January 19, 2007

The mobbing process

Phase 1: is characterized by an initial conflict. At this stage it is not mobbing and the target may not even realize the significance of this critical incident.

Phase 2
: characterized by aggressive acts and psychological assaults... that set the mobbing processes into motion.

Phase 3
: then involves management that play a role in the negative cycle by misjudging and/or mis-interpreting the situation. Instead of extending support, they begin the isolation and expulsion process.

Phase 4
: is critical. Targets are now branded as difficult or mentally ill. This misjudgment by management and/or health professionals reinforces the negative cycle. It will almost always lead to expulsion or forced resignation.

Phase 5: is the expulsion. The trauma of this event, can additionally, trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After the expulsion, the emotional distress and psychological injury can continue and intensify.

Westhues (1998; 2004a) prefers the term elimination rather than expulsion from the workplace. He acknowledges that this is a harsh term but his intention is to highlight the devastating consequences of mobbing activities that is ‘happening everyday in workplaces in our most civilised societies’...

As noted above, targets are characterized as having a strong commitment to their work. This commitment also engenders feelings of loyalty and a strong belief in the goals of the organization (Davenport 2002). Such principles promote a feeling that that complaining is an act of disloyalty making many stay silent about their ordeal.

Davenport et.al. (2002) noted that once the phases begin they develop their own momentum.
Research indicates that the longer the worker endures the mobbing, the more difficult it is for bystanders to remain neutral and they become implicated in the mobbing process (Zapf et.al 2003).

As indicated in the above phases,
Phase 3 would seem to represent a circuit breaker to the cycle. Unfortunately, when the target finally seeks assistance they are inevitably suffering a stress related illness and management support the mobbers rather than the mobbing target.

Vanderkerchhove and Commers (2002) assert that the labelling of the target as a ‘troublemaker or mentally ill based on rumours and gossip legitimizes senior management decision to eliminate the target from the workplace

Dr. Kate Hartig (NSW) and Jeannene Frosch (ACT), Workplace Mobbing Syndrome: The ‘Silent and Unseen’ Occupational Hazard, Our Work … Our Lives: National Conference on Women and Industrial Relations, Queensland Working Women’s Service and Griffith, Griffith University, Brisbane 12-14 July 2006


Stuart said...

The management's involvement in Phase 3 is, of course, predicated on the best interests of the target of mobbing, as demonstrated by this response to my formal complaint: "I note from Dr X’s complaint that he is currently receiving treatment for severe depression. I am concerned that an adversarial process in dealing with his complaint is unlikely to facilitate and assist his recovery from his illness."

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said...

What did surprise me - after I experienced workplace bullying in an HEI - is/was to find, discover, realise that there is indeed a 'formula', there are well-documented steps that one goes through.

Of course, by the time we discover the mobbing process, it is usually too late.

This in effect means that the onus is on the management to identify any potential concerns about workplace bullying very early in the process, and deal with them effectively at that stage.

This is a big ask from academic managers who have their own (power) agenda, are ignorant about the effects of workplace bullying, and may even have an interest to sustain the status quo.

Without external, independent, monitoring and policing and access to records, figures and statistis, we will never know the complete picture, universities will always remain locked in a negative groupthink.

A vicious circle that we need to break... HEFCE has responsibility, the government has responsibility, the unions have responsibility, and of course all our colleagues have responsibilities.

Anonymous said...

Simple, conflict of interest will automatically be present in self regulatory situations.

An independent monitoring committee is the only solution.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said...

An independent monitoring committee with some 'teeth' to intervene compulsory at the right stage of the process.

And the right stage of the process is not after the penalty on the academic has been impossed by a disciplinary hearing, but rather before.

ACAS comes into the process far too late. By this stage academics have suffered too much and are likely to settle out of court.

It should be compulsory for all universities to refer their grievance and disciplinary hearings/transcripts/procedures to an independent monitoring committee with some 'teeth' - so that the process is scrutinised before the penalty.

Employers should keep all statistics of workplace bullying and provide reports every year to this independent monitoring committee with some 'teeth.

And so on, and so forth...

Stuart said...

Pierre-Joseph wrote "Employers should keep all statistics of workplace bullying and provide reports" - we had the suggestion from an expert review group that the Health & Safety Authority require all employers to record the number of bullying complaints, outcomes (upheld , dismissed, resolved without finding), proportion of staff on fixed-term contracts, sickness rates, stress-related leave, staff law suits, legal fees and settlements. The new Guidelines were watered down to "Monitoring : The policy should include a commitment to monitoring incidents of bullying at work so as to evaluate and improve upon the policy and procedures as necessary".

Anonymous said...

...and continuing from my previous post, did I mention that her colleague in equality and diversity "I do not want to talk to you, you could put words into my mouth", was that a preparation to discredit me and to prevent me from disclosing how I was treated. Doesn't that constitute further bullying the already bullied complainant, further causing the complainant mental torment.

She also asked me to leave the matter to HR, "will do the best for you" and to "keep your head down". Was that elementary school?

An wareness campagin: Don't talk to HR, they are immoral.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said...

HR work FOR the employer, not for the employee. In the end, they too have to play the game, otherwise their jobs are at risk too.

You can still report all HR mistakes, errors and inappropriate behaviour, to their professional association, the CIPD. And we strongly suggest you do so.

CIPD Code of Conduct for the members:

[4.2.1] required to exercise integrity, honesty, diligence and appropriate behaviour in all their business, professional and related personal activities

[4.2.2] must act within the law and must not encourage, assist or act in collusion with employers, employees or others who may be engaged in unlawful conduct.

If you have evience that the HR colluded to discriminate you, victimise you, marginalise you, or collude with the employer, then you should report it to the CIPD. Otherwise why do they have a conde of conduct?