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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

4 steps to stop online data being used against you: Online Workplace safety

 Employees report their online information was being used against them: International survey

Tom emailed me recently to relay a workplace experience that recently took place with a friend of his, who'd broken up with a girlfriend also employed at the same organisation. 

A week after the breakup, Tom's friend walked into work on Monday morning and was immediately crowded by a bunch of co-workers who'd been anonymously emailed a list of his social media accounts and passwords, plus one or two embarrassing photos that had been taken outside work hours. Apparently the ex, who was in HR and had access to the organisation's recruitment files, was taking revenge.   

References: AVG Technologies 2013: International survey of 4,000 employees from 10 countries
                     Histogram: Australian workplace survey, 2016 Social Media White Paper 


4 easy steps to protect your privacy

1. Location services

Be careful of providing a full history of where you've been, and done. 

You are now more prone to a co-worker mentioning that you have checked into a bar or restaurant too many times that week or maybe you tag a picture of your and your partner out at a movie with a tagline "Yay! Babysitter for the night!" and now EVERYONE online knows that you're kids are at home without you, or the house is empty. 

Tagging yourself away from your house makes you and your family more of a target for vandalism, robbery or worse.

2. Remove photo "tagging" 

Take away the posting power of potentially disgruntled co-workers. Managing who can add you to a post is valuable armour against online attackers!

If a disgruntled co-worker or client is posting derogatory comments or images and tagging you online, you have the power to catch (or at least manage) manage of these posts before they hit your news feed.

3. Set up a Google alert for your name

It's generally a good idea to monitor the internet to check if someone might be saying about you. It’s just a matter of telling Google what to look for (in this case, your name), as well as what kinds of web pages to search, how often to search and what email address the search engine should use to forward the alert notifications. You can set up a Google alert here.

4. Online privacy

Be aware of whom you are sharing your pictures, images and posts.

....workplace predators can cyber-stalk your posts to create ammunition against your and find out private information about your family and firends

Also, when social media platforms update, so do many of their privacy settings - check them every so often! 

4a. Protect your social media privacy on Facebook

Facebook has different privacy settings for many aspects of a user's social profile. Privacy settings for photos, status updates, friends' lists, andl likes must all be adjusted individually.
According to the University of Texas,  four general audience options are:
  • Public. This means anyone on or off Facebook.
  • Friends. Only your friends on Facebook can see this material.
  • Custom. This allows you to share or exclude content from select people and lists.
  • "Only me." No one but you can see these posts.
To keep your information as secure as possible from strangers, avoid any "public" settings.
Also, check your audience, manage your privacy settings, guard your personal information, manage your apps, and your timeline.
Note: nothing on the Internet is truly private.

4b. Protect your LinkedIn data

LinkedIn provides a "Privacy and Settings" option from the drop down menu, and choose to turn your activity broadcasts on or off. "On" alerts any connects to profile changes.
You may want to turn this option off if you're looking for a job and don't want your present employer to see that you're updating your profile.
Under the default settings, you can also control what people will see when they view your profile - casual viewers can be provided with only limited information.
You can also choose to share your connections with others, or not. 
And you can also decide who can view your  profile picture. 
Note:  nothing on the Internet is truly private

4c. Protect your Instagram privacy settings

Instagram allows you to modify your privacy settings to ensure only approved followers can see your pictures. To keep your photos private, tap "Edit Your Profile" next to your profile picture and turn on the "Posts are Private" setting. Be sure to save your changes.
Prior to posting a photo, select the "Add to Your Photo Map."  and switch to "Off" as it's not  recommends you share this information. 
To remove geolocation data from previously posted photos, select the profile button on your bottom navigation menu and select the Photo Map tab on your profile page, and click on "Edit." Tap the grid option at the bottom of the screen and select which photos you want to delete from the map.
Note: nothing on the Internet is truly private

4d. Protect your Twitter data

With a private Twitter account:
  • Only Twitter users approved by you can subscribe and see your tweets.
  • Any tweets previously made public will be hidden, and can only be viewed or search by approved followers.
  • Your tweets will also no longer appear in Google searches or be "retweetable."
  • Any @replies you send will not be seen, unless you send them to your approved followers.
To make your Twitter account private, click the wheel icon in the top right of your Twitter homepage and select "Settings" from the drop-down menu, then select "Security and Privacy" from the side-bar menu.
Under "Privacy," click the box  "Protect my tweets."

4e. Protect your social media privacy on Pinterest

Under "Settings" Pinterest allows users to switch privacy from "No" to "Yes" and hit save.
For extra privacy, change your name, or use secret boards that are visible only to you and  invited users. 
Also, under the "Profile"option  in "Settings" the Center also recommends never listing your real location.
Note: nothing on the Internet is truly private.

