“Is It Bullying? Awareness and Strategies” Overall Impact

Since 2016, over 900 supervisors have been trained and it’s having an overwhelmingly positive effect.  

     This year, employees at UC Davis can choose to attend a session on Nov. 14, or Dec 6 on the Davis Campus, with more dates opening each quarter. Sign-up information can be found on the HR site. This training was envisioned following the 2013 UC-wide Climate Survey and every year since the start of the program in 2016, the UC Davis Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion have put on a voluntary training with the focus of building awareness and strategies on how to deal with bullying and abrasive behaviors in the workplace. And in July 2018, Chancellor May announced that all staff managers and supervisors on the main and health sciences campuses were strongly encouraged to complete an in-person workshop.  Different from other UC campuses Davis’ training takes place in person to facilitate effective communication. 

“Communication is so important. Everyone has a different idea of what bullying is so it is essential to create common language,” said Eric Sanchez, Diversity and Inclusion Educator and Specialist for the UC Davis Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  

     While bullying has a policy definition at UC Davis, which states that bullying is offensive or malicious behavior through persistent actions typically meant to undermine, intimidate or demean the recipient , the trouble is in how to respond when the abrasive behavior does not rise to the policy definition of bullying. While we may not ever deal with bullying at work, it’s likely you’ll experience some kind of abrasive behavior, which this training focuses on along with understanding bullying behaviors. The training further examines the idea of intent vs impact in hopes of effectively responding and preventing these abrasive behaviors. 

      A typical training would consist of supervisors running through workplace scenarios, that one might encounter in a workplace environment. An example used at the training dealing with abrasive behaviors looks like this: 

     You’re in a staff meeting. Lately, you’ve noticed that one of your colleagues, Blake tends to dominate the conversation, even interrupting others who are trying to make a point. It's getting to be disruptive and not a good use of staff time. Folks are feeling that the meetings are ineffective and that they don’t have a voice. 

     Sanchez, who co-teaches the course with Katherine Parpana and Mikael Villalobos, comments that a scenario like this one is used to demonstrate the negative impact that an employee would feel in this situation, that wouldn’t necessarily be defined as bullying.  It requires further exploration of the situation that allows participants to ask questions that may inform how they might respond should they find themselves in a similar situation.

     The course instructors are focused on creating change at the supervisor level because supervisors have opportunities daily to improve the employee experience. Those leaders are provided tools that can help create a safe and positive environment for all. 

“The power of attending the anti-bullying training is that one of the best responses for bullying and abrasive behavior in the workplace, is opening up the lines of communication in the work place between employees and supervisors, this training is an opportunity for folks to start opening that communication for themselves but also to their team and peers.”