Persistent workplace aggression is a multifaceted issue that affects the overall organization and every employee. But, who is responsible for it? 

Many believe that targets have personalities that make them predisposed to being bullied or that they get abused because of the quality of their work. These workers are susceptible to being victimized in the workplace. As such, they are supposedly responsible for the persistent workplace aggression.

A participant in one of my workshops stated that as a supervisor she identified these types of workers. She was referring to those workers who she deemed as vulnerable to becoming a target of persistent workplace aggression. She told her workers that they were likely to be bullied and coached them on how they could avoid this. 

This is a victim blaming mentality and conveys that targets are responsible for the workplace aggression. If they would just change their behavior or personality, they would no longer be targeted. This is not true at all. There is no victim type or any way to predict that a worker will become a target of persistent workplace aggression. Anyone can be a victim and as such, targets are not responsible for being abused at work. 

Well, what about aggressors? Are they responsible? They are certainly accountable and answerable for their actions of abuse. They make conscious choices to actively go after targets. But, if the environment was not vulnerable to bullying, would aggressors be allowed to flourish? The answer is most likely not. 

It is really the organizations who are responsible for workplace aggression. They create the conditions that allow aggressors to get rewards instead of consequences for poor behavior. Organizations often ignore reports of bullying or mishandle them.  This only intensifies the bullying and encourages the aggressor to continue.  Organizations intentionally or unintentionally sustain bullying in the workplace.  

Organizations frequently do not receive proper training on this issue nor do they have policies or procedures to prevent or address workplace aggression. Organizations treat persistent workplace aggression like other conflict which is a highly ineffective approach. These tactics do not mandate intense interventions. In fact, they often end up re-victimizing the target and rewarding the workplace aggressor. Thus, creating an environment that promotes workplace bullying. 

Organizations are responsible for persistent workplace aggression including creating, sustaining, stopping, and preventing it. It is such a complicated problem and encompasses every aspect of the workplace that it takes organizational involvement to successfully manage and prevent it. 

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




01/26/2017 2:09am

I think that both employee and employer is responsible for that. We have to voice out our own opinions whenever we are abused or overworked. We cannot have satisfying job if we remain passive. Nonetheless, it's also an employer's job to make sure that their employees are treated with the utmost respect. Hopefully, this opens up the eye of the people within a workplace.


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