Management Transition – How to Take Over Without Taking Over

ABSTRACT:

10 tips for new managers to make their transition to their new position easier.

Stuart Miles - Leadership

Someone Else’s Recruits Part II

When transitioning into a new management position, the first ninety days are crucial. As a new manager, it is your job to get in and take charge. But there is a catch. Delve in too quickly and you run the risk of alienating your team, thus crushing morale and stifling production. Have too light a hand and you will lose their respect. It is an intricate balancing act that you must do to maintain order and inspire and motivate your team to reach higher. It can be daunting and intimidating. However, there is hope. These tips can help your transition period run a little more smoothly and make your integration into your new team much easier.

1. Tread Softly – at least at first – Start Small

When you come into your new position, resist the urge to make a great deal of changes immediately. In fact, sit back and observe. You can implement a few minor changes such as break schedules or routine procedures, but, again, proceed with a soft step. But, one crucial mistake that new managers make is that they delegate the “grunt” jobs to their employees and take the easy tasks for themselves. Never ask your employees to do something that you would not do yourself.

2. Learn to Listen

Your employees are on the front line and the ones who hear your customers first hand. They have a feel for what works and what needs to be fixed. You would do yourself a great favor by asking your employees four little words: What do you think? Ask them what is working and what needs to be fixed. You can have formal staff meetings where you have your employees submit their comments and recommendations to you and then open the floor for discussion, or you can construct your own “comment box” for your employees to submit ideas any time that something comes to mind. Just make sure that you check the box often and seriously consider the comments and suggestions that are submitted to you.

3. Keep Open Communication

Your employees are not mind readers and if you are new, they don’t know you. Anticipate their concerns and address them before things get out of hand and you wind up with a disgruntled team. If there is any possible way for you to have a meeting prior to your starting working with your team, by all means, do it. If not, as soon as possible introduce yourself to your team, even if you have to take each member individually and chat with them briefly. You don’t have to go into anything lengthy, just get a feel for each team member and allow them to get a feel for you. Most of all, keep the lines of communication open. Be approachable and don’t let your emotions get the best of you. If you ask for honesty and a direct approach, be prepared to get just that. There is no room here for you to get your feelings hurt. Suck it up and approach your employees, ask them what is on their minds and take it into consideration.

4. Get to know Your Team

Meet with your team as a whole but also take time to meet with each individual member. Through your observations and conversations with them, you need to find their talents and abilities and find creative ways to use them to the team’s advantage. Also keep an eye open for talents that may yet be untapped by the members. For instance, you may see outstanding artistic ability in a team member, but they do not realize that they have that talent. Work with them and help them develop the talent in a way that it will benefit the team and your mission. As a leader it is your job to inspire and motivate your employees. You want to mentor your employees and mold them into leaders. They can be leaders within the team and they may even be promoted within your organization. By empowering them and keeping the lines of communication open, and knowing each team member you will create a team that is unstoppable. But they will also be loyal.

5. Be a Team Player

As “the boss” it may be tempting to delegate the grungy tasks to the employees and leave the nicer duties for yourself. But that won’t win you any points in the popularity department and it certainly is not the mark of a leader. Don’t ever ask your employees to do something that you won’t do yourself. When they see you working alongside them, working with them, scrubbing toilets and mopping floors – or whatever undesirable tasks may need to be done, they will develop respect for you. When they see that you don’t put yourself on a pedestal and that you work just as hard as – or harder than – they do they will be more inclined to respect you and be loyal to you. Help each team member develop individual goals as well as goals for the team. Encourage all of the members to reach higher and celebrate their successes.

6. Don’t Compare your Old Job to your New One – or your Employees

Your old job is your old job. Even if you are making a move within your company, realize that the landscape has changed. For one, your position has changed so you are viewed differently, but two, and this is most important, your new team is not your previous team. While some techniques and procedures may be maintained from your previous position, you can not approach your new team as if it was your old team. They will not act the same, perform the same and respond the same so don’t put them in the position of feeling that they have to live up to your old team or outperform them. When you begin comparing your new team to your old one, you will only serve to cause resentment in your new team.

