Periodically people ask me how they can reorient their careers to get involved in anti-bullying work. Obviously general qualifications and experience play a big role in answering that question, but an important early step is doing the homework. For those interested, a growing body of educational programs and materials awaits them.
At the advanced level is Workplace Bullying Institute University, a/k/a “WBI U,” an intensive, three-day, small-group training program led by Gary and Ruth Namie.
The Namies have been hosting WBI U sessions for several years, providing specialized training to individuals who want to learn more about how to prevent and respond to the destructive phenomenon of workplace bullying. They describe their program as a “unique, intensive experience that prepares professionals in mental health, law, management, human resources, coaching, unions, speaking & training with graduate-level instruction and materials.”
In July I’ll be heading out to Bellingham, Washington, where I’ll be joining Gary and Ruth Namie and several fellow learners for the next WBI U training session. I have a feeling I’ll be returning home with a brain stuffed full of ideas and information.
Building a personal knowledge base
As workplace bullying has entered the mainstream of American employment relations, I have become increasingly concerned over the factual assumptions and casual advice being shared in career guidance columns and news segments. Frankly, there’s a lot of bad — even dangerous — advice being tossed out by supposed experts.
Without question, there is room for legitimate differences of opinion concerning behaviors that are so varied and complex. But those opinions should be informed by the growing body of knowledge we have about workplace bullying and affected stakeholders.
That’s why I’m looking forward to participating in WBI U. I’ve been researching and writing about the legal implications of bullying at work for over a decade, and in the process I’ve learned a lot about these behaviors and employment relations in general. But I firmly believe that you can’t know too much.
WBI U involves a solid investment of time and money. Fortunately, there are other paths to obtaining advanced knowledge about workplace bullying, and many of the leading sources are within a modest price range. For a book list of suggested titles on workplace bullying and related topics, go here.
Among the possibilities, the Namies’ two books, The Bully at Work (rev. ed. 2009) (for targets of bullying) and The Bully-Free Workplace (2011) (for employers), are excellent (and affordable) starting places. If you absorb the lessons within, then you’ll be way ahead of the pack.
For those who want to dig deeper, I strongly recommend Stale Einarsen, Helge Hoel, Dieter Zapf & Cary L. Cooper, eds., Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace: Developments in Theory, Research, and Practice (2nd ed., 2011). Though pricey, it is an invaluable anthology of research and commentary by leading experts drawn from many nations.
Online, WBI’s own website provides a wealth of free material. The International Association on Workplace Bullying and Harassment is the main learned society for interested scholars and practitioners.