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Mobbing: A checklist of indicators

In the 5 stages of mobbing post I mentioned that for those within an organisation it can be difficult to identify mobbing. The reason for this is being apart of the organisational culture and systems can blind us to seeing how we act in an objective and unbiased way. Researchers have provided a way of checking to us check to see if it is happening in our organisations. Westthues (2006) provides 16 items to check.
Review the situation against this adapted checklist:
  1. By standard criteria of job performance, the target is at least average, probably above average.
  2. Rumours and gossip circulate about the target’s misdeeds: “Did you hear what s/he did last week?”
  3. The target is not invited to meetings or voted onto committees, is excluded or excludes self.
  4. Collective focus on a critical incident that “shows what kind of person they really are.”
  5. Shared conviction that the target needs some kind of formal punishment, “to be taught a lesson.”
  6. Unusual timing of the decision to punish, e. g., apart from the annual performance review.
  7. Emotional and/or defamatory comments about the target in oral and written communications.
  8. Formal expressions of collective negative feelings toward the target, e. g. a vote of censure, signatures on a petition, meeting to discuss what to do about the target.
  9. High value on secrecy, confidentiality, and group solidarity among the mobbers.
  10. Loss of diversity of argument, so that it becomes dangerous to “speak up for”or defend the target.
  11. The adding up of the target’s real or imagined "sins" to make a "mortal sin" that justifies action.
  12. The target is seen as despicable, has no redeeming qualities and everyone uses labels designed to stigmatise and exclude.
  13. Disregard for proper procedures and fairness, as mobbers take matters into their own hands.
  14. Resistance to independent, outside review of sanctions imposed on the target.
  15. Outraged response to any appeals for outside help the target may make.
  16. Mobbers’ fear of violence from target, target’s fear of violence from mobbers, or both.

Because every situation is different I do not believe there has been a set number of items required to indicate when mobbing is happening. But obviously the more items that are occurring the more likely the severity of the problem is. This helps provide an objective overview of the situation and tells you if something is wrong.

Once identified then the real work begins. How do you deal with it.

Source of checklist: Kenneth Westhues, 2006
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