7. Realize that you have a Lot to learn – and Show It

Whether you have 1 year experience as a manager, 10 years or 25 years experience, you don’t know it all. If you are entering into your first management position, then realize that you have a lot to learn. Most of all, let your employees know that you are human. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and opinions of your team, but don’t come across as needy or whiney. Learn the difference and maintain that balance.

8. Play by the Rules

You are the boss and you can probably take certain liberties that your employees can not. Resist that urge. When you start breaking the rules just because you can, you are asking for trouble. Don’t put yourself on a pedestal, get in the trenches with the rest of your team and work alongside them. Play by the rules and your employees will respect you.

9. Learn to Listen

The first rule to being a great conversationalist is learn to listen. This is also the first rule in being a great leader. Listen to your employees and stay in tune with them, their moods and what they think would improve their work environment. Ask questions and genuinely listen to their responses. Keep the lines of communication open but always listen.

10. Don’t Hog the Credit

This is simple but is often overlooked by new managers. When an employee comes up with a great idea, it is very tempting to present it as your own to your superior. In a word: Don’t. If it is not your idea, give credit where credit is due. If you are commended for great performance, don’t keep the credit for yourself; remember to commend your team for their hard work and contributions. Even if you have an employee who outperforms you or who is a better salesperson or better at crunching numbers, make certain that credit is given where it is due. When your team sees that you give them the credit for good performance, they will work harder. If they see that you take the credit for yourself, you will most certainly see production plummet.

There are so many things to remember when you are trying to transition into a new management position, but if you keep your people in your focus, you will find that you have a loyal team that will help you propel all of you to greater heights. You can’t go it alone and if you alienate your team and find yourself on the outside, you will be in big trouble. It is tough to get a team back once you have violated their trust. Start off on the right foot and keep these strategies in mind as you work toward bringing your team to the next level.

Management and Human Relations – Bridging the Gap

ABSTRACT:

The first three months are difficult for new managers. There are some ways to make the transition easier.

bluebay - management

Someone Else’s Recruits – Part I

Management is not an easy job. After more than 20 years in management, I can tell you that it does not matter whether you are working with a corporate team, non-profit team or small company, you are still dealing with a variety of backgrounds and personalities – and you are often dealing with someone else’s recruits. These factors can present quite the challenge to even the most seasoned manager, but if you are a greenhorn walking into such a situation you have your work cut out for you.

Take a moment and look at the situation through your new employees’ eyes. Perhaps they feel that they have an established team and view you as bullying your way into the group and taking over, stripping them of their empowerment. Or, you may be coming in on the heels of a beloved leader and the team may view you as someone who wants to come in, take over and take the old manager’s place. While you do need to maintain some sort of order, it is vital that you get your team on your side.

If you are one of “those” types of managers who comes cowboying into the management arena, heady with power, out to take control of the position, employees and everything else that goes with it you are doomed for failure. That is the biggest mistake that a new manager can make.

Like it or not, as a manager you need those employees, especially those who have “been around” and who know the lay of the land. An existing staff can be invaluable in helping you settle into your new position. Remember, you are an outsider. You are coming in to an existing team. The team members have likely supported each other through tough times on the job and celebrated the highs together. For you to come barreling in, attempting to “take over” (whether you mean to or not, that is how you will be perceived, mark my words) will do nothing but make you appear hostile, like the enemy.

While your first inclination may be to “straighten up” the existing problems, your primary focus should be on building a cohesive team. Many inexperienced managers blast into their new positions, making numerous changes and demands. This management model is known as the “Command and Control” method. Although this may be the easy way and the quickest, it is not the best and certainly not the most efficient. Additionally, it just plain does not work, especially if you want a team that works. Your employees, your team should be considered before the bottom line. If you have happy employees who feel valued and empowered, your bottom line will not suffer in the least. Happy employees mean happy customers and happy customers spend more money. However, if your employees are disgruntled and feel as if they are pawns in your power trip, you just might find yourself running your business alone and incurring the tremendous expense of hiring and training new employees – again and again and again.

