Bullying by Mob
Janice Harper: What the Stanford Prison Experiment Can Teach Us About the Workplace
A focus on interpersonal conflicts between the bad bully and the good worker focuses on seemingly inherent qualities of individuals, and fails to explain the sheer brutality that ensues when bullying expands to include multiple people engaged in shunning, gossiping about, sabotaging, and making accusations and reports against a targeted worker. The collective bullying of a worker is called “mobbing,” and it typically ensues when a worker does or says something to annoy management, and management declares or demonstrates that the worker is unwanted. When that happens, it takes little effort to persuade the broader workforce to turn against the worker.
Just as Zimbardo talks about the slippery slope of evil that begins with the subject mindlessly taking the first step toward aggression through a seemingly minor action, when mobbing begins, workers are not initially encouraged to be cruel to the targeted worker. Far from it; they are told the worker must go, that it is the worker’s own doing, and the worker will be better off if they just move on. The first step onto the slippery slope of mobbing behavior thus often begins with something as simple as agreeing with management that the targeted worker must go — even if the decision to terminate the worker is clearly arbitrary or punitive or in some cases illegal, such as retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, discrimination or unlawful behavior.
I have seen a lot of articles on workplace bullying but they tend to focus on single perpetrators. This talks about mobbing, a phenomenon where multiple people bully a worker. This is not uncommon. Please go to the web site and read the full article. It’s worth your while.
From around the web –
From the web site, Mobbing and Bullying:
A recent study showed that about 35 percent of students who are bullied experience post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. This study echoes the findings of workplace mobbing research done by Dr. Heinz Leymann in the early 1980’s and has been validated many times by targeted individuals with whom I have worked. If we understand that bullying and mobbing attack the spiritual, psychological and emotional health of the individual as well as the physical, we also must consider that the damage done in an organization by this behavior goes beyond those directly involved.
From the web site, EndMobbing:
Mobbing is the targeting of persons in workplaces and schools by another individual or group of individuals in order to degrade, humiliate, and ultimately remove them from the workplace or school organization. This removal can be through firing, expulsions, or because the target can no longer tolerate the conditions and leaves of his or her own accord. The consequences for victims of mobbing are usually devastating. For its victims, mobbing affects physical heath, psychological and emotional health, relationships with family members, and, for workers, financial health. Mobbing also tends to erode a victim’s belief in a fair and just world. Mobbing is different from bullying because the workplace or school organizations are also involved, either through failure to act to protect their members when they have a responsibility to act, or through “blaming the victim” and joining the attack in progress on the victim, usually acting through official, bureaucratic channels. Secrecy and lack of transparency among organizational leaders and the presence of a hostile workplace culture are common indicators of mobbing-prone organizations.
And from the web site, The Hidden Evil’s Weblog:
Mobbing sometimes continues after individuals have left the organization. Although this can rarely be proven, slandering continues… This ongoing mobbing, even after the individuals are no longer connected with the organization, seems to justify the Mobbers previous behavior & upholds the organization s decision. They try to defend themselves by continuing to destroy the victim s reputation… Dianna: the next minute I thought, Howe can all these people just go along with this? Yet I would think, I can t blame these people. I know they have to go along with this for their own survival
This is from the Ethics Sage’s latest post – What to Do if You Are the Target of a Workplace Bullier –
Workplace Bullying refers to repeated, unreasonable actions of individuals (or a group) directed towards an employee (or a group of employees), which are intended to intimidate, degrade, humiliate, or undermine, or which create a risk to the health or safety of the employee(s) including physical and emotional stress. The purpose of this blog is to help you identify whether you are the target of a bullier. If so, you should act immediately. This blog provides some resources to use to resolve the issues and stress it can cause in the workplace. The longer you wait to deal with the issue, the more difficult it becomes to achieve a successful resolution of the matter because the negative treatment becomes endemic to the workplace culture and other employees accept it as part of the group dynamic.
The Ethics Sage is willing to do more than talk about the subject. He is willing to offer advice while protecting your privacy. Go here to reach him.
Steven Mintz is willing to offer advice on work place dilemma’s. He promises privacy and protection of your identity. Here he explains what he wants to do and how he can help you.
Steven Mintz explains his policy on privacy and advising in this piece from his web site, which I have copied as exactly.
