Agony Aunt, Andrea Moon: My boss is bullying me - where do I stand?

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Q:I have been working in what was initially my dream job for nearly five years.

It was a trendy, young firm with new ideas and family feel. The salary was great and the social life was excellent.

Two years ago, a new manager was employed to tighten up the department and expand. She had a fierce reputation but an impressive success rate.

My team worked well with the new manager and it all seemed to be ‘Tiger Lady’ in name only. She was positive, supportive and seemed to care about her team. Then she started picking on one of my colleagues, trying to make her work with a more corporate approach. She had been getting the required results but admittedly had an off the wall relationship with clients. She had been at the company for ten years but the new manager belittled and demoralised her so much she left. Now the manager has started picking at my work although I achieved above my forecast profit. She is stirring things between myself and my team, making things up. I have been on disciplinary for 18 months, every meeting she changes the alleged problem, really petty things. Human Resources attend the meetings but they are playing safe. She has told me she could slap me, then hugs me and tells me she loves me really. I am getting very demoralised but still produce results. Where do I stand?

A: What a charmer. This type of manager gives women in business a bad name. This is a very old fashioned type of management, divide and conquer. She is a textbook serial bully. Eighteen months is a ridiculous length of time to be on disciplinary. It suggests she has no real evidence of misconduct or failings. You cannot tackle this alone as other colleagues are scared it’ll be them next, and she is no doubt very charming on the surface. You need to document everything - including notes of phone calls - and keep hard copies of all email and correspondence, be prepared with dates of past disciplinary meetings, goals issued, and more importantly a hard copy of your achievements. You need to tell your HR department your manager is not acting professionally. Most companies acknowledge valuing their staff and showing their appreciation boosts morale and brings better results. Ensure your team is aware of what your achievements have been and that you have not been backstabbing. Try not to take it personally, this woman has a long history of bullying, which any sane company will know results in expensive lawsuits. Good luck, and grit your teeth.