Poland has Anti-mobbing laws. Why don't we?
"In accordance with Art. 94 § 2 of the Polish Labour Code, mobbing shall be understood as any act or conduct relating to the employee or directed against him, consisting in systematic and prolonged harassment or intimidation, that result in an underestimated judgment of professional aptitude, that humiliate, ridicule, isolate or exclude the employee from the group of his colleagues.
Mobbing may be performed both by the employer and superiors, colleagues or other employees."
When is Australia going to catch up with the world and produce effective anti-bullying and anti-mobbing laws?
So, what is Mobbing? To over-simplify it: When a single person bullies you, that is bullying. When that bully encourages most of your managers and colleagues to join him/her in bullying you, that is mobbing. And humans, like many other mammals and birds, are instinctual mobbers. It's a part of the animal's natural make-up.
When a bird sees a snake or some other danger it gives a certain call and soon the bird's 'colleagues' are there mobbing the snake or other danger, making life miserable for it, till it goes away. Australian Minors are very good at mobbing. It makes perfect sense that instinct would ensure that the birds worked together to deal with danger rather than leave each bird to fend for itself.
Humans too group together to deal with an enemy or danger. Usually this instinct is a good thing.
Someone who is both cunning and incompetent is likely to be the instigator of mobbing in the workplace. If they are just incompetent they will likely just get fired. But if they are incompetent and cunning they may avoid being detected as incompetent by encouraging everyone to gang-up on (mob) anyone who is likely to expose their competence. And so anyone who is likely to expose their incompetence becomes 'the target'. They cunningly get-in with the big boss and administration by doing whatever it takes to keep friends in 'high places'. They use every minor whinge that anyone has in the workplace (and which any good manager would simply ignore) as a 'complaint' needing investigation and 'disciplinary action' against anyone likely to expose their incompetence. This is used as proof that they are doing a good job as manager and as proof that the target is a problem who needs to be dealt with. The target's friends and colleagues soon learn that siding with the target is likely to get them into trouble. They learn that siding with the bully is best. And so the target is isolated. The organisation's code of conduct or disciplinary procedure may actually state that anyone under disciplinary investigation cannot discuss the investigation with colleagues or even reveal that an investigation is taking place. And so the target is further isolated. The administrators will either actually believe that the bully is doing a good job, or they will worry about their own incompetence at interviewing and employing such an incompetent bully. Either way it will be easier for the administration to get rid of the target than to get rid of the incompetent bully. The job of HR is to do the hiring and firing for the administration. They are NOT the target's friend. If the administration wants the target gone then it is HR's job to ensure that the target goes. And that is what HR does best.
What occurs in schools is usually called bullying. But if one reads the articles or watches the YouTube videos it becomes clear that usually what is happening is mobbing, not bullying. Usually a 'chief bully' encourages a group of peers to join together to make someone's life miserable. The kids know it is not wise to side with the target, so they side with the bully.
European's know that mobbing occurs and that it is a group bahaviour aimed at a target, both in the schoolyard and in the workplace.
For some reason the British, and their cultural progeny, the Americans and Australians, seem to think that a single bully picks on a single target and they call this 'bullying'. They don't recognise mobbing.
Some authors, like the American Gary Namie, suggest that the problem of defining what is bullying and what is mobbing is simply too confusing and that it is easier to be understood if one uses the word 'bullying' (even though he knows that it is actually mobbing). There is some merit in his argument.
Never-the-less, it is not a bad thing to understand what mobbing is. Whenever one reads about 'bullying' it may be useful to decide for oneself whether 'bullying' or 'mobbing' is meant.
Read more about Mobbing from the Tim Field website.
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