Your first order of business as a new manager should not be to fix all the wrongs in the company. You have humans working with you and it is your job to get them on your side first. If you can’t get your team on your side, you will be facing tremendous challenges as a manager. I won’t say that you will fail or you won’t stay in your position long, but I will say that if you don’t connect with your team, your new position will be much more difficult.

Don’t try to do everything at once. Take your time, remember to breathe and your transition into you new management position will go smoother. It is important for you listen to your employees and let them know that you value them, their contributions and their hard work. As their manager, you must take the position of team leader but don’t take their power from them. An effective, productive team is empowered and inspired. Keep an employee bulletin board where you post encouraging messages and quotes, reward hard work with recognition (a gold star can go a long way!) and don’t be afraid to ask for another perspective. You are not expected to know everything and have all the answers. To approach your new position with such an attitude is a turn off and will likely land you on the outs with the rest of the team.

A good leader leads by following. They don’t ask their employees to do anything that they would not do themselves and they are open to suggestions from their employees. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know everything and that you don’t have all the answers. Work with your employees, inspire and motivate them by working with them, not over them and you will find your management transition to be much smoother.

Mobbing and Workplace Abuse: Survival Guide

ABSTRACT:

A practical, realistic guide for surviving mobbing or workplace abuse by someone who has been through it. 11 tips that you can start using today to survive.

David Castillo Dominici - depressed man

Mobbing is a generalized form of workplace abuse. It is not sexual or racial or any other form of harassment that is covered by laws. It typically manifests as emotional abuse with superiors, co-workers and even subordinates “ganging up” on one person in an effort to force them out of the workplace. Various forms and signs of abuse include intimidation, discrediting, innuendo, humiliation, isolation and rumor.

There are no set laws that protect workers from this type of harassment and abuse. Of course, getting a new job is the ideal solution most of the time, but that is usually impractical or even impossible. However, it is possible to survive mobbing and even rise above it.

I was a victim of mobbing at my place of employment for more several months. At its worst, I was not allowed to attend team or staff meetings and my co-workers were not allowed to talk to me. If they did, their jobs were threatened. I was completely isolated, verbally abused, yelled at in front of co-workers (for things I did not do) and continually called into my PM’s office and withstood a litany of false accusations. I was and still am a good employee with a strong work ethic. I am a hard worker and am very productive. I never received any explanation for why I was treated the way I was. One day the PM was fired and a new PM came on board who was much different and the abuse ended.

The damage, though, had been done and I had already put out feelers to find a new job. I did find a different employer and was much happier – I am even better now that I work for myself as a freelancer. But the dark times sometimes haunt me still, mainly because I have no idea why they treated me the way that they did – and I never even received an apology. That is water under the bridge though. What is important now is that I survived – this is how I did it.

Do Talk to Someone Objective

It never hurts to bounce things off of someone who is objective to make sure that you aren’t overreacting. Talk to someone you trust who can give you an objective opinion on whether the behavior appears to be abusive or not. If your company has an alternative dispute resolution office or a mediator you may want to speak with them if it is safe to do so.

Don’t Decrease your Production

As the stress of abuse drains you, you may find it difficult to be as productive as normal. Do whatever you can to combat this. Whatever you do, don’t allow your production to fall. If your workload is decreased or your responsibilities reduced, continue to do the best job possible, but never allow yourself to appear idle. Take a course if your employer offers professional development courses or do some professional reading. It is important to always look busy.

Do Document Everything

Document every conversation, confrontation and instance of abuse. Record the date, time, key persons involved and as much detail about the event as possible. Keep it in a safe place (not on your work computer). Try to write your reports as soon after the event occurred as possible, while it is still fresh in your mind. Also, keep all performance evaluations, records of work you have done, schedules and any other proof that you are doing your job and are a “good employee.” If you can, take photos, record conversations and save emails. Some companies do not allow cameras and recorders, so this may not be an option for you, but do whatever you can to document as much as you can.

Don’t Lose your Cool

When someone is bullying you and being abusive to you, it can be very tempting to blow up or have a complete meltdown. It is vital that you keep your emotions in check. Remain as neutral as possible. Appearing depressed or beaten down can spur your attacker or attackers to continue or even heighten the abuse. Bullies feed off of the feeling they get when they can beat someone down. Blowing up will likely only agitate them and could get you booted right out the door.

