Sometime in October last year, an article came out claiming that 41% of Romanian employees have participated in or witness incidents in which coworkers or bosses yelled or were aggressive to each other. 8% of these are thought to be victims of mobbing, an emotional abuse by one or more people (peers, subordinates, bosses) on another worker. Often, the victims are highly competent, devoted employees, who are correct and non-confrontational in their behavior, but it can be anyone, really.
People often fail to recognize mobbing, although they feel its consequences. Work-days are long, relationships with colleagues are fraught, they work hard, but never seem to please despite clear business results, and when they wake up in the morning they loathe going to work, more than tiredness, or laziness, or wishing to hang out with family could ever warrant. In the US, the phenomenon was first discussed systematically in 1999, and since, improvements in organizations have occurred. In Romania, October’s article was the first inkling, and the conversation didn’t seem to continue, although mobbing is pernicious, resulting in loss of productivity, employee turnover, and an unhealthy culture, for the organization, and health and depression related issues for the victim-employee.
How to recognize mobbing, if you are a victim, or a manager in an organization where this is perpetrated?
Watch out for the following types of behavior, in conjunction with each other (separately, it can be just occasional bad management, consistently, it’s a serious problem):
Are most or all deadlines that are given unreasonably short? (For example, you are regularly told at 6PM that something must be done by 9 am tomorrow, but the issue was known and could have been acted on before.) Are answers or approvals on which future action depends consistently late, so that something you have asked about 3 weeks in advance is answered (despite regular follow-up) two or three days before the deadline for project completion? Is information that could have been shared in advance to help you prepare your plan of action, only released at the last moment?
Does it often happen that important information reaches you through unofficial channels, or you only find out when you are called to task for not accomplishing something (I’ve known of one manager who organized meetings with the senior leadership, and would only let some of his colleagues know on the very day, so that they would come unprepared, and he could look good and of another manager who established a clearance procedure for information release, but did not share it with a concerned department head, so that the next time this manager made a public statement, he was taken to task for not respecting company procedures.). Do other people in the organization act as if they are privileged to know something, and your lack of knowledge somehow makes you a lesser, more incompetent employee?
Are resources (people, materials) consistently unavailable to you when something needs to be accomplished? Do your contracts always get feedback from legal after everyone else’s? Are your payments always the ones delayed when there’s a cash flow difficulty? Are the people who you’re working with always assigned some last minute, urgent task, when they’re supposed to help you on your project? Do people seem to have the time to debate endlessly whether the name plate on the office door should be placed left or right of the center, but never have time to discuss a project with you? Do your meetings with management seem to be moved around a lot, interrupted a lot, or always take place at inconvenient time, after everyone else’s? Without being directly cut off from resources, which you could complain about, are there a thousand obstacles and caveats on your use of the resources (from delays, reassignment to onerous reporting on their use) , that make your tasks more difficult than they should be?
To be continued