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to think that she should have appealed?

(19 Posts)
saccrofolium Sun 02-Dec-12 08:10:25

My lovely and very talented friend has a new boss. Despite her having a great and successful career, he doesn't really get what she does and as a consequence, has decided she's crap and lazy. He arranged for a capability interview and in the letter said she may get a formal warning.
His points of concern were vague and woolly and she answered them well. Then she got a letter saying she was getting a formal warning and that there were also concerns about aspects of her work that had never even been mentioned. And said he proposed 3 hours of one to one training a week, before the office opens.
Then he spoke to her and said if she dared appeal he wouldn't do the training.angry And that she had better improve - but no SMART objectives or monitoring, and no timescale.
The training started literally the day after the formal warming letter, and by day 2 he strolled in and said " what would you like to know today?"hmm
She had 7 days to appeal the formal warning and I begged her to do it but she wouldn't as she said. "But he'll make my life hell." Like it isn't already.
The company is a small but successful creative agency, and they don't have a HR department. She's spoken to her husband's friend, who is in a union and he said FFS appeal, but she won't. She was bullied at school and it's pressing all the same buttons with her.
My background is very large corporate-aggressive so culturally it's very different. She seems to think that if she goes along with him then it'll all work out ok. Is there anything anyone can say or do to advise?

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 08:24:41

She has two choices and after your description I think we know which will happen.

1. She has to confront or report this bullying. Perhaps by going direct to company ceo, and saying she feels this is the situation and that if she is forced to leave she will not go quietly, sex discrimination tribunal, constructive dismissial tribunal, etc. High risk but if she has a portfolio of previouse work which everyone including ceo was happy with that will help. Also copies of the letters she has got, plus a written account of the training and what her boss said to her. Lot of hard work, and yes she has to do the work no one else will. But in the end she has to want to stand up for herself.

2. Go now things will not be better, this new guy is a bully and he has a new plaything to worry and destroy. Do it any way she likes get a new job, walk out, get signed of sick, but go before long term damage is done to her mental and physicle well being.

Mosman Sun 02-Dec-12 08:25:44

It won't be ok, she needs to start job hunting, go through the process and take them to a tribunal.

PerryCombover Sun 02-Dec-12 08:36:38

My advice on this is personal and should be taken as such
As you know, she must must must speak to the union
She must let someone write every word and date of this down whilst it's all fresh and accurate
She must take copies of all positive appraisals ( negative too) work recommendations. Email well dones.

It might be that she simply feels utterly unable to. I did. Everyone telling me I must made it worse. I just felt feeble.

If she feels unable to raise a grievance.

Try to persuade her to do this..try saying for clarity and helping her gently..

Help her write a letter or email detailing her great work and her confusion at what is currently happening. Say she doesn't understand the problems he has with her work and she would appreciate some examples of where her work has been substandard.
Ask him to explain the process of decision making before a capability interview is given. What aspects of her work were considered in that decision making process.
Explain that she was unaware of what the purpose was of the capability interview. Ask what points it was examining?
Ask what company standards she failed to meet?
Ask what answers she gave which resulted in a formal warning?

It might be that she cannot start the fight to keep her job. Please support her in that decision if she makes it. If she feels she has your support then it actually can be enough to give her the strength to raise a grievance.

If she was bullied previously she would have probably felt powerless. Your support will help buoy her up. Sometimes seeing a therapist for a few sessions helps. It did for me.

saccrofolium Sun 02-Dec-12 08:47:15

Leithlurker I agree totally and have said as much. She's networking like mad and has the ear of some of the most powerful in her industry, one of whom has said HE will do any creative objectives that the new boss sets! But that's the trouble - he isn't setting any so powerful friend can't rescue her. She's looking for other positions but she's quite senior in a niche industry so it's not a quick process.
I want to support her but am frustrated at her rabbit-in-headlights approach when actually she has a lot of power if only she would use it.

Softlysoftly Sun 02-Dec-12 08:49:08

Same as poster above personal experience but id tell her that this is step 1. Her rolling over will encourage this behaviour not improve it, he will have no respect if not faced down.

He will either continue to bully her or force her out of a job and shell not have a leg to stand on as she accepted her warnings.

We got a new director at work who pushed out, bullied and paid off every female member of the team with kids and replaced them with his comfort blanket of staff from his old company who were willing to cover up the fact he was totally shit and ineffective at his job. I was pregnant and basically a bump shaped gap to be filled, he never even looked at my work. I wasn't able to go back once DD1 was born very upsetting and added to my PND before I took the bastard to the cleaners.

Shortly after, the board realised how awful he was and his lack of results and put him out to pasture, but not before he'd destroyed 5 people.

Tell her she needs to stand up or get out with as much payoff as she can, nothing else will work.

saccrofolium Sun 02-Dec-12 08:49:57

Perrycombover, that's a really interesting post - I don't want to alienate her by her thinking that if she doesn't take my advice I won't be supportive. That's so not the case. I'll talk to her about writing it all out again - for her own sanity if nothing else! She's missed the date for an appeal and won't entertain the idea of a grievance, nor of speaking to the CEO whom she knows well, as it's "unprofessional".

RubyGates Sun 02-Dec-12 08:58:39

This isn't going to go well, whatever she does.
A similar thing is happening to my OH who was hired by one member of a company specifically for skills and talents that are absolutely unique in the trade. OH is not a team player, and cannot keep regular office hours (for medical reasons) , but is absolutely the only person with these skills at this time. The original hirer has gone on extended leave (back on Monday thank God) and another member of the company has spent the entire period of leave trying to force OH out for non-conformance. He just doesn't understand what OH does, not why the original hire was made.