Do Get Counseling

It is a good idea to get counseling to help you cope with the stress and pain of abuse. If you don’t have insurance, many counties have mental health services for uninsured citizens that are either free or on a sliding scale fee. Some places even provide counseling over the phone. A good counselor can give you some good coping tools and help you keep the workplace stress from affecting your home life.

Don’t Feed the Drama

Remain as neutral as possible. If others are gossiping about you or about your attacker, don’t join in. Engaging in gossip about your attacker will only feed the drama and could cause the situation to escalate. It may be tempting to gather your allies and enjoy their outraged support of you, but don’t go there. It will make the entire workplace more uncomfortable than it already is and could even get some of your co-workers in the hot seat.

Do Create a Support System

You do need a support system to help you get through the abuse. If you have some co-workers that you trust, you can turn to them. Meet with them outside of work, at lunch or after work, to talk. Don’t engage in discussions about the abuse or the bully while you are in your office or in the building. You just don’t know who is listening. You can also join support groups for people who are victims of workplace abuse. There are several on Facebook if you’d rather go the social media route. Be careful, though, social media can be great but it can also be full of the very bullies that you are seeking to escape.

Don’t be Combative

When you are attacked, your first instinct may be to fight back. If someone is yelling at you, you may feel like jarring back at them. Don’t do it. They could be doing it as a way to provoke you and when you fight back you can be dinged with disciplinary action for being “insubordinate” or worse. Like I said earlier, keep your cool. Don’t stoop to their level and argue with them. Calmly state your side and if they continue to be abusive, sit quietly. Answer questions as concisely. Don’t say any more than you have to and don’t be afraid of periods of silence. The more you say, the more ammunition you give them. But if you are silent and just look at them, they are more likely to say things that will trip them up.

Do take Care of Yourself

Enduring abuse is extremely stressful and taxing on the mind, body and spirit. Take care of yourself. Eat right, get enough sleep and relax when you can. Do little things for yourself like take a long, hot bath, read a book or go for a walk. Exercise is a great stress reliever and it can go a long way in helping you cope. Your work day may be horrible, but when you walk out that door leave it all behind you.

Don’t give them a Reason

Abuse can lead to stress and depression which can cause a variety of problems, both physical and mental. While it may be difficult to put one foot in front of the other or even to get out of bed, you simply have to do it. Do not give them a reason to discipline you or even notice you. This means don’t come in late, don’t leave early, don’t take an extended lunch, don’t have too many absences and don’t take too many breaks. While your co-workers may be enjoying a more lax working environment, it is important the you absolutely tow the line.

Do know that it isn’t your Fault

Most mobbing and bullying is not any fault of the victim. It is usually due to the bully’s own insecurities, intimidations and personality issues. It isn’t your fault. People make the choice to abuse. They thrive on hurting people and making them feel bad, beating them down. There is probably nothing that you could have done to stop it.

I survived some long, difficult, painful, dark months while I was being bullied. I posted various scriptures from the Bible in my cubicle, verses that gave me strength and hope. I took the words from the song “Trading my Sorrows” and posted them on my wall along with inspirational poems (like “Don’t Quit!”) and inspiring quotes. When the days would get dark, I turned to these words and they gave me the strength to go on. Oh, and I did a lot of praying.

Workplace Abuse Checklist

ABSTRACT:

Emotional abuse, whether at home or at work can be tricky to identify. Typically, the victims of abuse are made to feel that their feelings of being abused are unfounded. This checklist will help identify instances of abuse.

abusive man

Psychological violence, mobbing, harassment and other forms of workplace abuse have remained out of the lime light for a variety of reasons. Since it is not usually driven by the known forms of harassment: sex, race, disability, etc., most people have a difficult time wrapping their minds around the concept. However, this form of abuse is very real and very damaging. Think about it. You spend a good deal of your time at work. To put it into perspective, a week consists of 168 hours, so if you are working 40 hours a week and are enduring any of these forms of workplace abuse, then almost a quarter of your life each week is spent in an abusive environment. That is not healthy.

