Odds are you have a boss who doesn’t care about you as a human being

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Some say there are two types of bosses: those who care about the company and the people who work there, and those who care about their own power and egos. Those who care about the company and bring out the strengths of their people create more success. But those who care about power and their egos more than their companies prove to struggle getting results, and 60% of managers are bad at their jobs says Business Insider reporter Drake Baer in the article “Narcissism and other reasons why more than 60% of managers are bad at their jobs.”

Narcissistic bosses manage people’s impressions of them and often rise to power because they’ve manipulated others all while displaying confidence and charisma. “Leaders who are too narcissistic are convinced they are right, sensitive to criticism, and may ignore valid warnings. Because they lack empathy, they are not sensitive to the impact of their behavior on others, and they may act out. Steve Jobs was known to berate and publicly humiliate subordinates,” says Claremont McKenna College leadership professor Ronald E. Riggio.

How workplace bullying can lead to homelessness

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There’s a stereotype that homelessness results from physical and mental disabilities. But experts say that most homeless people “have been thrust into homelessness by a life-altering event or series of events that were unexpected and unplanned for” (Homeaid.org).

According to Homeaid, those life-altering events or series of events include:

  • Loss of loved ones
  • Domestic violence
  • Divorce and other family disputes
  • Job loss

Experts believe that addressing these issues can help end homelessness in America.

A deeper look into job loss
Job loss often results from mistreatment. While some find themselves unemployed after firing from poor work performance or layoffs from cutting expenses, many are either forced out or quit from mistreatment. In fact, 66% of aggrieved employees quit to end the bullying says The Conference Board Review. (Even if employees don’t quit from bullying, depression and post traumatic stress disorder alone from bullying can send them on the streets, according to Homeaid.org.)

Let’s look at the number of people at-risk for homelessness due to job loss:

  • Roughly one in three Americans will suffer from workplace bullying. That’s around 33% of the workforce.
  • If 66% of those employees leave their jobs to end the bullying, then around 20% of all employees will likely leave their jobs to end bullying.
  • Statista.com reports that 125.5 million people work full-time in the U.S.. So roughly 25 million are at-risk to leave their jobs from workplace bullying. That’s about the number of people who live in the entire state of Texas.

Sure, many of those employees leave for another job. But if the bullying is brutal enough, many employees are forced to choose between the lesser of two stresses: the toll on their health from bullying or living without an income. So many choose to leave rather than suffer the blow to their health, including depression, chronic anxiety, and even suicide contemplation.

With a steady income, those employees could likely manage paying for a car repair or illness. But when those who’ve been bullied out of work don’t have another job lined up or a strong support system and find themselves living in poverty or close to the poverty line, these once just annoying “everyday” life problems can put them out on the street.

And who knows how long taxpayers have to pay for services for targets of insecure bullies. According to one study, regaining employment at all and getting back to normal life doesn’t look promising. That means that getting off the streets or saving money to move out of assisted living in affordable housing to market rate housing doesn’t look hopeful either.

So who loses when a bully stays on payroll? Not just the target. And not just the business either. Taxpayers do when they’re left to fund services for some of the best employees who were simply in the path of insecure bosses. It’s not good for targets. It’s not good for businesses. And it’s not good for society.

Three ways to end workplace bullying in Massachusetts this fall

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We just finished up a full two-year legislative session to get the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill passed in Massachusetts. Some of you longtime advocates may be disappointed that a third session has gone by with no law passed. No law means more suffering, more stress, and even more suicide contemplation for workplace bullying targets.

But legislative change takes time and persistence. It takes education, awareness building, and passion. No social change happened overnight or even in just a couple years. School bullying legislation even took years to pass until the suicide of student Phoebe Prince catapulted the topic to an urgent level. (We’re looking for those stories.)

