Management, Inappropriate Management or Psychological Harassment: Where do we draw the line? Professor Angelo Soares Department of Organization and Human Resources UQÀM
Decent Society "A decent society is one whose institutions do not humiliate people" Avishai Margalit
Decent Work Decent work is work where there is an effort to prevent situations where workers feel humiliated. Work is decent when management and organizations ensure that their workers have no reason to feel humiliated.
Humiliation *** Avishai Margalit
Humiliation Humiliation is often a factor in psychological harassment in the workplace.
Psychological Harassment Definitions
Carroll Brodsky (1976) "Harassment is behavior that involves repeated and persistent attempts by one person to torment, wear down, frustrate, or get a reaction from another. It is behavior that persistently provokes, pressures, frightens, intimidates, or otherwise discomforts another person."
Bill 143 – Quebec For the purposes of this Act, "psychological harassment" means any vexatious behaviour in the form of repeated and hostile or unwanted conduct, verbal comments, actions or gestures, that affects an employee’s dignity or psychological or physical integrity and that results in a harmful work environment for the employee.
Bill 143 – Quebec (cont’d) A single serious incidence of such behaviour that has a lasting harmful effect on an employee may also constitute psychological harassment.
Bill 143 – Quebec (cont’d) All employees have the right to a work environment free from psychological harassment. Employers must take all reasonable action to prevent psychological harassment and, whenever they become aware of such behaviour, to put a stop to it.
Recourse Against Psychological Harassment An employee who believes he has been the victim of psychological harassment may file a complaint in writing with the Commission des normes du travail. If the Commission des relations du travail considers that the employee has been the victim of psychological harassment and that the employer has failed to fulfil its obligations, it may render any decision it believes fair and reasonable, taking into account all the circumstances of the matter, including:
Recourse Against Psychological Harassment (1) ordering the employer to reinstate the employee; (2) ordering the employer to pay the employee an indemnity up to a maximum equivalent to wages lost; (3) ordering the employer to take reasonable action to put a stop to the harassment; (4) ordering the employer to pay punitive and moral damages to the employee;
Recourse Against Psychological Harassment (5) ordering the employer to pay the employee an indemnity for loss of employment; (6) ordering the employer to pay for the psychological support needed by the employee for a reasonable period of time determined by the Commission; (7) ordering the modification of the disciplinary record of the employee.
February 2005 – Commission des normes du travail (CNT) 1,580 complaints - 1,030 files being processed (65%) - 550 files closed (35%) 12 unfounded complaints (2%) 110 agreements (20%) 2 investigation reports sent to the Commission des relations du travail
Four Dimensions Always Present The persistent nature of the action; The repetitive nature of the action; The effects are always negative, devastating and destructive for the targeted persons; The definition emphasizes the impact on the target person and not the intentions of the person who harasses.
Myth 1 The definition of psychological harassment is not clear.
Bullying = Mobbing *** (Stale Einarsen, Helge Hoel, Dieter Zapf and Cary L. Cooper, 2003) Moral harassment = psychological harassment
Myth 2(Link to Management) It's not psychological harassment, it's managers exercising their rights. It's not psychological harassment, it's leaders being tough.
Managing Rights The manager has the prerogative to decide how to manage. The manager's rights can be explicitly set out in the collective agreement.
Managing Rights Economic aspects: financing, investment, prices, nature of products, etc. Production: organizing production, determining manufacturing processes, making decisions pertaining to organizational change, sub-contracting, etc. Human resources management: staffing, staff assignments, discipline, promotions, demotions, dismissals, etc. Source: Dion, Gérard
Human Resources Management Knowledge of the business: finance, marketing, strategy, technology, production, etc. Knowledge of human resources practices: staffing, communication, performance appraisal, rewards, organizational development, etc. Knowledge of change management: identifying change-related problems, crafting a leadership style, building trust among the various organizational stakeholders, etc. Source: Dave Ulrich
Human Resources Management (HRM) and Harassment In situations of psychological harassment, the problem most often relates to: - HRM practices - change management Thus, the psychological harassment is caused by improper human resources management. It must be noted that in such cases, no judgment is made as to whether there was an intention to harass someone.
HRM Practices Communication (feedback) Performance appraisal (feedback) Discipline Leadership Conflict management
HRM Practices(Communication – feedback) My representative told him: "We are ready to go to your office." His office is just on the other side. Then, he turned around and said: "No." He said: "I'm going to do this in front of everyone," and then he began yelling all sorts of things in a nasty tone. Three times the union representative told him: "Let's go into your office, it's not appropriate to do this in front of everyone." I just stood there. Another woman, who has worked in the office for years, got up and said: "Mr. X, this is not the place for such behaviour, have some dignity." He paid her no attention. Then, the representative told me: "Let's go back upstairs." We went upstairs but I was shocked, and humiliated too. (Ms. A).
HRM Practices(Communication – feedback) Establish a climate of trust Give feedback when it is most appropriate for the recipient, and do so one on one Offer praise along with criticism Show consideration and respect Refrain from passing judgment - do not judge - do not ascribe intention - be specific and descriptive Be clear and specifi Be empathetic
HRM Practices(Communication – feedback) "When + I + Why Whe n + the specific behaviour I + the feelings experienced, by the person providing the feedback, at the time of the behaviour Why + the consequences of the behaviour "When you arrived late this morning, I was upset because I was counting on your expertise to clarify the budget issue, which was the most important item on the agenda."