While we pay close attention to domestic violence, little heed is given to abuse in the workplace. This blind eye has allowed it to flourish and grow into a serious problem that is crippling our workforce. As with any abuser, their intent is to beat down their victim, gain control and destroy their self esteem. Many victims of abuse, in the workplace or otherwise, feel worn down, exhausted, destroyed and hopeless. They feel that they have no recourse, are not able to defend themselves and have not choice but to continue in the dysfunctional, destructive relationship with their abuser. Few feel capable of defending themselves and fewer still feel that they have the power to initiate legal action. They feel trapped and alone, which is exactly what their abuser wants. It is how he or she maintains power over the victim.

This checklist will help you determine if you are being abused, particularly at work.

Does your employer/co-worker….

____Reprimand you in front of your co-workers?

____ Make fun of or embarrass you in front of your co-workers?

____Belittle or criticize your accomplishments?

____ Try to undermine or halt your pursuit of personal or professional goals?

____ Make you feel powerless or not in control?

____Cause you to feel as if you are unable to make decisions?

____Use threats (implicit or explicit) or intimidation to gain your compliance?

____Tell you that you will not find another job that will put up with you the way they do?

____Get physical with you, rough or not (any unwanted physical contact is harassment)?

____Use physical forms of intimidation such as checking up on you, lurking near your work area, standing very close to you when talking to you or standing over you?

____Use their position of authority as an excuse for saying hurtful things or for abusing you?

____Use physical forms of intimidation when meeting with you or reprimanding you (standing in the doorway, making threatening gestures, raising their voice, standing over you, etc)?

____Blame you for their actions towards you?

____Use verbal bullying as a way of manipulating you (interrupting, yelling, not listening, changing the topic, twisting your words)?

____Blame you for things that you did not do and for which they have no proof?

____Fabricate things that you have done wrong, then reprimand you for them?

____Mocks you, ridicules you, puts you down, calls you names, trivializes your words or accuses you of lying (implicitly or explicitly)?

____Make demands or give directives that are contradictory?

____Intimidates you by using angry expressions or gestures and/or by raising their voice?

____Harass you about things you have done in the past, issues that have been resolved, etc.?

____Use economic coercion as a way of manipulating you or intimidating you to “play the game” (threatening your job – implicitly or explicitly)?

____Sabotage your efforts at work (make up things about you, psychologically batter you so that your production suffers)?

____Uses pressure tactics such as guilt, accusations, threats or the “silent treatment” to manipulate you?

____Call you out for every little thing that they can, fabricating malicious intent on your part where there was none?

____Lie to you, withhold information from you, leave you off of important work related correspondence or leave you out of company communication?

____Refuse to listen to your side of the story when you are reprimanded, but instead berate you and accuse you of things that are not true?

____Make you feel like there “is no way out” and that you have no recourse?

____Isolate you from your co-workers either by forbidding contact or by abusing them when you associate with them (make them victims of abuse because of their association to you)?

____Threatens you verbally or nonverbally in either a direct or indirect manner?

____Try to control your relationships and activities that exist outside of work, such as socializing with co-workers, attending company events, etc.?

____Denies or minimizes being abusive?

Do You…

____Feel scared of how your supervisor or co-worker will act?

____Feel fearful of losing your job despite your good performance on the job?

____Feel isolated from your co-workers or work team?

____Feel guilty because your association with a co-worker will result in their being abused?

____Believe that you can turn things around and make your employer stop abusing you if only you changed something about yourself (be even more productive, be quieter or “invisible,” etc.)?

____Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your employer angry (walk on egg shells)?

____Feel that your employer disrespects you?

____Feel that no matter what you do, you will never do anything right in your employer’s eyes?

____Feel like you are beaten down, broken or depressed because of how your employer is treating you?

____Feel that you do not deserve better treatment or are not worth being treated with respect?

____Feel like no matter what you do, your employer is never happy with you?

____Feel uneasy about talking to your co-workers about anything, even work related topics?

____Feel nervous or afraid of what your employer will do if you call in sick at work, arrive a few minutes late one day, have a problem with your work tools (computer, software) or have to leave for an emergency?

