Bullying and Mobbing... A Different Approach
I work for a municipality as an industrial mechanic. My workgroup consists of eleven people, typically working in pairs in the field and our group is removed from the main body of our employer. As such, we are little supervised and tend to dictate our own work and dealings. I have been employed in this job for 18 years and have seen many employee changes. This group used to function well and was self directed, but recent employee changes have developed and a caustic work environment now exists for me. Many of my co-workers are previous co-workers elsewhere, and some are childhood friends.
I used to be friends with one of the group bullies. I questioned his behavior against others in the past, and this lead to the deterioration of that friendship. He is friends with many of the group's current members and others have taken up his cause against me. I was able to confide in a couple my co-workers who seemed to see what was going on and against this behavior. I consulted my union on these issues and they didn't believe it is their place to deal with member against member issues. In fact, some union members turned against me too, as they are friends with some of the people in my group. Our group's conflicts escalated and about a year ago, management and HR got involved. Some of the behavior against me was dealt with and a counselor was contracted to investigate our group's issues. From my research on such things, I have received more aid from management and HR than most people get, but the situation is still largely un-dealt with. I believe the actions taken to address the issues are largely management and HR protecting themselves, rather than dealing with the cause. The co-workers I have confided in won't speak up and have turned against me, to some degree.
I have read a book by Anton Hout and researched many articles on this kind of workplace conflict, but there seems to be little success against these things. Much of what I have read suggests a different job, but I have too much to give up in doing that. There seems to be a lot of "being the bigger person", "not stooping to their level", and "not being so sensitive", but these things will leave you a demoralized victim. Much suggests not to retaliate, but I wonder. If current experts on dealing with these situations have such a low success rate, then maybe a different approach is warranted? Unless your bullies are overly blatant, they will not likely be dealt with... maybe not even then. I wonder if fighting fire with fire might work, as long as it is done with great caution. It might not help, but maybe it will have better success than what current experts suggest? This behavior against you will change you for the negative, whether you do anything or not. Getting others to speak up is probably one of the few things that might help, but I wouldn't count on it. Many of you are likely on your own. My situation isn't concluded yet, but I am tired of nothing further being done and am concerned about my well-being if things continue. If the "right" opportunity presents itself, it will be difficult for me to be the "better" person and not take advantage of a situation that might remove one of my bullies.
Just some thoughts for those of you in a similar situation. Don't do what has proven to have a low success rate... do something different. Even if it doesn't work, is it any worse than something else that also doesn't work?
Note from Anton Hout: Hi Dean, Glad to hear you’ve read the ebook. While it does talk about protecting your health, suggests options like creating an exit strategy and leaving (for those who can) there are also several chapters about “fighting fire with fire.” Look for the chapters in the “Leverage” sections in What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know.