Workplace mobbing is emotional abuse. Period. Joyce is a productive and innovative employee, who has lots of bright ideas that many in the company find threatening. Paula decides she doesn’t like Joyce because she feels threatened by her, so enlists her co-workers by spreading rumors and falsehoods about her – thereby humiliating and discrediting her among others. Workplace mobbing isn’t just done by front-lines – often management takes part of it as well so Joyce feels she has no place to turn. She decides to quit the company.
Workplace mobbing often happens when an individual joins the company who has ideas and thoughts that run counter to the ingrained culture of the organization. Employees are comfortable within the status quo and do not want change. However, Joyce is the very person they need to move forward and grow – instead of trying to find common ground and seeing if there is validity in what Joyce suggests – the company isolates her instead.
Workplace mobbing doesn’t just happen to new employees either – it can happen to an employee who has recently received a promotion with higher levels of accountability and authority – or someone who was once their peer who is now their boss. Those who were passed over for the promotion, start analyzing and picking apart everything that their new boss does and actively tries to sabotage them in their new role.
Any form of workplace mobbing is a symptom of a poorly managed organization. It occurs in many types of organization, but may flourish in a bureaucratic environment. These are the same companies that espouse “workplace safety” and have “rules” in place to protect their workforce. Make no mistake about it – workplace mobbing is a safety and health issue.
Instead of quitting, Joyce decides to approach HR about the mobbing that she has been experiencing – only to find that HR invalidates her feelings and labels it a “personality conflict” with no real protection for Joyce or consequences for Paula and others that are involved in the mob. Bad behavior is overlooked. The company then looks around and can’t understand why they have a toxic culture.
One defense against workplace mobbing is to document everything – even if you think it is trivial to show a pattern of attacks. This gives more leverage with those in a senior position within the company – especially if management is involved. Because if management says that you are not performing – well it must be true and others on the management team begin to believe the lies as well. This mobbing can lead to poor performance reviews and eventual dismissal from the company. Most importantly, by documenting everything and making sure you have a copy of all events – it gives you legal recourse later should you need to go that route.
The best thing for Joyce was to leave the company and find a work environment that supports and values her hard work. What do you think?
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