Workplace Bullying: Mobbing

As with many things in life, they either tend to diversify or evolve. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst as is the case with bullying.

We are aware of the different forms of bullying such as physical, verbal and emotional. Group bullying is nothing new, though now it also has a label known as ‘Mobbing’, a form of workplace bullying that seems to be on the rise. This form of bullying is administered through hostile and underhanded tactics with the mobs aim to push the intended target out of their position, ideal of their own accord.

Rather than speaking directly with the targeted individual the mob will resort to alienating the chosen person, taking the opportunity to humiliate, embarrass and to generally make their working life extremely difficult and unbearable until that person makes the decision to leave. Initially the targeted person may not even realise there is a problem and that they are the victim of a mobbing campaign until it is too late.

Within the group there is someone who has the position of control whom the others will follow in their regime. As others begin to see the mobs behaviour towards their target they too begin to buy into the mob mentality and view this person as a ‘problem’, a ‘threat’ thus joining the mob in their psychological abuse of their work colleague. This type of behaviour can be seen with those who were once considered to be friends of the targeted worker may switch allegiance and join the mob.

Studies have shown that if one group is told they are superior to another their behaviour towards those in inferior groups becomes more hostile and negative. It is because of the increasing negative behaviour and abuse that both experiments had to be stopped early.

During her time as co-host of NBC’s ‘Today’ morning talk show, producers blames Anny Curry for the lack of chemistry with her male co-host and the shows falling ratings. So began the creation of the mob that systematically set about making Curry’s remaining time on the talk show very difficult with hostile and hurtful acts. Others saw those in a senior position of power ridiculing the TV show host so took this to believe it was also ok for them to treat Curry in the same manner. This resulted in others joining the mob and taking part of not only ruining Curry’s career but also her self-esteem and confidence.

Mobbing can also commonly occur where the target suffers from a form of mental illness. In this example the individual suffered from depression and anxiety as they are considered ‘invisible’ disabilities, many don’t believe the changes in behaviour are related to a health issue.

Stages of Mobbing 

Stages of mobbing were highlighted in the article ‘Mobbing just what is psychological terror in the workplace’. I’ve summarised each stage.

Stage One: The Aimed Conflict

The intended victim is picked out.

Stage Two: The Mobbing Starts

Interaction, communication with the victim is reduced. The victim is made the scapegoat in certain scenarios, complaints are made about them. Creating a toxic atmosphere.

Stage Three: First Pyscho-somatic Symptoms

The victim begins to suffer from the effects of the mobbing. Lack of sleep, start of depression, they question themselves as to what they have done.

Stage Four: Errors and Abusses in Staff Administration

The mobbing goes public. The victim’s symptoms increase causing them to take sick leave. On returning colleagues will pick up on their absence, tease them about it, resent them from being away from the office so others have to take on their work load. As a result of the victims symptoms increased absences, mistakes made at work are noted resulting in some cases with disciplinary action.

Stage Five: Serious Worsening of Victims Psyco-physical

The victim falls further into a state of depression. The action and treatment of them leads them to self blame, believing they are the ones at fault.

Stage Six: Exclusion from the world of work

The victim leaves the work place

As with any form of bullying, mobbing can both psychologically, emotionally and physically damage a person. In some cases it may take a lengthy period of time to come to terms with and overcome the effects of a mobbing campaign.

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13 thoughts on “Workplace Bullying: Mobbing

  1. Jeeze, I’ve never experienced something like this. Are there particular types of companies where this type of bullying occurs? Is there usually a queen/king bee? Sounds a lot like what teenagers go through.


    • Hello Things Career Related!

      As I commented earlier, I’ve been the target of bullying, both the “regular” kind and mobbing, so I can answer your question in part.

      In my experience, bullying in any form can occur in any type of company in any industry. However, bullying THRIVES in dysfunctional organizations that don’t manage conflict (although the organization has loads of it), aren’t self-reflective, have low levels of emotional intelligence, and low levels of respect for people. And yes, the leaders are usually bullies themselves, either directly or vicariously (i.e., the leader doesn’t have the wherewithal to treat someone poorly himself, but he gives his managers power to do so.) Also, most managers and HR professionals (and I’m an HR professional) aren’t trained to recognize or appreciate bullying and will instead view any type of negative interpersonal interaction as nothing more than a “personality conflict” instead of the malevolent power play it is. In my personal situation, the mobbing was sanctioned by both a Queen Bee AND other leaders.


  2. I’m not sure if this is specific to particular types of companies but you’re right this is very similar to the bullying young people go through. Some people just don’t grow up.


  3. I’ve never experienced anything like this, but in the healthcare profession that I am in, I often need to handle conflicts, disagreements and at times negativity against work colleagues and staff. I have come across some campaigns which you address here, and its not easy in resolving them without someone getting upset or warned.

    I’ve also noticed how facebook and similar social media platforms can bring problems into a career and work-place. That’s when matters get extremely worse.


    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

      Work conflicts naturally occur in the workplace, it’s when someone is persistently targeted for no reason.

      I agree social media can and does makes the situation much worse.


  4. I have experienced this. It was horrifying! I stopped sleeping and became very paranoid. I usually weigh 115 pounds, but I got down to 92 pounds because I could not eat. No one made it a secret. Except for the owner of the company that broke into my home and took pictures. He even laid in our bed because he said he needed to know how I slept. This in return provoked jealous employees to form a mob. Thank you for sharing this article! It helps to be reminded that it was them and not me.


    • That is completely horrifying!
      Side from the fact what the owner did was creepy and illegal, but other employees were jealous to form a mob!
      I hope you are longer working in such a disturbed and toxic environment, and that your health has recovered.


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