____Feel that you can not trust your co-workers because it has been implied or told to you by your employer that they will tell on you?

____Feel that you have no one to go to for help because any attempts to seek support or help from upper management will be undermined or intercepted by your abuser?

____Worry that your production is compromised because of frequent “meetings” or “counseling” by your supervisor?

____Feel exhausted and stressed out because of the way that your supervisor or co-workers treat you?

____Feel that you are held to rigid and impossible timelines, structures in workflow and deadlines?

____Experience feelings of dread when thinking about your job or when you are at work?

____Feel that you are being set you up for failure?

____Distrust your feelings and perceptions about yourself, your co-workers or your employer?

____Feel inadequate when doing work that you once felt confident in doing?

____Experience minor or major illnesses frequently?

____Feel that you are always being watched for any slip or infraction?

____Worry that you have done something wrong on your job although you can think of nothing?

____Dread going into work where once you looked forward to it?

____Feel that you are being set up to be fired, disciplined or demoted?

____Feel that the stresses you experience at work are affecting your home life?

____Experience frequent headaches, gastrointestinal upset, increase or decrease in appetite or insomnia?

____Always do what your employer wants you to do even if it goes against what you believe in or you feel that it crosses ethical lines?

____Feel that you are walking on egg shells at work?

____Remain with your employer because you feel that you have no recourse?

One instance can qualify as “abusive,” but it does not necessarily fall into the category of mobbing or bullying. These terms are used to describe a pattern of behavior that includes some or all of the characteristics listed here. The problem with this type of abuse, as with other forms of psychological abuse, is that it often can not be verified. This exacerbates the effects of the abusive cycle because the victim often can not get validation for the abuse. Abusive behaviors are usually done subversively, behind closed doors, implicitly and the abuser may even accuse the victim of causing the abuse or of fabricating it.

This is why documentation is so vital in these situations. When many small, seemingly insignificant things are documented, they can create a much more telling, bigger picture.

If any of these are happening in your workplace, get help. It is important to take care of yourself even if you are in a position where action can not be taken legally. Talk to someone. Talk to a counselor, your doctor, a friend, an attorney. Without some help, the abuse will continue. Abusive personalities prey on who they perceive to be weak. They tear down the self esteem of their victims and make them feel as if they have no options, no where else to go. Establish a strong support system for yourself. Without some support, you will continue to take the abuse and believe that you have no recourse. You can be free from abuse in the workplace.

Mobbing and Workplace Abuse: Are You a Victim?

ABSTRACT:

Most attention has been directed to spousal abuse, but workplace abuse is rising in prevalence. As incidences of workplace abuse increase, it is important to learn to recognize the signs. Education is the first step to getting free.

iosphere - businessman stomped by boss

As the nation’s economy continues to decline, more people are losing their jobs and jobs are becoming more and more scarce. Some organizations are capitalizing on the situation by lowering their standards for the treatment of their employees. After all, they are the “only game in town” and it isn’t as if you can just walk out of one job and into another right now. These opportunists are leaving in their wake employees who are overworked, stressed out, psychologically battered and bullied on a regular basis.

The Workplace Abuse Trap

The tragedy of the situation is that these employees basically have to grin and bear it or find themselves in the unemployment line. To struggling families, single parents and other individuals who were not born with a silver spoon in their mouths, it is a matter of choosing the lesser of the evils: suck it up and remain in the abusive situation, or lose their job, go deeper into debt, be unable to feed their families, lose their homes, the list goes on and on. Most choose to remain in the abusive situations for many of the same reasons that so many women choose to remain in abusive relationships:

1. They feel that they are not worth more or do not deserve more

2. They feel that they have no choice

3. They feel that the abuse is somehow their fault

4. They feel a certain sense of security with the job (a workplace form of Stockholm Syndrome)

5. They feel that they do not have the energy, the drive, the strength to get out of the abusive situation

Mobbing

Mobbing is a term that has been coined to describe emotional abuse in the workplace. Also known as psychological terror, bullying, hostile work environment, workplace trauma, incivility, psychological aggression and emotional violence, mobbing can wreak havoc on a person’s productivity at work as well as their personal psychological state. Over time, an employee who has been the victim of mobbing can develop post traumatic stress disorder. In the short term, mobbing can cause employees to seek therapy, anti depression medication and other treatments.