Even when the hirer returns on Monday and makes the situation clear, it's going to be very, very awkard for OH now, knowing exactly what the other chap thinks.

I hope your friend finds somewhere she is a good fit soon. And she probably feels she needs to not rock the boat while she's making this transition. Thus avoiding at least some unpleasantness.

Softlysoftly Sun 02-Dec-12 08:59:23

Interestingly mine was marketing as well, his name doesn't begin with H does it, perhaps she's inherited our wanker!

I'd tell her while she should be able to be judged just on the quality of her work in a professional manner sadly that's not the case with this type of person, she can work herself into the ground and it will make no difference. She needs to utilise other skills about managing her relationships.

If done in the correct way it will not look like "whining to teacher" going to the CEO which is what she feels, right back at the school gates.

In fact if she runs round the industry whining about him, she's kidding herself it won't get back to the company and it does make her look like a complaining kid not able to deal with things.

If she couches it in the correct language in a letter/preprepared meeting with CEO she can look calm and professional. Think I find myself in x situation, while I respect y is new to the company he has no understanding of the value I have added by abc projects. I wanted to highlight this to you as I feel his approach is affecting performance and therefore could cost us optimum work on x account. I feel mediation or possibly more induction training may be necessary for y to fully understand the company and accounts"

Rubbish example as I don't know the specifics but you understand the point?

saccrofolium Sun 02-Dec-12 09:25:25

This isn't marketing but v similar way of operating wink!
And you are all right, it isn't going to go well.
I think what I'm asking is, what ways can I support her to find the strength to fight this? Perry you've been in this position - why did you feel feeble?
I too was bullied and then sacked, and I sued and won. My only regret is that I didn't do it more publicly, but I was only 25 at the time. I've been through this and seen it happen around me and the only way is to fight, but how can I help her do this?

saccrofolium Sun 02-Dec-12 09:28:31

To add, I think she's really hoping that someone from another agency will rescue her and she can move and put this behind her. It's a v v cliquey industry and her boss has a reputation for being a twat so I doubt she would have to whine about him.
She has some incredibly powerful contacts but again refuses to pull in favours for fear of being unprofessional. Gah!

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 09:58:57

so how do you support her, well I would say this:

Being a friend, a real true friend is not about being lovely and supportive, and fluffy. It is about having the confidence and the trust to ask hard questions, ones that require her to THINK. I am lucky I have a few friends like this and we do the same for each other. We offer critical analysis as well as support and all the fluffy stuff.

So coffee or wine and ask if she trusts you, if yes move on to ask her what she wants for herself. If she says she is unsure or does not trust you, stop right there and choose something else to talk about.

Corygal Sun 02-Dec-12 10:11:34

Second Perry's words of wisdom. You've got 2 problems; old job and getting new job. She may be screwed in old job, so I would just look for another one.

Sounds to me like friend's confidence is shot so she's being timid about using the contacts, unreasonably so.

Get her to use the contacts asap.

saccrofolium Sun 02-Dec-12 10:24:10

Noted, Leithlurker and corygirl. I've been v clear about what I think, and have asked her to name what she's actually afraid of, and somehow she can't. I'm trying to persuade her to go for coffee with the really big bigwigs she knows because then it will all come tumbling out. A couple are v paternal and I've no doubt would give her a steer and keep an eye out for her or make a couple of phonecalls and get her boss sacked but she would never go along with the express intention of leveraging relationships as she thinks it's unprofessional.

I've just talked to my mum about all this, and she said that in her view, people have a lesson to learn in life and until the lesson is learned then it keeps being repeated and maybe hers is that she has to stand up for herself against bullying. sad

Leithlurker Sun 02-Dec-12 11:18:29

Your mum is on to something, although I have reservations about asking someone to change both their mind set and the way that they tackle issues all by themselves. Being the good supportive friend that you are I am sure you would very much assure your friend that you will be with her every step of the way. Offering encouragement and support but reserving the right to ask tough questions.

I support what others have said about making phone calls etc, I would though be bound to say that this is something she will probably need to deal with once and for all.

HoleyGhost Sun 02-Dec-12 13:23:52

What your friend needs is assertiveness training.

saccrofolium Mon 03-Dec-12 11:46:30

Holeyghost you're right. She thinks that because she's bubbly and socially confident she doesn't need it but she does.

She's going to speak informally to Smithers manager about how she's being treated. I don't understand why she's doing it informally but she seems too scared to make an appeal or grievance as it would have to be acted upon. I do wonder whether subconsciously, she thinks that if she keeps things informal and she isn't listened to, then it can be "all their fault" rather than her inappropriate reaction - does that make sense?

saccrofolium Thu 06-Dec-12 22:26:23

So she didn't appeal. And won't start a grievance. And talks a lot about how unfair it all is but that she has no choice as he WOUKD make life unbearable, even though she can't define in what way. I feel sad for her and have pushed hard. She admits that everyone she has spoken to, without any exception has said she must appeal as it damages her reputation, but she won't.
So that's that. I'll be there when this explodes, as it undoubtedly will, and my mum's theory about people having a lesson to learn, is ringing in my ears. For some reason this is the choice she has to make, along with the consequences. sad

HoleyGhost Thu 06-Dec-12 23:19:04

Your Mum has wisdom. It is a shame, but your friend has made her choice :-(

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