Courtesy of the University of Texas


Flis has a BA SSc and PhD in organisational social psychology and works with individuals and organisations as a consultant, speaker and trainer. She uses her social science expertise to enhance interactions between organisations and the people who lead and work in them by fostering new insights for diagnosing organisational problems, and build new capabilities and culture.

 You can contact Dr Flis at DrFlisLawrence@gmail.com or LinkedIn or follow her blog, Twitter or Facebook

Sunday, 22 May 2016

International research: Abusive cyber communications escalate face-to-face exchanges

International research has found that disrespectful, aggressive and/or abusive online communications result in heated face-to-face exchanges.

Image result for image cyber

Image courtesy of www.computerworld.com

Did you know international research has found that negative online behaviours at work, such as cyber incivility and disrespect, cyber aggression, cyberbullying, cyber stalking, eHarassment and cyber abuse can result in escalated face-to-face interactions, including anger, bullying, harassment abuse and physical intimidation?



When I conducted over twenty confidential interviews with Commonwealth and ACT government public servants, I quickly found that one of the major concerns raised by the interviewees was how quickly disrespectful online communications would escalate into cyber-incivility, aggression and abuse. 

What was also concerning was that negative online behaviour and cyber communications had a huge capacity to invade and infect face-to-face interactions and increase the likelihood of more heated face-to-face workplace exchanges.

Have you observed, or suffered this sort of negative online behaviour at work? 

Or perhaps you've seen or experienced heated face-to-face exchanges that have resulted in disrespectful or abusive online communications at work? 

If you have, or if you have any questions about methods on how to effectively deal with these workplace behaviours, contact me to share your story and for techniques in how to interrupt these negative online and offline workplace behaviours.

Flis has a BA SSc and a PhD in organisational social psychology and works with individuals and organisations as a consultant, speaker and trainer. She uses her social science expertise to enhance interactions between organisations and the people who lead and work in them by fostering new insights for diagnosing organisational problems, and build new capabilities and culture.

 You can contact Dr Flis at DrFlisLawrence@gmail.com or LinkedIn or follow her blog, Twitter or Facebook

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Workplace safety: Online & offline workplace bullying & harassment can affect anyone

Can online & offline negative workplace behaviours affect anyone, irrespective of position or role? 

 
Courtesy of  www.first2aid.com

I was recently chatting to two retired heads of agency, both of whom had been in public service for many decades and, during that time, had conducted themselves ethically and unpretentiously. I respected both because of their innate professionalism, ethos of non-entitlement, and commitment to public service. 

Both were close in age, and had observed immense changes in how public service was conducted. While I hadn’t thought to interview either for my doctorate research (I interviewed and gathered data from various agency heads during my research phases), I now found the opportunity to ask for their views about negative online communications in the workforce, particularly government organisations.

To my amazement, both shared stories of being cyberbullied and cyber stalked. 

One ex-CEO shared his story of being cyberbullied and cyber harassed through an anonymous and very public website, that, at one point, had been available through a Google search. The other ex-CEO share her story of experiencing a bullying and harassment email campaign, which had been sent to her respective bosses on multiple occasions over many years.

Both shared how they had been deeply concerned about the impact of this online material on their careers and the reputation of the agencies that they represented. I asked them how they coped at the time, and both indicated that they thought it had been incumbent upon them, in their position as agency heads, to demonstrate resilience and to just “get on with their job.” However saying that, the negative online cyber communications took its toll.

Do you have a story to share? If so, contact me.


How to recognise negative online workplace communications, and how heated online communications escalate into face-to-face confrontations.




Best practice methods on interrupting or defusing negative online workplace behaviours.

Research has found that, without intervention, negative workplace communications (either online or offline) will escalate.

Interrupting disrespectful, abusive, bullying and harassing online conduct needs strong leadership and reliable processes that work (Caponecchia & Wyatt, 2011). Saying that, successfully defusing and mitigating these negative behaviours can only be realised in an organisation that actively supports and endorses a respectful and civil culture and climate that develops collaborative interpersonal workplace relationships built on trust (Mattice, 2015).

