Good company culture can be hard to find, especially when one in four U.S. employees has experienced workplace bullying, according to a 2015 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute. However, what if there was a scientific solution to at least some of the workplace bullying that takes place, though?
This is a questions researchers at Scottsdale-based TTI Success Insights has been studying and helping companies evaluate through “personality inventories” behavioral assessments. These behavioral assessments equip businesses with an analysis of information, which allow offices to begin working toward more productive workplaces where bullying no longer inhibits exchanges between employees
Defining Workplace Bullying
What is workplace bullying?
Ashley Bowers, chief strategy officer for TTI Success Insights, says “workplace bullying is any type of intimidating or aggressive behavior displayed toward others in the workplace.”
This can take the form of boss to subordinate, peer to peer and even subordinate to the boss. Typically this type of bullying is addressed by the HR department through a formal structure, but getting employees to report is a challenge in itself for many businesses.
The problem isn’t reported or addressed as frequently because employees don’t want to officially report the bullying until the damaged has occurred or they are seeking employment somewhere else.
Workplace bullying can prove to be destructive to a business as it can destroy the company culture from the inside out. “It will close off collaboration, trust and communication. There is also a legal risk to the company if it is not addressed, “Bowers says.
Company background and Culture
The Workplace Bullying Institute states that company executives define culture as an organizations tone, operating style, and behavior standards and as the invisible hand that guides the organization. While the survey did find that governance and financial incentives reinforce culture, company culture is often more than just a mission statement or a code of conduct.
TTI Success Insights is a leading source for research-based, validated assessment and coaching tools which enables other organizations to effectively meet talent management needs using their own patented solutions. The business offers assessments based on the five primary sciences: behaviors, driving forces, competencies, acumen and emotional intelligence, where these tools are sold in an international level and results are used in various ways.
The unique factor of TTISI is that they use neurofeedback and other brain research to evaluate the instant emotional response to stimuli, which stem from questions of the different assessments. This allows TTISI to compare data of how individuals respond to an online questionnaire, which helps them continue their dedication to having reliable, valid assessment tools.
In order to continue the research, the company culture is rooted in people who must engage and lead towards a certain vision every day. “Our culture is created by our people, our leadership, our vision, and our mission and should be grounded in our core values. If you do these things well, goals will be achieved and the bottom-line will benefit,” Bowes says.
To create the assessments, people need to be the priority and employees need to have each other’s backs to improve both the company. “We are proud of our work and consistently make innovation a habit. We strive to make everything infused with humanity and eliminate fear by being transparent. We not only embrace the open door policy, but personify it,” Bowes says.
Four Co-Worker Types
Combating workplace bullying may be as simple as it sounds. Solving the problem boils down to living, hiring, leading and firing by the established core values. Additionally, the other concept comes down to understanding each employee’s behaviors, motivations and goals.
There are four main co-worker style types that must be understood in order to practice collaboration and active listening within an office space. Every single individual has a primary behavioral style, which range from, dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance.
Bowes states that each style is needed on a team to bring a different set of skills and strengths to the table. If every individual understands everyone’s primary style, then the group can play off those certain strengths. When a topic is challenged, instead of it being seen as a personal affront, it will be perceived as an opportunity to explore the issue.
Researchers as TTISI observe each primary style for a different set of skills. Below Bowes describes each style and what is looked for in each:
• Dominance – For the dominance scale, TTISI looks at how the team member attacks problems and challenges. A high-dominance factor will tend to be more aggressive in problem-solving whereas a low dominance factor is more reflective. Depending on the problem, the type of approach to problem-solving needed may differ.
• Influence – For the influence scale, TTSI observes the level of optimism versus realism. A higher influence factor will tend to be more optimistic whereas a lower influence will be more realistic. This is great to pair on a team when looking at a new project. Both will bring unique views to the possibilities.
• Steadiness – For the steadiness, TTISI looks at starters versus finishers. The high steadiness factor will see things through to the end and will be methodical in their approach to accomplishing the task. The lower steadiness tends to start things and will have multiple projects going on at the same time. Again, on a team, this is great, because you have the group that starts new projects and ideas and you have your group to follow up and complete the project.
• Compliance – For compliance, TTISI looks for risk tolerance. The high compliance factor is more risk-averse and will want to be sure each I is dotted and each t is crossed. Low compliance is more risk tolerant and tends to form their own interpretation of the rules.
Methods to Combat the Issue
When a business combines the ability to understand its workers and truly practice the company’s core values, then there should be no room for bullying to enter.
TTISI uses a process in order to create the assessments, which starts by understanding their employees through the use of assessments and a debriefing of the results. This process continues by understanding others through a triad debriefing and sharing of assessment results. The last step includes observing how the team collaborates through a team session and team report. The bottom line boils down to understanding oneself, appreciating others and learning to blend differences.
While research has shown that getting the culture right enhances value, there is still very little conversation about the topic. One reason may come from the results being difficult to obtain or even quantify.
“I believe most CEOs and CFOs can’t quantify it. So often, we’re dubbed as soft just because we put culture as a top priority. This theory couldn’t be further from the truth. Building, maintaining and protecting a great culture is the hardest work we do, but it’s the work that defines the sustainable success from the spikes of success,” Bowes says.