychological attrition. The bully will try to isolate his or her victim by turning colleagues against the person. Rumours might be spread about a victim's mental health or ability to do the job. A bullying manager might set the victim up to fail - contriving to allocate the worst classes, the most time-consuming schedule and the fewest resources.
Bullying can be a drawn-out and subtle process, so it is often difficult for others to know exactly what is going on, but it does seem possible to identify certain conditions in which bullying can flourish. A major school reorganisation or the appointment of a new manager or headteacher are common triggers for an episode. Bullying among staff is also closely linked to "unhappy" schools - although it's not clear whether the bullying is the cause of disaffection or the result of it.
Who are the bullies?
Conforming to one victim's description of a "convincing and practised liar with a Jekyll and Hyde nature", the adult bully is often charming. He or she is usually verbally confident and can be adept at using language to make his or her actions seem plausible. But there are several indicators that under the sweet talk all may not be well. These include random and impulsive decision-making, an obsession with conformity and procedures, an inability to distinguish the important from the trivial, an officious manner and petty-mindedness. Many bullies are emotionally or professionally insecure, but this will rarely show. What will come across is arrogance and a constant denial of any wrong-doing.
More than 90 per cent of reported cases are caused by a serial bully. Bullying is not just a matter of taking a dislike to someone - it's a more deep-rooted psychological problem that means the bully moves easily from victim to victim. And, as in the playground, those who are bullied are likely to bully others.
Who are the victims?
Victims may do nothing to attract bullying - they may just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But bullies will often target people they consider a threat - perhaps because they are good at their job or because they are popular. A typical target is conscientious, competent and well liked by colleagues, pupils and parents. By contrast, bullies are usually disliked by all - except their superiors - and jealous of attention given to others. Getting recognition for work well done may be enough to trigger their unwanted attentions. Often a victim will have a vulnerability which the bully can exploit - needing to pay the mortgage, being a single parent, or living alone, having caring responsibilities, going through separation, divorce or bereavement, or belonging to a minority. Usually it is those who are least able to pack in their job to escape who are most likely to be victimised.
The caring professions seem particularly vulnerable to bullying. Teachers and lecturers consistently form the largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line (about 20 per cent of 6,000 cases over six years). But the health service and the police force also figure prominently. Perhaps public service workers are vulnerable because the bullied employee feels a responsibility to others. But Professor Cary Cooper of Umist argues that it's the unique pressure of the public services that creates a culture of bullying. "There are no more psychopathic bullies in teaching than in any other profession," he says. "But there's another type of bully, the one who can't cope and takes it out on others. Excessive initiatives, heavy workload and a lack of resources are likely to breed more of these overload bullies."
How do bullies work?
Bullying is all about power. Bullies want control - of their victim and their environment. And their main instrument of control is criticism. A colleague may focus on alleged underperformance. A manager may criticise everything from professional conduct to personal appearance. To correct the alleged failing, the victim jumps through more and more hoops, but the harder victims work, and the more they achieve, the greater the bully's insecurity. This damaging cycle often ends in the victim facing disciplinary procedures or a stress breakdown - or both. The bully then selects someone else to pick on and starts all over again.
Isolating victims from their friends and colleagues is key to a bully's tactics. The effects of this should not be underestimated - it can be emotionally and psychologically damaging. In a bullying workplace, colleagues are often afraid to stand up for the victim in case they become targets themselves. Those who speak out for friends being bullied or who blow the whistle on a bullying environment have been shown to be future targets.
As serial bullies move up the professional ladder, they become more and more able to abuse their power. So although not all bullies are managers - indeed, it's possible to bully your superiors - it is often most difficult to deal with problems arising from those who are in a position of power.
Bullying is not a gender issue. But men are most likely to be physically harassing or aggressive, whereas many female bullies rely on the psychological tactics of exclusion, isolation, manipulation, deception - and charm. Women, however, make up 75 per cent of victims who seek help. The stigma of being bullied and the fear of being labelled a wimp keep many men quiet in the hope that they can handle it, or it will go away. It won't.
Those who can, do; those who can't, bully There are many myths surrounding bullying, including the perception that it's "tough management" and "you've got to bully people to get the job done". But research shows that a toxic working environment where threat, coercion and blame are commonplace will be characterised by low morale, disaffection and demotivation. There's also likely to be a high level of sickness absence and a quick turnover of staff. All of which means standards fall and the pupils lose out. The Umist research asked participants to rate their own productivity. Those who hadn't been bullied believed they were working at more than 90 per cent of their capacity; those who had been bullied estimated they were working at around 60 per cent.