First, consult your ICT and HR areas, your boss (or their supervisor), as you organisation may have specific intervention strategies you can source:
ü  Unfriend or block the person
ü  Change online permissions so you can view and/or manage defamatory statements or photos before they’re broadcast
ü  Update online privacy settings to manage who has read access to your posts 
ü  Document and report the person (with evidence) to your manager or supervisor, workplace ICT area, or external website or online service,
ü  If you know the person is not malicious and you have a good work relationship, politely and courteously ask them to stop,
ü  Report to your State/Territory Work Health Safety authority, and/or Australian Human Rights Commission, and/or Commonwealth Fair Work Ombudsman, and/or or Fair Work Commission,
ü  Seek legal advice, and/or
ü  If you feel threatened, report the problem to law enforcement (your local police officer).
  
Second, if you find yourself dealing with an anonymous perpetrator(s) you may choose to:

ü  Again, manage your account(s) privacy settings and permissions,
ü  Document and report the problem (with evidence) with your ICT, HR areas and boss (or their supervisor), and seek support from your friends and colleagues,
ü  Change your username, accounts or delete your profile through your workplace ICT area,
ü  Withdraw from the online collaboration forum,
ü  Stop attending the offline events or places,
ü  Report to your State/Territory Work Health Safety authority, and/or Australian Human Rights Commission, and/or Commonwealth Fair Work Ombudsman, and/or or Fair Work Commission,
ü  Seek legal advice and/or
ü  If you feel threatened, report the problem to law enforcement (your local police officer).
Dr Flis has a BA SSc and a PhD in organisational social psychology and works with individuals and organisations as a consultant, speaker and trainer. She uses her social science expertise to enhance interactions between organisations and the people who lead and work in them by fostering new insights for diagnosing organisational problems, and build new capabilities and culture. You can contact Dr Flis at LinkedIn  or follow Flis on her blog, Twitter or Facebook

Thursday, 12 May 2016

5 steps to take back control during workplace confrontations

Five steps to take back control during workplace confrontations

Have you, or do you have friends or family, who have worked in organisations where the interpersonal communications were regularly punctuated by uncivil, disrespectful, passive aggressive or even bullying interactions that made you feel uncomfortable, disenfranchised and/or powerless?


Image courtesy of www.orange.k12.nj.us


On one occasion I remember my boss walked into my office unannounced and directed me to amend the HRIS information for a junior staff member who reported to a colleague in my boss' branch. After 10 minutes, during which I tried to find out the real reason(s) behind this request, I indicated my general discomfort about amending the HRIS details for a team member who didn't work in my section. My boss then stormed out of my office, yelling, “Christ, you stupid cow!” and slammed my office door. 

So what is occupational violence?
One legal definition is the “repeated examples of organisational violence and aggression.” This includes online and offline workplace bullying. Occupational violence has also been defined as “organisational deviance” or “voluntary behaviour that violates significant organisational norms and in so doing threatens the well-being of an organisation, its members, or both.” Organisation deviance and occupational violence is often recognised as a "violence continuum." 

The violence continuum and workplace safety
In my thesis, I reported that the first signs of workplace "violence continuum" can be observed as discourteous, disrespectful behaviours such as making facing behind your back or eye rolling, which without intervention intensify into interpersonal intimidation and threatening behaviour, such as throwing staplers or pens. 


If not stopped, this behaviour will then escalate into online/offline harassment, abuse, bullying and mobbing including spreading online and offline rumours and images. Without intervention, this behaviour then manifests into verbal and/or cyber assault and overt physical aggression. 

This type of behaviour, if not interrupted, has a huge potential to make people feel unsafe at work. 


Interrupting workplace violence relies on robust reporting and conflict resolution processes, that are only successful when employees feel confident in their organisation’s management authenticity and support in enforcing the resolution process.

5 steps to taking back control during a workplace confrontation 

    
1. Is this behaviour occupational violence? How to recognise that you are experiencing occupational violence.

   Is the perpetrator confused, threatening, yelling (or writing), profanities, talking about (or writing about) hurting you or something or someone, standing over you, finger pointing and writing abusive emails or posts, making fists? Take a moment to recognise how you are feeling. Ask yourself, “Do I feel unsafe right now?” If so, then you are likely experiencing online and/or offline workplace violence, which range from deliberate disrespect to aggression, bullying or abuse.

     2. Stay calm. If you show any distress the perpetrator is more likely to see that they are affecting you and act more aggressively.

   Control your response! For example, take three deep "ocean" breaths (image you're on a beach overlooking the sea and taking your first real breaths of sea breeze). Or, for a couple of seconds, vividly recall a happier event such as a holiday - this “mental break” helps move your body out of the fight/flight response and allows you to control your response (rather than a reaction) and stay calm. You can practice this technique with anyone at any time.


