Surviving Workplace Mobbing

Mobbing is defined as the prolonged malicious harassment of a coworker by an individual or group of employees in an organization to secure the removal from the organization of the one who is targeted.  Workplace Bullying or “Mobbing” is further defined by the Workplace Bullying Institute as repeated, health harming mistreatment in the form of verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, humiliation, loss of reputation, work sabotage that undermines the credibility of the target and the removal of the target through termination, extended medical leave or quitting.  Mobbing is a traumatizing experience that often results in significant financial, career, health, emotional and social loss. 

Bully Bosses or management that engage in mobbing are extremely destructive and degrading.  Most often, the mobbing is triggered by a situation which is involves some kind of incident or conflict.  After the initial incident, mobbing activities of harassment, aggressive acts and psychological assaults will ensue.  Isolation is the mobbers most harmful weapon of choice.  According to Selfgrowth.com “Targets are most often chosen by the mobbing group or individual management because of their better than average work performance.  Bullies/mobbers often feel threatened by good performers, because it increases their own feelings of inadequacy and shame.  Generally, mentally healthy people will embrase working with those that excel, mobbers can’t stand to see someone other than themselves shine.” 

How do you know if you are being mobbed in the workplace?    1) Targets will find themselves and their success minimized.  2) Targets opinions will no longer be asked  3) Targets responsibility will be minimized and degraded 4) Targets authority will be taken away 5) Targets are no long asked to participate in planning meetings and special projects pertaining their expertise 6) Targets are not longer in the “loop” of communication and information is purposefully withheld from the target as a specific means of isolation.  7) In extreme cases, targets will be physically and psychologically isolated from the work group.  Isolation is the most emotionally painful experience a mentally healthy person can endure and this is why this technique is chosen by the mobber to inflict punishment and torture.

The Bad News:  Because mobbing and the act of mobbing’s intention is purpose driven and goal oriented, the target will not find remedy from said mobbing until the goal of removal from the organization or workplace setting is reached by the purpatrator(s).  Most targets think that the mobbing will stop once they bring it to the attention of management or enforcement from legal avenues.  The truth behind it all is that most often management has become part of the mobbing cruelty and any legal action against them or the company will escalate the abuse on the target.  Having enormous impact on health and psychological well being, the target, if choosing to stay in the situation thinking / mistaking the abuse will go away, is putting themselves in harms way.  The target will be forced out of the workplace either voluntarily or non-voluntarily…this will be the only resolve for the target.

The following is a true case of mobbing within the workplace (all names have been changed to protect the target).    A Financial Consultant, with 23 years of financial expereince and degree, found herself in the middle of a mobbing case after 7 years of working with a modest sized landscape company.  Her responsibility when contracted was to advise the owners on financial navigation that served in the company’s best interest and to oversee the internal operations within the Administrative Department / Office Management.  The primary owner (wife) had been run out of the everyday oversight in the company by the minority co-owner (husband). With this being complete, the Minority Owner (“Minor”) began making dangerous decisions and un-contracted business deals.  He fired the office manager after 8 years of service and brought in another office manager from a bankrupted competitor.  The new Office Manager (“Cali”) had a felonious criminal record and an obvious drug problem.  Cali, the new office manager, quickly won the ear and support of Minor, the co-owner.  She replaced the IT vendor with a person she personally knew and proceeded to have the new IT Vendor set up a remote system from her house of all the servers in the company, both financial and operational.  She had complete access of the company and its proprietary information including contracts, from the comfort of her home.  As it became apparent that “Cali” had the complete support from “Minor”, she began using the company and field assets for personal gain and use.  “Minor” did not see a problem with this infringement of security and continued to believe that he could not run his company without the assistance of “Cali”.  The Financial Consultant expressed the massive breach of security countless times over a period of two years.  The warnings were received by “Minor” as an inconvenience.  “Cali” continued to make unapproved changes to the financial  and accounting database (despite only having Office Manager responsibility) putting the company and the owners in dire financial danger.  The Financial Contractor continued to warn “Minor” of  the infractions, provided financial reports to show the damage being done, yet the response from “Minor” was that the Financial Contractor did not know what she was doing.  The Financial Contractor was warned by “minor” that she would lose her contract if she attempted to discuss financials and concerns with the primary owner and Over a period of two years “minor” and “Cali” began a long line of documented horrific abuse.  They isolated the Financial Contractor from the other staff, withdrew communication and monthly financial meetings that were normally scheduled, ignored (or sometimes simply filed in the trash) finacial reports and audits on improprieties from the Administrative dept., Human Resource Dept and field navigation (all within Cali’s responsibility).  MObbing escalated when “Minor” began having “Cali” review and validate financial reports generated from the Financial Contractor (despite the fact that “Cali” had zero Financial background , zero business experience and a GED to her credit).  “Minor” continued to avoid the Financial Contractor, turning to unskilled (shop Manager) and unqualified (office manager) individuals for financial navigation of his company.  In the Two years of mobbing experience, the Financial Contractor developed tissue mass growth in her arms, abdomen and pectoral.  Her eyebrows fell out and bouts with sickness, depression, lack of confidence, and insomnia dominated her lifestyle. She felt like she was going into war with every Company visit.  Her reputation in the financial industry was tarnished and the Financial Consultant’s competency and mental health were brought into question by company co-workers.  “Minor’s” abusive and condescending behavior continued toward the Financial Contractor until the Contractor offered her resignation.   

Surviving the workplace can sometimes become a hostile situation.  In the case of Mobbing, the only solution for the target is to get out of the situation before things escalate beyond repair.