Workplace Ethics Advice Answers Your Questions
Workplace Ethics Advice is my new blog that expands on the Ethics Sage website to provide reasoned advice how best to deal with workplace ethics issues. Workplace ethics issues may include:
These are just examples of conflicts that may test your commitment to act ethically in the workplace. When faced with a dilemma the first step should always be to clarify your organization’s policy on handling such matters. For example, some companies have an ethics hotline where you can report issues of concern on an anonymous basis. Some have an ombudsperson to provide guidance on ethics issues. Also, be sure you are aware of the code of conduct in your organization because you don’t want to deal with someone else’s possible code violation while creating your own violation.
YOU CAN CONTACT THE ETHICS SAGE, aka Steven Mintz, AT ANY TIME DURING THE DILEMMA. Sometimes it’s best to contact me for advice immediately after the conflict arises and tell me about any company policy so that I can best understand the context of your situation and outline steps to take right away.
Once I receive an inquiry from you I will examine all possible alternative courses of action and respond to you within 24 hours. You can then send me a follow-up question to further clarify my advice. In order to help others, if I believe your question has general applicability in the workplace then I may decide to post your question and my answer on the website. I WILL NOT RELEASE YOUR NAME UNLESS YOU EXPLICITLY REQUEST IT OR INDICATE YOU DON’T MIND IF I DO SO. ALL OUR COMMUNICATIONS ARE COMPLETELY CONFIDENTIAL UNLESS YOU WAIVE THAT PRIVILEGE!
Let me help you to navigate the sometimes rough waters of trying to be a loyal, ethical employee in the face of pressures to do otherwise.
If you believe you are the target of a workplace bully, speak to the person doing the bullying. Similar to sexual harassment in the workplace, a topic of a previous blog, the first step with bullying is to make your feelings known that it is unwanted and unwelcome behavior. While you know it can negatively affect workplace performance, I recommend you not mention that to a supervisor because it might be held against you if the matter gets out of control and a workplace demotion or firing needs to be “justified.” While talking to other employees may seem to be a logical step, be careful who you choose to discuss the matter with as that person might be pressured by the bullier down the road to tell the latter’s side of the story. What should you do? Be sure to keep a log to record when each incident occurred; what was said or done in response to it; and your feelings on the matter. It is a good idea to give a copy of the log to a trusted advisor who can independently attest to the facts down the road if that becomes necessary. This is similar to the protective step I recommend for a whistle-blower, the topic of my next blog.
Steven Mintz has been blogging for quite some time. He works hard at it and is well informed. His blog posts are backed up by careful research and a well ordered writing style. I recommend you read his blogs, favorite the site and subscribe. He’s one of the best ethics bloggers on the web.
One of my regrets is I don’t talk as much about workplace bullying as much as I should. It’s a controversial area with some claiming it doesn’t exist.
I’ve seen it. I don’t like it. We as a nation should do something about it. Legislation is necessary to address the issue.
I admire David Yamada and his blog and, in particular, his wilingness to keep going in a difficult struggle.
Please read this and subcribe to David’s blog.
“Don’t cause any trouble.” “It won’t do any good.” “Nothing ever changes.” “You’ll just get fired.” “He’s the boss’ favorite, you’ll get canned.” The litany goes on.
It’s a cultural thing. We are supposed to be tough, supposed to be able to handle it, not be a sissy.
That is empowerment. Definite, hardcore, empowerment. It makes every bully, every wiseass put down artist – well nigh invincible.
If there is anything you should avoid, it’s making some two-bit bullies feel good about themselves.
The article below explains some of the downsides to not speaking out.
Yamada’s work is excellent. I recommend his work.
Workplace bullying is not a big deal. That’s a ridiculous statement. I’ve seen workplace bullying and heard stories from others. It is a serious problem.
David Yamada talks about bullying deniers in this current post. Reading it I worked up some outrage. I think it is likely you will too.
I would like to praise the article but the power of the article and its raw emotional power is beyond my poor powers of description. You should just read.
David Yamada is back discussing whether emotional detachment (withdrawel?) is an appropriate response to work place problems. He contrasts Roberts Sutton’s current view with that of a much older source, Albert O. Hirschman. Yamada concludes that it is a solution of a sort but a sad solution.