Catherine M. Mattice is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and she has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Chevron, the American Red Cross, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and non-profits. She has been published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared as an expert in major news outlets including NPR, FOX, NBC, ABC, USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, Washington Times, Psychology Today and Bloomberg. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter, and one of the founders (and current president of) the National Workplace Bullying Coalition. In his foreword to her book, Back Off! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying @ Work, Ken Blanchard said it was “The most comprehensive and valuable handbook” on workplace bullying. BACK OFF, and her second book, “Seeking Civility : How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying”, are both available on Amazon.
Yanique shared that the issue of bullying seems like something that’s not affected by a lot of organizations but it really is a widespread issue.
Catherine agreed and stated that they call it the silent epidemic in the U.S.A lot of other countries actually have laws around workplace bullying but America does not. So, it’s just as pervasive if not more so than harassment and discrimination because it’s really equal opportunity harassment and so there is a lot of it. A lot of people feel bullied at work, in fact research puts that number at around 30 to 50 percent of people have been bullied at some point in their working life.
Yanique stated that it’s interesting that Catherine mentioned that it’s such a high percentage and asked if she believe that it filtrates out of the education system because a lot of kids are bullied in schools as well.
Catherine stated that she thinks that we are all mean, the society at large is mean, look at TV, it’s all full of mean drama. Reality TV is mean, politics they’re mean, we’re mean when we’re on the road, we can be uncivil if someone’s going too slow or cut us off. We tend to have this propensity to sort of lash out and we live in a high stress environment because we’re always on our phones, we always have someplace to be and so she thinks it’s harder to be kind and to take a step back and be nice and take a breath and focus on civility. It’s easier to let your frustrations get the best of you. And in school certainly bullying happens and there is some research that’s found that if you bully as a child you probably bully as an adult. And also, if you’re a target as a child you may be a target as an adult.
Yanique asked what if the leader is a bully himself?
Catherine shared that she gets that question a lot. She stated that she honestly hates to give this advice but you have to leave. If the CEO or the leader is a bully, there probably isn’t anyway that leaders going to hear anyone out if the leader is told people perceive you as too abrasive. Sometimes an HR professional or maybe someone close to the leader in the C-Suite depending on their relationship can have a conversation with the leader and maybe able to be heard. But in her experience, leaders believe that sort of abrasive aggressive leadership style has worked for them and so they’re not going to be interested in changing unless you can really show them the damage they’re causing. People can change, she coaches people who are bullies all the time but the CEO or the leader, unless somebody is close enough to that person to have that conversation she would say you may want to consider leaving because the culture is not going to get any better.
Yanique mentioned if the leader is a bully as Catherine said and she recommend that they leave. Do you feel that even though you said you believe people can change but a big part of change means that they have to become self-aware that something needs to change because many of them would be like, “Well the problem isn’t me, it’s them.” She has heard that so many times in organizations when employees make complaints and a lot of times that the complaints are being made, they’re not willing to accept that sometimes the issue is not necessarily with the other person but sometimes we need to look internally and look at how we could be doing things differently because maybe if we take a different approach you will get a different result.
Yanique mentioned that some companies have core values that their employees don’t even believe in.
Catherine agreed and stated that that goes back to it though, she sees this all the time, companies have core values and they’re on their website and maybe they’re on a sign somewhere in the lunchroom and that’s the extent of it, so how can employees believe in those core values when they’re not part of their day in and day out life. It’s up to the organization to say, “Here are our core values. This is how we want everyone to behave.” And then the organization has to find ways to advertise those core values regularly and ensure that employees know them and live them regularly.
Yanique mentioned that it’s like you’re basically trying to find new and innovative ways to reinforce and basically have lots of repetition. So, now it becomes a part of their DNA. So, if courtesy is one of your core values, in everything you do you try to effect courtesy that way when you’re dealing with external customer it’s not something that you’re trying to put on, it comes so naturally because it’s something that you practice every day anyway.
Yanique stated that she knows exactly what she means in terms of them not seeing the value in it. And as Catherine said, it really boils down to the value system of the individuals that you’re dealing with and what they deem of importance.
Yanique reiterate, help them find meaning in what they’re doing. Therefore, there must be a direct link between what the company’s goals are and what the personal goals of the employee is because if those two things actually have some congruence then both entities actually have a win-win situation.
Catherine agreed and gave an example of that, she was doing some training for a company that kills mosquitoes, that’s their business. She was doing some training and on a break, she just sort of asked the trainee sitting next to her, “Tell me more about your business, what you do?” and she said, “Well, we killed mosquitoes. That’s about it.” That’s all she got. And this other person sitting next to her says, “Is that all you think we’re doing here? We are saving this community from West Nile Virus.” He was offended that she thought all they did was kill mosquitoes and so he believes he’s saving the community from this horrible disease by killing mosquitoes and killing mosquitoes was a means to the end goal of saving that community. So that’s what she’s talking about, help reminding your employees that there’s a bigger picture beyond their tasks.
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Yanique reiterated, basically freedom of choice is something that we all have regardless of the situation that we’re in. And that’s a great privilege. So, we should definitely try to exercise it as much as possible.
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