      3. Listen and Clarify.

   Defuse the behaviour by remaining calm and professional, listening and ask clarifying, open-ended questions. This strategy helps the person use their rational, rather than their emotional, side of their brain. For example:
       a). “Peter, how can I help you fix xx and xx?”
       b).    “Mandy, would you mind repeating that [first, second, third sentence/part]      
               please?”
       c). “Just to be crystal clear, Sam, you said xx and xx needs to be changed – how 
             does that sound?”

 4. Time out.

   Further defuse the situation and take back control by asking if you can take notes to “make sure you remember all the details.” This is a very professional strategy that allows you to occasionally break eye contact and have an excuse to look away, and to think (it’s hard to think clearly in confrontation situations when being forced to maintain constant eye contact). You’re also developing your evidence! This simple technique takes the pressure off you without being submissive. For example, “Pia, do you mind if I take notes so I'm crystal clear?” Lean slightly forward and nod occasionally to indicate you’re listening.


5. Document and Report

   Empower yourself by documenting the incident’s details (use the Workplace Workbook below/at the end of this article), and calmly, professionally reporting the incident to HR and your boss (or their supervisor). You will be taken much more seriously if you remain calm during these discussions, and provide clear evidence in a written report. Also, state this incident has made you feel unsafe and request options to help you feel safe@work – feel free to develop your own options. For any online matters, report to your ICT team. If you feel threatened and concerned about your personal safety, report the online or offline matter to your local police.

Avoid wherever possible:
o   Power struggles.
o   Becoming “sucked into” the argument or taking the issue(s) personally.


Reporting procedure by Dr Flis Lawrence, Founder – Stop Workplace Cyberbullying


Dr Flis has a BA SSc and a PhD in organisational social psychology and works with individuals and organisations as a consultant, speaker and trainer. She uses her social science expertise to enhance interactions between organisations and the people who lead and work in them by fostering new insights for diagnosing organisational problems, and build new capabilities and culture. You can contact Dr Flis at LinkedIn  or follow Flis on her blog Twitter or Facebook

Monday, 2 May 2016

Why some workplaces don't work for you - Five steps to identifying the fit between organisational & personal values

Five steps to identifying the fit between the organisation's values and your personal workplace values 

Image courtesy of www.slideshare.net

Have you ever joined a new work team and for the first few minutes, hours, days, or weeks wondered if you've accidentally stepped into a new land with no reference points and are struggling to understand the group's social rituals, values, and even their language? 

Or you've started a new job in a large and well respected organisation, completed the mandatory five day induction course and after the first day in your new job gone home to your family and said, "I have no idea what people are talking about in meetings. It's all jargon and acronyms!"

Firstly, don't worry, you aren't alone! 

In transiting from a military environment to a civilian workplace I experienced culture shock for the second time in my life (the first time was when I entered the Navy at 19). I mean, people were turning up to work in jeans and t-shirts (shock, horror!), and the ICT guys wore crumpled clothes that looked like they'd just rolled out of bed (no offence guys, but have you heard of bed hair?).

This form of culture shock can be traumatic if you accidentally land in a workplace, like I did, that explicitly expressed the workplace values and behaviours of respect, collaboration and communication, while the lived experiences were very different. Actual workplace behaviours included outbursts of frustration and anger from my peers, disrespect and underhanded dealings by my supervisor with everyone, implicit aggression from co-workers, and a general fear of making mistakes, which froze everyone from making any real decisions or taking any creative risks. Or talking.

Bullying and harassment were normalised behaviours. In other words, the implicit values, behaviours and attitudes driving the organisation's culture were the antithesis of the explicit values and culture.


How can you avoid falling into this trap?


After this experience I asked myself, how do I avoid accidentally moving into an organisation that appears great on the outside, but is dysfunctional on the inside?  I've figured out a five strategies that, in combination and with a bit of analysis, will help to identify the real values operating in a workplace.


First Step



Created by Dr Lawrence, Stop Workplace Cyberbullying Pty Ltd

It's absolutely critical to figure out your own core workplace values. If you are crystal clear about your own core values, and workplace values, then it's easier to find a workplace that best suits you. This step is vital as you then generate a template of core personal values that you can use to analyse some other information described in the subsequent steps. Some of the questions you can ask yourself include:

I am at my best when [insert your example here]

I am at my worst when [insert your example here]

I am truly happy when 
[insert your example here]


I want to be a person who 
[insert your example here]


What I really love is 
[insert your example here]


What I really hate is 
[insert your example here]


So, if you find that you really love working with friendly, communicative people who enjoy asking lots of questions and are enthusiastic and creative, then your values most likely include respect, collaboration, openness, innovation and integrity. 