Bullying isn't tough management - it's bad management. But inevitably there will be times when senior teachers have to apply pressure to their colleagues, and it's important to remember that not all criticism is bullying. Good managers, though, are open and honest. They keep detailed documentation of any meetings or reprimands, and have a clear grievance procedure should you be unhappy with their actions.
Just grin and bear it?
No. Bullying is not to be taken lightly. It can last for years, with victims continuing to do their jobs under increasingly stressful circumstances. The result is cumulative injury to victims' health. They can, for instance, suffer many of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including a compromised immune system, sleep problems, excessive guilt, irritability, hypervigilance (which feels like paranoia, but isn't), constant anxiety, reactive depression and suicidal thoughts. Stress is now officially the number one cause of sickness absence from work, and the Umist research found that bullying in the workplace was a key factor in more than one in three stress cases. While there are other contributing factors to stress, including excessive workloads and long hours, it's no coincidence that bullying and stress frequently go together.
Art Against Workplace Bullying
Art has the ability to focus attention on the perpetrators of bullying as well as on the impact of bullying on targets.
But most of all, art can transform the negative experience of being bullied into a positive expression, into a work of poetic beauty with its own intrinsic aesthetic value. Thus, through truth and beauty, the bully loses the battle and fails in his/her attempts at destruction of the target's spirit.
The following is taken from a series of interviews by Salvatore Fiore with media artists, Howard & Lori Fredrics on the role of art in combatting bullying, and the ways in which workplaces with a culture of bullying can lead to stifling self-censorship of artists working within the organization.
Words of Support
Posted on Bullied Academics Blogspot
February 29, 2008
Expression of support for Howard Fredrics
Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 8:19 AM
Subject: Expression of support for Howard Fredrics
I would like to express my concern about the workplace mobbing problems at Kingston University. I am particularly concerned about the case of Howard Fredrics, who used to be employed as a senior lecturer in music.
I understand that eleven colleagues 'paid him back' for making a complaint of administrative ill-treatment. And that their behaviour has affected Howard's health and his career. I understand that one other academic at your university has already been driven to suicide by workplace abuse.
I urge all members of the staff of Kingston University to desist from workplace abuse and mobbing behaviour.
XXXXX XXXXX (Name Withheld)
LONDON (Reuters) - Middle-aged men earning between 20,000 and 60,000 pounds in Britain's sprawling public sector are most likely to get bullied at work, said a survey on Friday which showed one in seven workers have faced abuse.
The YouGov survey for the Trades Union Congress (TUC) showed more than a fifth of workers say bullying is a problem where they work.
"Every organisation needs to have an anti-bullying policy, and every manager should ensure that there is zero-tolerance of bullying either by line managers or workmates," said Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary.
Nearly a fifth of public sector staff say they have been bullied, compared with just over one in ten in the private sector and eight in every hundred doing voluntary work.
"It is not the low paid who are most likely to say they are bullied," the survey said. "Those earning less than 20,000 pounds report much less bullying than those earning between 20,000 and 60,000."
And 16 percent of men, compared to 12 percent of women, say they have had to put up with abuse in the workplace, with 45 to 54 year olds most often targeted.
(Editing by Matthew Jones)
THE 2014 Best University Workplace Survey
Reveals Widespread Bullying in UK Higher Education
"Within my department there is poor morale, cases of bullying, distinct favouritism and unequal workload allocation," says a London-based lecturer. "[It's] hard to resolve this as some of the people in power are the offenders."
In total, there were more than 100 comments referring to institutionalised bullying or the victimisation of staff members.
An administrator at one post-1992 institution sums up many of the concerns discussed. "There is a high level of bullying that takes place within the institution and it is always the victim that leaves and moves on," she says.
"Some bullies have had complaints raised about them on numerous occasions but the institution does nothing about it. It's almost like management are actually scared to take on the bullies and question their behaviour."
Meanwhile, a manager at another university describes high levels of bullying, being told to keep quiet, "forced 'gardening leave' [and] intimidatory behaviour by senior managers", while an academic at a Welsh university laments "bullying by middle management to get the results senior management want", alleging that the practice had even led to "mark manipulation".
Source: THE Best University Workplace Survey