An exploration of coaching interventions and techniques used to address workplace bullying in South Africa

Du Preez, Luzanne (2014-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Despite workplace bullying becoming more prevalent today, limited focus has been placed on this phenomenon within the organisational research context. It is important to note that this particular field of study still seems to be fairly new. Preventative measures for workplace bullying have focused on organisations taking responsibility through revisiting organisational leadership and culture, implementing policies and programmes, one of which includes coaching interventions. The present study set out to state that through effective and well-directed coaching interventions, awareness regarding workplace bullying can be created on both an individual and organisational level. The main objective of the study was to explore what coaching interventions and techniques can be used in coaching to address workplace bullying in South Africa. This study, positioned in the interpretivist paradigm, explored the personal experiences of 13 qualified and registered business coaches with COMENSA in South Africa, regarding their understanding, experience and knowledge of coaching related to workplace bullying from the sample group, through qualitative data. The sample group participated in individual semi-structured interviews relaying their experiences by answering specific questions, formulated as guidelines to the study. The questions were grouped into four categories, in order to analyse the qualitative data by using the content analysis method. The study found that coaches are increasingly faced with the responsibility to coach individuals related to workplace bullying, that it is a definite problem in South African organisations, but that organisations are currently not addressing it. The sample group in general had an average understanding of the concept of workplace bullying. However, their experience in workplace bullying contributed to insight on a number of factors, not obtained from literature. This also included the identification of several approaches, techniques and tools, which have been used with great effectiveness, whether coaching bullies or individuals being bullied. The sample group also emphasised a number of critical areas that coaches need to be aware of, including the importance of coaching supervision, proper contracting with clients and the effect that workplace bullying have on the coach himself, to mention just a few. The study focused on discussing the findings of this study by analysing and comparing the specific results, with previous literature, research and studies. The literature mentioned a number of theoretical underpinnings that can be used in workplace bullying coaching, but the study found more value in the processes followed by the coaches regarding effective coaching interventions, combined with approaches, tools and techniques, which are indicated specifically in the study. It was also found that an effective workplace bullying coach should have a good knowledge of organisations, organisational culture and the dynamics in business. In relation to South Africa’s focus on workplace bullying, the study found that this is greatly lacking, and special attempts should be made to create awareness of the topic in South African organisations. Investigations are proposed to incorporate workplace bullying into the South African labour legislation and to establish a Workplace Bullying Body to quantitatively and qualitatively investigate and regulate workplace bullying in South Africa.

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