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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
NOVEMBER 2012
69
AFSA NEWS
Bullying deservedly receives
much national attention in
the media. It is a threat that
must be eliminated from
our schools. The damage it
causes afects not only the
targeted victims, but their
families as well, causing
scars that can last a lifetime.
Unfortunately, bullying
doesn’t end when we become
adults. Instead, bullies can be
found in social circles and in
the workplace. USAID is not
exempt from this scourge.
In fact, life in the Foreign
Service is filled with condi-
tions that can intensify the
problem. As the contact
point for Foreign Service
employees, we occasionally
get complaints of bullying by
supervisors in Washington,
D.C., but mainly from our
overseas missions. Supervi-
sors exert significant control,
power and influence over
FSOs, and that power can
afect an employee’s career
progression, and even family
harmony.
Bullying in the workplace
is defined as repeated,
unreasonable actions of
an individual or individu-
als, directed towards an
employee or employees,
which are intended to intimi-
date, degrade, humiliate,
undermine, or create a risk
to the health or safety of the
employee or employees.
Examples of bullying in
the workplace can include
unwarranted or invalid criti-
cism; blame without factual
justification; being treated
Bullying: Not Just for Kids
diferently than the rest
of your work group; being
sworn at; exclusion or social
isolation; being shouted at
or being humiliated in front
of others; excessive monitor-
ing or micro-managing; or
being given unrealistic work
deadlines.
In a 2006 study (Schat,
Frone and Kelloway) on the
prevalence of bullying in the
U.S. workplace, psycholo-
gists found that 41.4 percent
of respondents reported
experiencing psychological
aggression at work dur-
ing a one-year period. The
research also found that 13
percent, or nearly 15 million
workers, reported experienc-
ing psychological aggression
on a weekly basis.
While this type of aggres-
sion is not uncommon in the
U.S., it can be magnified at
post, where working condi-
tions can be much more
stressful. Several members
have complained to AFSA
about abusive supervisors
who are making their lives
miserable. There are reports
of yelling, intimidating behav-
ior, ostracism and outright
hostility. Some time ago,
USAID took action by devel-
oping a “diversity checklist,”
which was incorporated into
the agency’s annual perfor-
mance evaluation process.
The checklist allows sub-
ordinates to anonymously
report disrespectful behavior
to their supervisor’s super-
sor. As the report serves as
documentation of an unac-
ceptable situation, leadership
is compelled to deal with the
behavior, or ignore it at their
peril.
Several members
have complained to
AFSA about abusive
supervisors who are
making their lives
miserable.
AFSA is negotiating with
USAID’s Ofce of Human
Resources to incorporate
into the skills model matrix
for Senior Foreign Service
ofcers a phrase stating that
they will “actively promote
an anti-bullying environ-
ment and will not tolerate
abusive behavior in the work
environment.” But we believe
all supervisors should be
trained to recognize and
prevent bullying.
Bullying is disruptive
to our organization, not
only because it has been
proven that it produces poor
results and lower productiv-
ity, but also contributes to
low morale, projects a bad
image to our counterparts,
increases stress and illness,
but most of all, is a sign of
poor leadership skills.
What can you do if you are
experiencing bullying? React
as soon as it happens. Docu-
ment attacks by securing
witness statements, saving
egregious e-mails and sub-
mitting a diversity checklist
to management. Seek help
up the ladder. Finally, report
bad behavior to USAID’s
Ofce of Human Resources,
speak with the Agency’s
social worker and share your
situation with AFSA. Bullying
should not be tolerated in our
schools or our workplace.
USAID VP VOICE | BY FRANCISCO ZAMORA
Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA USAID VP.
Pledge to the AFSA Scholarship
Fund
During this year’s Combined Federal Campaign,
please consider designating CFC #11759 on your
pledge card. Your contribution will go to the AFSA
Scholarship Fund, listed as “Foreign Service Youth
Scholarships—AFSA.” AFSA bestows merit awards
and financial aid scholarships to 100 children of
Foreign Service employees, which will total over
$230,000 during the 2012-13 school year. Your
donation supports the Foreign Service community,
while helping to build our leaders of tomorrow.