Where we’ve come
We’ve built huge momentum both inside and outside the State House:

  • Nearly 6,000 citizens to contact at each step in the two-year process
  • Almost 1/3 of the entire State Legislature as official bill sponsors in the last session, up from 1/5 of the entire State Legislature in the previous session

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 10.46.57 AMFive short months
We have five short months until the next legislative session in January. It’s not a time to take a breather. Just the opposite. It’s time to further build up our masses inside and outside the State House. While we’re working on the logistics of a planning meeting this fall to focus on outside the State House, we need to continue working on inside the State House in these three ways:

  1. Email tool. Here’s the easy part: all you need is about 10 seconds to email your state rep and senator using this incredibly simple tool. If you do nothing else, that’s a huge help.
  2. Legislator meetings. What would be even better is to meet with your legislators, or even just one of them, locally or at the State House. All legislators have local office hours and State House office hours. Schedule a meeting, share why you want the bill to pass, and know you’ve made a huge step toward making history. (If you can get a group of former or current colleagues or friends to go, even better.)
  3. Ripple effect. Share the email tool with colleagues and friends. The only thing simpler than using our email tool to write your legislators is to hit Share on this posting. You never know who the message will resonate with. If a friend shares with another friend, you might even take someone out of isolation or suicide contemplation. A little goes a long way.

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 9.57.36 AMStay tuned for information on our planning meeting. In the meantime, think about how you can help pass this bill.

And thank you for your efforts to help make workplace bullying illegal in Massachusetts. You’re already helping to make a difference in people’s lives when they learn the term “workplace bullying,” put a name to what they’re experiencing, and begin to heal.

How we made waves this legislative session and what our next steps are

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Advocate Torii Bottomley speaks with another advocate at the “Massachusetts: Face Workplace Bullying” display at the State House.

Legislation usually takes multiple sessions to pass. As the 2015-16 legislative session closes, let’s take some time to reflect on how we progressed the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill this session:

  • Third Reading. The bill made it to a Third Reading in the House – a major accomplishment given the thousands of bills introduced each session. The Third Reading is a major milestone in the process. Once the bill reaches a favorable vote in the House Third Reading in future sessions, we have a great shot at getting the bill passed.
  • Legislative sponsors. We gained a record 58 sponsors this session, up from 39 in the previous session and 13 in the prior session thanks to your calls, emails, and visits to legislators.
  • Advocacy. The State House debut of Torii Bottomley’s “Massachusetts: Face Workplace Bullying” jumpstarted a flurry of activity. Advocates protested in Ashburton Place, Harvard Square, and Davis Square. They also flyered several commuter lots, including at Worcester’s Union Station, the second display of “Massachusetts: Face Workplace Bullying.”
  • Supporters. We’re up to 20 official organizational supporters, including the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the National Association of Government Employees, whose lobbyists push the bill in the State House.
  • Media. While “workplace bullying” gets more and more attention in such outlets as Alternet and Fast Company, WGBH reporter Craig LeMoult covered the Massachusetts Healthy Workplace Bill and the “Massachusetts: Face Workplace Bullying” display this spring.
  • Opposition. “The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) — a powerful corporate lobbying presence — and a small group of ultra-conservative state legislators opposed the HWB. You know you’re making progress when the opposition comes out of hiding,” said professor and bill author David Yamada last session. An AIM executive weighed in on the bill in WGBH’s piece this session.

What’s next?
So how do we make the next session better than this one to get this bill passed?

  • Share suicide stories. School bullying didn’t become legislated in Massachusetts until tragedy struck. If you’re aware of a suicide due to workplace bullying in Massachusetts, email us at info@mahealthyworkplace.com. We’ll check in with families of targets, and with their approval, let legislators know their stories and how urgent the need is for legislation.
  • Get a group of people to visit the State House to speak with legislators. Get your co-workers or former colleagues to visit legislators to ask them to support the Healthy Workplace Bill.
  • Make advocacy happen. Have an idea for advocacy? A skill? An audience? An event? A contact? Rather than question why we haven’t done an idea, realize your own power. Make it happen. We’re all volunteers using the skills we have to further the cause and make change. We need your skills and time to further change. Email us at info@mahealthyworkplace.com with how you can help.

