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Mobbing, the next step up from bullying behaviour

There is a lot of information about bullying behaviour and its use and impact. But there is even a darker side to it which is know as mobbing. Bullying behaviour sits in the middle of a continuum with healthy relationships on one side and mobbing on the other. Mobbing is bullying behaviour carried to the extreme.
Not only is the target subjected to bullying behaviour by others but the organisation they are in helps them do it. The organisation takes no action to stop it and actively supports those using bullying behaviour. The target is labeled a trouble maker or mentally ill and the primary goal is to get rid of them.

Mobbing can occur in any organisation from schools, universities, and hospitals to factories. From volunteer organisations, local committee's and sports clubs to board rooms and business offices. It can occur anywhere a group of people function as an organised group.

The types of mobbing behaviour is the same found in bullying behaviour. The real difference is the organisation helps to carry it out and might actively promote the mobbing of others.

Lets have a look at an example of mobbing to see the difference. An employee is responsible for quality control and so reports any defects. They do this well and anything that does not meet the set benchmarks is reported. However, all the staff receive a bonus based on the level of output that meets the quality control guidelines. Because the number of reported defects impacts on the level of the bonuses, the other staff pressure the quality control assessor not to report the borderline cases.

The employee feels they have a job to do and must keep within guidelines and so continues to report the defects as they should do. Others including the supervisors begin to use bullying behaviour towards the quality controller in retaliation. Nothing changes so they begin to try and make the person leave the job. The employee complains to the personnel department about how they are being treated but personal department take the word of the supervisors.

Because of the complaint everyone now considers them a trouble maker who needs to be got rid of. The supervisors start to give the employee bad performance reports to try and get them dismissed. Personnel department now begin to take performance related action as well as doing nothing about the bullying behaviour that is continuing. Getting no help from the organisation the mobbing becomes so bad the employee cannot do their job and their mental health is badly impacted. They eventually have to leave the job otherwise they will be dismissed, which they feel will look even worse on their job record.

Not only do individual workers use bullying behaviour but senior members of the organisation allow it to happen and also carry it out. The system the organisation developed rewards staff to reducing defects. While this is a great goal, the original intent has been undermined and a culture developed which is focused on the easiest way of increasing bonuses - under reporting of defects.

Of course the expectations for the next quality controller will be to also minimise defect reports. This has had and will continue to have dramatic effects for any person who is in the quality control role. If they do the job properly everyone will be out to get them. If they don't the organisations reputation and product suffers. This will now have long term effects not only for the quality control staff but for the organisation as well.

Mobbing can occur everywhere and in any organisation. In particular organisational systems and culture can contribute to it occurring. We need to be on our guard against it.
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