There is a lot of talk about the impact of workplace aggression on the target and the organization as the aggression is occurring.  There is little discussion about the long-term effect of workplace aggression on targets; especially those who continue to work in the aggressive environment.

Many targets of workplace aggression suffer long-term residual effects from victimization in the workplace that impact their personal and professional lives.  One of the outcomes of workplace violence is increased paranoia.  This results from continued abuse in the workplace where the target’s work is unnecessarily scrutinized and where they are continually blamed for incidents in the workplace.  For example, a worker who has experienced long-term workplace aggression via emails and cyber aggression may wince every time they hear their email notification.  They assume that each email will be another attack on them.  Thus, something as small as checking emails becomes problematic for the worker causing unnecessary stress and emotional responses.

Another consequence of being a target of workplace aggression is apathy.  Targets become emotionless, detached, and indifferent in an attempt to cope with workplace violence.  Apathy arises because of the lack of response by the organization and co-workers to take the allegations of workplace aggression serious.  Targets learn how to distant themselves from the violence in order to cope with the pain and emotions from workplace violence.  They become less responsive to the needs of the organization.

Targets also become immune to the surroundings and the aggression that they are experiencing.  Over time, the target develops a tolerance and the aggression becomes normal.  Therefore, what might seem inappropriate to an observer is part of daily work life for a target.  For example, a target may become accepting of profanity aimed at them because it has happened for so long without any consequence.  However, most of us know that swearing at a colleague is never acceptable. 

These are understandable responses for the target attempting to cope with workplace aggression.  However, in the workplace, these behaviors often reinforce what the aggressor(s) are saying about the target and legitimate coping reactions become even more problematic for the target. 

All of these responses to workplace aggression take its toll on a target in their personal life.  Targets spend all of their emotional momentum trying to survive the workplace violence.  As such, they often have little energy or vigor left to give to their personal life.  A target who may have been extremely dynamic can seemingly become a different person because they cannot keep up with the emotional trauma they are experiencing in the workplace.  The vicious tentacles of workplace aggression can curl and encircle the target, both personally and professionally, leaving a target traumatized and devastated.

If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent workplace aggression, please contact me immediately at jankircher@jankircher.com or (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at www.jankircher.com. Help is out there!! We can stop workplace aggression.

Higher education has been under a great deal of scrutiny over the last few months, particularly for financial reasons.  I have yet to hear any conversations that address the quality of education students are receiving in higher education today.

I have spent the last fifteen years in academics as a faculty member and have witnessed first-hand the changing landscape in higher education.  The academic rigor that universities and colleges once had has now gone to the wayside in order to retain students to meet the growing financial costs.   The expectations of faculty have changed as class sizes and workloads increased and academic accountability has decreased.  Grade inflation is at an all-time high and student academic accountability is plummeting.  As such, many higher education institutions are not adequately preparing students with the necessary skills and abilities to be an effective member of the workplace.  We are preparing students to participate in workplace aggression rather than to be exceptional critical thinkers and good communicators. 

Higher education institutions are not adaptable to the needs of the changing workplace and as such, much of the information provided students is outdated.  I am not negating the importance of history and understand that knowledge of the past is important.  I am suggesting that curriculum is not updated or modified as often as it should, particularly in professional fields.  This is because curriculum changes take a significant amount of time, faculty are not trained how to do curriculum development, and because of academic freedom, many faculty balk at any suggestions of curriculum modifications in their classes.  The result leads to students who are not prepared to deal with the current knowledge and skills that their professional lives demand that they know. 

Students who graduate without proper preparation for the workplace often revert to workplace aggression in attempt to cover up their own lack of skills.  Higher education did not hold them accountable for even basic work skills that are necessary to be successful, such as attendance, meeting deadlines, critical thinking, listening to other people's opinions, and writing adequately.  These basic professional abilities become problematic for the worker who then lashes out at others because they are not equipped. 

Higher education reinforces poor workplace behavior by adhering to the students who demand or threaten faculty who did not give them an A due to low academic performance.  Faculty are not supported when they attempt to hold students accountable but are often encouraged to change the student grade, pass the student, or make an accommodation for whatever the student is demanding.  This increases student retention.  This has becomes the standard of behavior for many students in higher education and unfortunately, this becomes the conduct that is replicated in workplace and may turn into workplace aggression. 

Higher education faculty should be role models for students.  However, academics frequently engage in workplace aggression themselves.  Academic aggressors are frequently rewarded in universities and colleges and end up in positions of power.  As such, bad professional behavior is reinforced for students and students develop an understanding that treating others poorly in the workplace gets good results. 

Higher education is an institution that needs reform.  However, we need to do a thorough examination of what kind of education and professional skills future students will need to meet the demands of the changing workplace.  Once we do this, we can begin to make the necessary improvements that will help everyone become a better and more effective professional.  Hopefully, eliminating all workplace aggression.

If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent workplace aggression, please contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com or at (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at jankircher.com. Help is out there.

Every organization, no matter how big or small, has its own culture.  The organizational culture is important for workers, leaders, and customers because it directly affects how we treat one another.  Organizational culture is the shared beliefs, norms, and values that shape workplace behaviors.  Organizational culture is essentially the personality and/or disposition of an organization.  The organizational culture is complex and multifaceted, but both directly and indirectly, influences workplace aggression. 

There are several factors that can be addressed to ensure that the organizational culture is positive and supportive rather than one that encourages workplace aggression.  One of these is maintaining a solid infrastructure  which includes the physical and organizational structures necessary to run an organization.  These are the structures that we rely on every day to do our jobs well.  A problematic infrastructure impacts everyone from the boss to workers.  It can cause immense frustration where workers strike out at one another.  Organizations should ensure that the infrastructure works as flawlessly as possible.  This does not mean that there cannot be issues within the infrastructure, but it does mean for the most part the infrastructure works as it is suppose to work.  A reliable infrastructure helps create an organizational culture that is dependable and consistent which are behaviors we want replicated by workers. 

Organizations also need to listen to workers especially when there are identified problems that are impacting one’s ability to their job effectively.  Organizations should then solve these problems in a timely fashion if at all possible. 

For example, I had a conversation with a a long term worker whose job is to enroll trainees in courses three or four times a year.  The worker identified several problems with these procedures including not having access to their trainees information during the enrollment period, not being able to actually enroll the trainees into the necessary courses, and not being trained themselves in the software updates from one year to another.  In the conversation, I asked the worker how long this problem had been going on?  I was shocked I was informed that these issues and more had been going on for several years and that there was no plan to make any significant changes to the process in the future.  This person indicated that tensions between workers during these enrollment periods rose significantly because of the increased frustration and dissatisfaction with the organizational culture which was unresponsive to their needs. 

Organizations that utilize effective problem solving and are solution focused generate a culture of responsiveness, awareness, and sensitivity.  All qualities that help to suppress workplace aggression.

Another key factor in maintaining a positive organizational culture is being supportive and appreciative to all workers and administration.  Workers who feel valued and are shown that their work is important to the organization are more likely to reciprocate these types of behaviors to their co-workers.  Recognition comes in all forms including both formal and informal processes.  Organizational cultures should ideally encourage every worker to provide positive feedback to one another in an effort to maintain a culture of understanding and admiration.  Organizational cultures that are devoid of recognition tend to create an environment of resentment and where workplace aggression can flourish.  No one wants this.

If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent workplace aggression, please contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com or (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at www.jankircher.com. Help is out there!