Create a spreadsheet and/or write your core workplace values on a piece of paper in the left column. You can use the table I've embedded and located at the end of this post.


Second Step


Google the organisation and read their annual report and other governance documents to find out the in-house and external activities management supports and encourages their staff to do. The employment agreement will also help you gain insight into the types of behaviours expected from staff. 

Write down the behaviours and activities in a spreadsheet (Feel free to use the spreadsheet located the end of this post). Any behaviours that match your values, list these under the column entitled "Matched behaviours identified through my online research." Any behaviours that don't match your values, list these under the column entitled "Mismatched behaviours identified through my online research."

Third Step.


Email and ring or talk to the recruitment officer and ask them questions. These can include: 

- What barriers do you experience as you try to accomplish your work?

- How do you work through these barriers? What processes do you use (e.g., committees, work groups, work shops)

- Are employees represented on Board meetings on employment matters? If so, how are these representatives chosen?

- What is your favourite quality that is present in your company?

- What are the goals of your organisation?

- What is the vision your organisation is seeking to achieve?


List these behaviours in your spreadsheet under one of the columns entitled "Matched" or "Mismatched" behaviours identified through my online research.

Fourth Step.

Then ask the recruitment officer for a short list of partners or sponsors, stakeholders or key clients and customers. 

Alternatively, you can identify these contacts through the organisation's website (via their annual report or other legislatively required documentation). 

Ring these contacts, explain that you're very interested in a career at XX and that you'd love to organise a short 5-10 minute telephone chat at their convenience to discuss their business experiences with XX. Once the 5-10 minute conversation has been organised and is on the way, ask one or more of these questions:


- Where does [the organisation] fit with your business/organisation?

- How does [the organisation] support or enable you? 

- How would you describe their behaviours and value?

- Does the organisation support your efforts to accomplish your work, or do they impede your progress?

- Is there a story or example you can recall that really describes how XX supports your business?

- Write down the behaviours and activities in a spreadsheet, in the second last column next to your values, and link the behaviours with your values. 

*If some behaviours do not link with your core values, place them on the far right corner column.


Step Five.



The interview is possibly the most important indicator of the values held dear by your new organisation as this is the point where everyone is (hopefully) on their best behaviour. 

What constitutes an organisation's "best behaviour" may look and feel a bit weird (at least, from your perspective). 

For example, in one experience, the normalised behaviour in one organisation involved being placed in a disabled car park by the convenor (I thought this was probably illegal(?). While waiting for my interview I was offered a chair in the foyer and asked to read a list of interview questions while people walked in and out chatting (this appeared a bit disrespectful to me). I found myself walking into a messy and tiny interview room and being offered a broken chair (I immediately felt like asking for a new chair but felt a bit awkward at this point). I was then told that one female panel was on "loan" from another organisation due to lack of females in the executive level in that organisation (I really started to feel a bit queasy at this point).

After the interview, write down the behaviours you observed and list these against your core values - do they match your values or are they a mis-match?

Generally speaking, at the conclusion of the interview a reasonable panel will ask if you have any questions. At this point you could ask one or two of the following: 

- What would you tell a friend about your organisation if he or she were about to start working here?

- What stories do current employees tell new employees about your organisation when they join the organisation?

- What is your favourite story, the story you share most frequently, about your organisation?Who is a hero around here? Why?

- What is your favourite quality that is present in your company?

- Who succeeds in your company?

- What kinds of people fail in your organisation?

- What is your favourite question to ask a candidate for a job in your company?

Your analysis


I've created a spreadsheet/table to illustrating the points above and to assist you in your analysis. 


                                          Created by Dr Lawrence, Stop Workplace Cyberbullying Pty Ltd

Note: this table includes a "total" line at the bottom.

I've added this total line as you may find it useful to compare the total of Matched values with Mis-matched values, and then do a bit of thinking. If nothing else, this analysis will help you with a conversation with your future boss and clarify you workplace needs (and wants).

While this process isn't perfect (there is no such thing as a perfect process) it will help you to, firstly, become conscious of your personal and workplace values, and secondly, to determine why your existing workplace is fantastic, or makes you uncomfortable and finally, a mechanism that assists in locating a workplace that better suits you.


Dr Lawrence, the founder of Stop Workplace Cyberbullying, has a BA SSc and PhD in organisational social psychology. She  works with individuals and organisations as a consultant, speaker and trainer. She uses her social science expertise to enhance interactions between organisations and the people who lead and work in them by fostering new insights for diagnosing organisational problems, and build new capabilities and culture. E: felicity.lawrence@connect.qut.edu.au or Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter