This is the editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay as it appeared in to-day’s Spectator. The Hamilton and Toronto football teams play off in Toronto Sunday for a place in the Grey Cup game next week.
Mayor Ford, a football enthusiast and former coach, wore his Argonaut team sweater to work on Thursday (not smart) and threatened to make a jeering phone call to the Hamilton mayor, whose name he got wrong (even worse)!
As it happens, MacKay’s cartoon is an excellent introduction for to-day’s topic: mobbing.
The term Mobbing has nothing to do with mobs waving placards and shouting chants. It is now used in a technical sense to describe group behaviour, especially in a workplace, that acts collectively to shun and destroy a fellow employee. It is like a collective, organized, and adult form of the destructive bullying we see among children. There has recently been a huge campaign against bullying, a zero tolerance policy… but it remains to be seen whether this will have any significant impact, especially among teens with internet access and social networking skills.
I first heard the term mobbing used in connection with Professor Kenneth Westhues of the University of Waterloo. His website dedicated to the topic is especially interesting. I just read his explanation of the tragedy in the 2007 massacre at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, when a fourth-year student murdered 32 professors and students and injured a further 25, before taking his own life. Read it here.
As usual, Wikipedia is a good starting point for finding references on any topic. Here is part of the article there.
Mobbing in the context of human beings means bullying of an individual by a group in any context, such as a family, school, workplace, neighborhood, or community.
When it occurs as emotional abuse in the workplace, such as “ganging up” by co-workers, subordinates or superiors, to force someone out of the workplace through rumor, innuendo, intimidation, humiliation, discrediting, and isolation, it is also referred to as malicious, nonsexual, nonracial, general harassment…
In the book MOBBING: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace, [Davenport, Schwartz & Elliott] the authors identify mobbing as a particular type of bullying that is not as apparent as most, defining it as “…an emotional assault. It begins when an individual becomes the target of disrespectful and harmful behavior. Through innuendo, rumors, and public discrediting, a hostile environment is created in which one individual gathers others to willingly, or unwillingly, participate in continuous malevolent actions to force a person out of the workplace.”
The authors say that mobbing is typically found in work environments that have poorly organised production and/or working methods and incapable or inattentive management and that mobbing victims are usually “exceptional individuals who demonstrated intelligence, competence, creativity, integrity, accomplishment and dedication”.
Does the Rob Ford situation fit the description? It is certainly a hostile environment!
And what about the really nasty and uncivil behaviour seen in so many television programs centered on the workplace and reality TV. Sometimes it appears, both in the news and in real life that mobbing is an entrenched reaction to stress and disagreement. I could tell stories; I am confident you can also! If you are still reading, here is a graphic I found on Google Images. Does any of it sound familiar? From WHEN THE ABUSER GOES TO WORK ： An Employment Law Blog about Workplace Bullying, Discrimination & Abuse