The psychological pressure that comes from this type of abuse can lead to other health issues such as a compromised immune system (more incidences of colds, flu, etc.), migraines, high blood pressure and in extreme cases, even heart attack and stroke. Unfortunately, mobbing creates a destructive circle that will ultimately lead to the employee either taking leave, filing a worker’s compensation claim, quitting or getting fired.

While companies that employ this practice attempt to justify it by saying they are “tightening the reins” or “cracking the whip” to increase productivity or “straighten out” employee behavior, they are ultimately undermining their own efforts. As employees are battered more and more psychologically, their production suffers. This may not be immediately apparent, but over time there will be a decrease in production whether in quantity or quality.

Mobbing is a real problem in the workplace because many employees will try to “buddy up” to their supervisors or those they view as superior in rank in an effort to try to deflect some of the psychological blows and reduce the abuse and trauma. They will tell those in authority whatever they think they want to hear out of fear of losing their jobs, getting demoted or sustaining further, more vicious abuse.

The abusers thrive on this fear and use it to “divide and conquer” workplace teams. In an effort to separate the stronger, more confident employees (the ones who could potentially “cause problems” because they will not roll over and accept the abuse) from the fearful employees who are afraid of losing their jobs supervisors will try a variety of tactics to infuse the entire team with mistrust and suspicion. Imagine what would happen if the stronger employees were not separated from the employees who cow tow to the supervisors? The fearful employees would find support and become empowered!

This is one of the first things that an abuser does to his or her victim. They strive to separate the victim from their support system. They cause rifts in relationships, relocate them (in the workplace that would mean moving them to another location, firing outspoken employees, etc) or forbid them to communicate. Abusive spouses do it to their victims every day. By separating the victim from their support system, the victim is forced to rely solely on the abuser.

Mobbing is also used to describe a situation where co-workers, subordinates or superiors “gang up” on someone in an effort to force them to quit, to force them out of the workplace. This is done through behaviors that can be very blatant or quite subtle. They may do this through rumor, intimidation, humiliation, innuendo, isolation or discrediting. In short, they simply harass the person until they finally quit.

However, at the heart of it all, mobbing is malicious, general harassment that is neither racial nor sexual. It slips under the legal radar and walks some fuzzy ethical lines because it does not fall under the neat label that the law provides for workplace harassment. It is sneaky and underhanded and its perpetrators are cruel, narcissistic control freaks who thrive on their perceived feeling of power. They revel in the spoils that come from the abuse they inflict. As they see their victims cower and become more and more beaten down, they feel more and more powerful and in control.

Mobbing is a serious workplace health and safety issue that should be addressed. It is just coming onto the radar and support organizations are springing up in response. The adverse effects of mobbing and other workplace trauma impact the employee on a personal level. Their physical wellness, emotional wellness, health and safety are all affected as a result. When a person is distracted by the trauma that they are experiencing on a daily basis, they can not pay full attention to the tasks require it. This impacts the organization, but unfortunately, the narcissistic employer can not see that they are the cause of the problem so they simply release the employee and find another victim to terrorize.

Corporate Aggression

A relative to mobbing, corporate aggression is on a larger scale, but just as detrimental. Taken from the website www.worktrauma.org, it is described in this manner:

Corporate Aggression refers to all situations where the majority of employees or any minority group feel subjected to unilateral conscious, calculated or planned negative actions, attitudes, rules and/or policies imposed by the employer to serve the employer’s interests, in a situation where these employees feel that they are collectively unable to defend themselves and/or approach and/or reason with the source of aggression and/or effect any changes. (Steinman, 2002)

When employees are made to feel humiliated, disrespected, undermined through malicious, cruel, vindictive means, they are not in a healthy work environment. What’s more, they will usually feel that due to psychological pressure, intimidation, harassment, threats, manipulation, extortion, coercion, hostile behavior and conspiracies, that they have not recourse and must “play the game.” They may even feel that they have no where to turn so they never voice their discontent or unhappiness. Often, they do just the opposite by telling their employer and supervisor that they are happy and have no problems. This is the intimidation and psychological pressure doing its magic. The employees are so intimidated that they feel they have no voice so they just tell their employer what they want to hear in hopes that the abuse will lessen.

