Dresden native Andrew Faas pens 'The Bully's Trap'

This article appeared in the Chatham Daily News February 19, 2015

Andrew Faas knows all about bullying in the workplace – because he used to be one.

Today, he's a leading advocate to combat the issue, which can debilitating psychological and physical impacts on employees.

The Dresden native, who is author of 'The Bully's Trap,' discussed the topic of bullying in the workplace on Thursday in Chatham during a Lunch & Learn session presented by the Foundation of Chatham-Kent Health Alliance.

Faas recalled that early in his career working for Loblaws that a senior executive came into his office to ask his advice about how to handle a young manager who bullied people into getting things done.

“I'd fire the SOB,” Faas recalls telling the executive.

He never suspected the response would be: “The problem, my son, is the young SOB I'm talking about is you.”

Faas said it become his most important lesson in leadership, which led to him becoming the youngest vice-president of Loblaws, where he worked for 23 years.

“I learned that motivating out of respect, rather than motivating out of fear, is far more effective.”

Faas was also the victim of bullying when he blew the whistle on a corrupt executive, which included such aggressive actions as having his e-mail and phone hacked and receiving an anonymous death threat.

He said this had a horrible psychological and physical impact on him.

Faas credits the intervention of others around him who recognized his deterioration and helped him to confront the situation.

“Most people, I have discovered are not as fortunate,” he said, adding this experience became the catalyst for writing 'The Bully's Trap.'

He has discovered everyone seems to have a story to tell of either them or someone close to them being targeted by a workplace bully.

While there has been much media coverage of bullying in schools, Faas said there has been scant attention give to the issue of bullying in the workplace.

He noted a major difference with workplace bullying is the bullies are often vested with power and control.

He believes workplace bullies are “masters of deflection, deception and manipulation,” and the reason they bully is because they can.

Geri Lyn Wilson of Blenheim was among those who attended the event and purchased Faas' book.

“I know it's an issue in many workplaces and it's important for people to know there is support out there,” she said.

Wilson added bullying could also be happening in your personal life as well.

When asked by The Chatham Daily News about the reaction of the corporate world to him shining this kind of light on such an issue, Faas said: “In most cases they say, 'It may go on elsewhere, but it doesn't go in my environment.'”

He added that usually the reason corporations give this response is they are not getting the information they need.

In many cases, corporations have the processes in place to gather information, such as reviews and employee surveys, “but there's such a disconnect from what they get from that and what the reality is.”

He added the reason is in most cases, people are afraid to even a fill a form expressing what really goes on.

Faas said he has worked with companies that get the message about dealing with bullying.

He is working on developing a psychologically safe workplaces program to raise awareness about the impact bullying has on the mental health of employees.

“Bullying is a systemic issue the requires a systemic resolution,” Faas said.