HRM Practices(Communication – feedback) "At the end of a week, he came directly to the department. It took a week and he came to tell me I was incompetent. I said, listen, could we meet to discuss what's wrong? And he said 'no, I don't need you to come to my office, I can say in front of everyone that you aren't doing a good job.' He was cursing too. He yelled at me in front of all my co‑workers." (Ms. B)
HRM Practices(Discipline) Verbal reprimand Written disciplinary notice Short-term suspension without pay Long-term suspension without pay Dismissal
HRM Practices(Discipline) Disciplinary action is taken when an employee knowingly violates the rules. Prepare a file.
Discipline Louis, 44 years of age, has worked for the company for 23 years and is responsible for maintaining the production equipment. He has been the victim of psychological harassment. He has been falsely accused of making mistakes. He has been denied promotions for no justifiable reason. His salary has been decreased. His employer is putting together a file to dismiss him. It is really about his seniority, because he is starting to cost the company a lot of money ($18.31 an hour).
Discipline Laura, 45 years of age, has been a waitress in a restaurant for six years. "It has been going on for six months and I've already lost 5 kg." She is the target of verbal harassment and veiled threats. She can't quit and the employer can't dismiss her because he has no grounds, so he is doing all he can to make her leave.
Discipline The psychological harassment endured by an employee and the employer's expectations concerning that employee's performance are two separate elements and they should not be confused, especially when dismissal is involved.
Discipline The complainant challenged his dismissal, which occurred one year after he was hired as a tax recovery officer with the Department of Revenue. He alleged that he had been dismissed solely because his immediate supervisor, the section chief, did not like him. He also alleged that he had been the target of psychological harassment since the first day of his employment. The arbitrator found that his poor performance had led to his dismissal, although he acknowledged that the employee's supervisor did carry out psychological harassment. Therefore, the arbitrator allowed the employee's grievance in part: - he ordered the employer to pay the employee an indemnity for the harassment he endured - he rejected the employee's request for reinstatement
HRM Practices(Leadership) Leadership: a type of interpersonal influence through which one individual leads another individual or group to properly carry out a task. A number of theories: - Leadership based on consideration for others - Leadership based on task structuring - Situational leadership
HRM Practices(Leadership) However, leadership can be poor or non-existent - Laissez-faire: Leader shirks responsibilities and avoids making decisions. Group members are left to their own devices. Results are all negative. - Results: Poor performance, wasted time, inefficiency, dissatisfaction, group ineffectiveness, aggressive behaviour, divisions within the group.
HRM Practices(Leadership) Incompetent leadership: Leader lacks the will and/or ability to maintain effective action. With respect to at least one important leadership challenge, does not manage to produce positive change. Rigid leadership: Leader is rigid and inflexible. Although may be competent, is incapable of or unwilling to adapt to new ideas, new information or changing times.
HRM Practices(Leadership) Overbearing leadership: Leader lacks self control and is encouraged and backed up by supporters who refuse or are unable to intervene effectively. Insensitive leadership: Leader is insensitive and disagreeable. Needs, complaints and wishes of most members of the group or organization, particularly subordinates, are ignored or overlooked.
HRM Practices(Leadership) Corrupt leadership: Leader lies, cheats or steals. To an abnormal extent, puts own interests ahead of the public interest. Narrow-minded leadership: Leader minimizes or does not take into account health and well-being of “others,” i.e. those outside the group or organization for which the leader is directly responsible. Malicious leadership: Leader commits atrocities. Uses suffering as an instrument of power. Harm done to men, women and children is quite serious. Harm may be physical, psychological or both.
Laissez-faire Helen has been working as a server for a year and a half. She is being harassed by a co‑worker because she was given the shift where servers make the best money. This co‑worker has struck her, issued death threats and subjected her to verbal abuse. The labour standards board told her to call the police but she is reluctant to react, since she doesn’t want to lose her job. She has talked to the owner about it, but the owner doesn’t want to get involved in conflicts between her employees.
HRM Practices(Conflict Management) Conflict: A process that begins when one individual sees that another individual has had an adverse effect on or is about to have an adverse effect on something the first individual considers important.
HRM Practices(Conflict Management) The goal is conflict resolution—eliminating the underlying causes of the conflict Unresolved conflicts pave the way for other conflicts
Types of Conflicts Substantive conflict: Related to differences in views and opinions - task-based - concerns goals to be pursued or means of achieving them - usually functional conflict Emotional conflict: Related more to a person than to a problem. Manifests through feelings of anger, mistrust, animosity, fear and bitterness - dysfunctional conflict
Conflict Management Indirect management: Does not attack problems face on or try to resolve them by bringing together the people involved Direct management: Tries to resolve the conflict. It takes time and energy to find a solution
Indirect Conflict Management Decrease in interdependence: - involves eliminating or restricting contact between the parties in conflict Appeal to shared objectives: - refocuses the parties’ attention on the objectives to be achieved
Indirect Conflict Management Recourse to higher authorities Problems are sent up the line for superiors to solve. ATTENTION! Managers may be inclined to reduce conflicts to personalities. - Too much stress - Incompetence in managing conflicts - Fundamental bias in assigning responsibility
Escalation of Conflict Level 3 9 - Total destruction and suicide 8 - Fragmentation of the enemy 7 - Campaigns of destruction Level 2 6 – Threat strategies 5 - Loss of face, moral excesses 4 - Reputations, images and coalitions
Escalation of Conflict Level 2 3 – Documents, not discussions 2 - Polarization: debates and polemics 1 - Attempts at cooperation, tensions and crystallization