Characteristics of Workplace Trauma

Some characteristics of workplace trauma include (definitions taken from Work Trauma Foundation www.worktrauma.org.):

Abuse
Behavior that humiliates, degrades or otherwise indicates a lack of respect for the dignity and worth of an individual.

Bullying or Mobbing
Repeated and overtime offensive behavior through vindictive, cruel or malicious attempts to humiliate, disrespect or undermine an individual or groups of employees and includes, but is not limited to psychological pressure, harassment, intimidation, threats, conspiracies, manipulation, extortion, coercion and hostile behavior which could impact on the worth, dignity and well-being of the individual or groups.

Harassment
Any conduct based on age, disability, HIV status, domestic circumstances, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, race, color, language, religion, political, trade union or other opinion or belief, national or social origin, association with a minority, property, birth or other status that is unreciprocated or unwanted and which affects the dignity of men and women at work.

Sexual Harassment
Any unwanted, unreciprocated and unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that is offensive to the person involved, and causes that person to be threatened, humiliated, degraded or embarrassed.

Racial Harassment
Any implicit or explicit threatening conduct that is based on race, colour, language, national origin, religion, association with a minority, birth or other status that is unreciprocated or unwanted and which affects the dignity of women and men at work.

Threat
Any implicit or explicit promised use of physical force or power (i.e. psychological force, blackmail or stalking), resulting in fear of physical, sexual, psychological harm or other negative consequences to the targeted individuals or groups.

Structural Violence
The intentional use of power and/or organisational systems and structures or laws against an individual or entity (employer, management, shareholders, employee, group of employees, client, government, unions) to carry out a covert or unethical agenda, enforce change or indulge in unfair practices to the disadvantage of the affected individual or entity.

Includes but not limited to the disrespectful handling of changes in the organization, unrealistic redistribution of workload, intimidation, policies, procedures, regulations, manipulation, coercion to act in a certain way and so on, exercised by an individual or entity.

Psychological Violence
Intentional use of power, including threat of physical force, against another person or group, that can result in harm to family life, livelihood, physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. Includes verbal abuse, bullying/mobbing, harassment, intimidation and threats.

Assault/Attack
Intentional behaviour that harms another person or group physically, including sexual assault (i.e. rape).

Physical Violence
The use of physical force against another person or group that results in physical, sexual or psychological harm.

Includes beating, kicking, slapping, stabbing, shooting, pushing, biting, pinching, strangling, among others.

For clarification purposes, definitions were included that extend beyond those that describe mobbing and workplace trauma. However, all forms of workplace abuse, whether clearly defined by law or simply unethical and waking shady legal lines, are still abuse and still leave destruction and chaos in their wake.

Torture, the Core of Mobbing

Interestingly, Amnesty International has listed several criteria that are inherent of the word torture. It is strongly recommended that these criteria be incorporated in any definition that comprehensively describes torture. The process of torture ensures the torturer that their victim will have limited or no choices and will remain trapped in a certain situation that causes stress which is manipulated to induce thwarted attempts by the victim to sustain consistent, learned personal behaviour patterns by which their own self image is valued. In short, their self worth, self identity and valuation as a person are all withheld and destroyed. The criteria defining torture include:

1. At least two people are involved

2. There is acute pain and suffering inflicted

3. It breaks the victim’s will or is an attempt to break the victim’s will

4. It follows a process that is systematic

5. To the torturer, its purpose is rational and reasonable

Mobbing, psychological violence and other types of abuse and harassment in the workplace are, unfortunately, a reality. What’s more, the incidence of this type of abuse is growing. While there are virtually no laws designed to handle this type of debilitating workplace abuse, there are organizations that are cropping up and are attempting to address the problem. If you feel that you are a victim of workplace abuse or mobbing, visit the links listed here. These sites have great information and a wealth of resources. Educating yourself, learning to identify abuse, and building your support system are the first steps to getting free from abuse.