“So many social movements leading to legal reforms — the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the LGBT movement, to name a few — have been fueled by people who have experienced injustice and abuse,” said Yamada. If you’re ready, speak out about your workplace bullying experience to heal and help prevent others from experiencing workplace bullying if enough people stand up and legislators pass the bill. If enough of us say ENOUGH, we’ll make history and move the needle on workplace cultures just like sexual harassment law did.

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Advocates protest in Harvard Square with targets, scars, and bruises on them.

Pitching the Healthy Workplace Bill in the waning days of the MA legislative session — Minding the Workplace

The 2015-16 formal session of the Massachusetts Legislature ends at the end of the month, and we’re still in there pitching for the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB). In Massachusetts, as in most other states, legislative sessions run in two-year terms starting early in the odd year. Typically, there is a flurry of activity early […]

via Pitching the Healthy Workplace Bill in the waning days of the MA legislative session — Minding the Workplace

The major point that workplace bullies miss about how to lead effectively

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We talk about the tactics a workplace bully uses to exert his or her power over a target:

  • False accusations of mistakes and errors
  • Exclusion and “the silent treatment”
  • Withholding resources and information necessary to the job
  • Behind-the-back sabotage and defamation
  • Use of put-downs, insults, and excessively harsh criticism
  • Unreasonably heavy work demands
  • Rumors and gossip
  • Making offensive jokes or comments, verbally or in writing
  • Discounting achievements and stealing credit for ideas or work
  • Disciplining or threatening job loss without reason
  • Taking away work or responsibility without cause
  • Blocking requests for training, leave or promotion
  • Pestering, spying, stalking, or tampering with personal belongings and equipment

What great leadership looks like
So we know what dysfunctional behavior looks like. But what about great leadership? What outlook or tools does a great leader use to create healthy, happy, empowered employees that workplace bullies don’t?

In his article on Elevates.org “How to build a culture of architects,” writer Steven James Lawrence says we need to feel like we matter:

Movements throughout history have proven that this idea is universal to all human beings. More than feeling like we matter, we want to feel like we’re contributing. We want our specific skills, talents, and insights to be valued and utilized. We want to have a sense of agency in the work we do. We want to be architects.

Lawrence says that to get employees to feel like they matter, encourage these values:

1.  Participation
A healthy, successful organization not only invites participation in decision-making on all levels but also actively works to ensure that participation occurs. Participation can happen through weekly meetings, collaborative online documents, and democratized media threads, for example. The key is to create regular structures for participative decision making that guarantee that this is “the way we do business here.” However, meetings are only useful when there is a commitment to allowing all topics to be discussed.

2.  Open communication
Both verbal and written communication should be open as often as possible to encourage trust. By encouraging open communication, leaders can make it easy for people to surface difficult issues. Without open communication, misunderstandings may arise, undermining trust and losing an opportunity for exchanging ideas and creating innovative solutions.

3.  Shared responsibility
Most leadership researchers point out that the best leaders grow other leaders. The best leaders actively transfer authority and power to others. They know the organization rises and falls not on the power of charismatic individuals but on sustainable, mission-driven values and skills passed on to others.
By sharing leadership, we share responsibility. And most welcome it. It feels good to exercise all of our strengths and skills for the benefit of the organization’s mission. In this kind of culture, there is a real sense that the whole organization belongs to everyone in it. Shared responsibility can have an amazing impact on motivation and purpose.

For more information on how to lead well, visit Elevates.org.

Urgent action for anti-workplace bullying legislation in Massachusetts

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As we’re trying to move the anti-workplace bullying Healthy Workplace Bill (H 1771) through Third Reading in the House, we’ve been working with Senator Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster) for Senate action on the Bill. She has introduced the bill into the Senate Economic Development Bill as Amendment #94. It will be debated tomorrow, July 14, in the Senate.

We ask you to call and email your State Senators today and tomorrow and ask them to support Senate Amendment #94 to the Senate Economic Development Bill. (Since we’re still pushing the bill in the House before the end of the month, when the legislative session ends, avoid reference to the House’s resistance to date. We need the House to vote on the bill [Senate Amendment #94] if it makes it through the Senate as part of their Economic Development package.)

Use our easy tool to email your State Senator.