I have worked in several places where there was a culture of persistent workplace aggression.  It seems I went from one bad work environment right into another.  Looking back, the signs were there, but I was so desperate to get out of the abusive work environment I was in that I failed to see them.  It is so important for a target who is opting to leave their job to be hyper vigilant about the warning signals that potential workplaces may be giving. 

  • One of the things to remember is that certain types of organizations are more susceptible to persistent workplace aggression.
For example, higher education tends to have more workplace aggression because of the overall organizational structure which encourages rigid competition and often does not have strong supervision.  As such, targets need to be mindful of the setting as they look for a new job.

Another area to be attentive to is the people at the organization. 

  • People are very telling and can be key indicators about the overall culture of the organization.

Be aware of how all the people in the organization are interacting.  Look at who is at the interview and who is not at the interview.  Do the interactions between other workers seem sincere or distant?  Are there interactions that are different based on power?  For example, is the administrative assistant treated the same or differently than others?  Are there workers who are talking poorly about others? 

  • In almost all of the places that I have applied to work that ended being problematic, during the interview, there was always a worker who was gossiping or talking poorly about others.

This may suggest a workplace where persistent aggression is likely to be happening or at the very least, one that is at-risk. 

Another indicator of problems in a workplace that becomes apparent during an interview is whether or not the organization is following the law and/or the organizational policies during an interview.  For example, are they asking you questions about your personal life?  Are they talking to you about the other people who have been interviewed?  Are you hearing things such as, “Well, the policy says that we should do A, but let’s do B instead.”  This identifies a culture that is willing to break policy which can be problematic.   

  • It is important for a target of persistent workplace aggression to take a job where policy and procedure are taken seriously and most importantly, are followed.  It is policy and procedure, when used appropriately, that prevent and protect workers from persistent workplace aggression.

For more information, please contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com



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