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AIBU to be pissed off in work?

(11 Posts)
JustineBeaver Tue 22-Mar-16 20:55:06

OK this is my first ever post. I've been lurking for a while to get a feel for what folk post about and what kind of reactions to expect.
I'm prepared to be flamed and/or told to grow up/grow a backbone, but it's not quite as easy as that, so please be gentle!! And apologies for the very long winded post!

I work in the public sector (11years) in a small team with 3 other colleagues all of the same level.
I enjoy my job as it's quite interesting and varied but I cannot stand the dynamics within the team, between our female boss and another female team member.
They hero worship each other, for want of a better description.

This is not about me or the other 2 team members being jealous that she is the favourite - they are both older women and are entitled to be friends, but the lines seem to be very much blurred in terms of manager/junior staff relationship - and the rest of us are similar ages and good friends, but are fed up being treated like dirt.

To give a bit more background as to why it's so perplexing for us that they're so close....favourite team member is an abrasive and aggressive woman with a smart, cheeky loud mouth, and who on several occasions, has had to formally apologise to other staff in the department for the way she has spoken to them. She shouts across the dept, interrupts and talks over folk when they are speaking, cracks racist jokes and swears like a sailor.
If anyone stands up to her to challenge behaviour, female boss turns a blind eye and/or claims she saw and heard nothing.
A recent occurrence was when a senior manager asked favourite to do something for him and she snapped his head off and spoke to him like a piece of shit, telling him she was far too busy.
Female boss was sitting right beside her but got up and walked away, leaving us and senior manager gobsmacked.
SM then emails female boss threatening to take things further as wasn't prepared to take that shit, and she leaps into action and sits with favourite to dictate a written apology, all the while maintaining that she heard nothing and didn't think an apology was necessary!

Going back a year or so, the morale within the team was at an all time low due their behaviour and while we were stuck in a very small office where you could cut the tension with a knife. Myself and other 2 got to the point where we couldnt be arsed speaking to favourite unless it was work related and necessary, as things were being twisted and shit was being stirred by her, when lo and behold we all individually get pulled up by female boss and accused of bullying favourite by excluding her!!

We've since moved locations and are now in a massive open plan dept, so there is no atmosphere now thankfully, but female boss decided the seating plan and sat the 2 of them side by side, and all they do is whisper to each other, give each other knowing looks and make reference to things that only they know about, that the rest of the team are excluded from.
Favourite seems to be of the opinion that she is somehow now deputy manager and speaks to us like we're idiots and if any of us dare to speak back to her, she looks at female boss for backup. Just waiting for the bullying card to be played again, when it's become blatantly obvious that the 'bullied' has very much become the bully...or one of them at least!

Starting to hate going to work which is really sad as I hoped it would be a job for life.

DP who also works in same dept and knows this pair, tells me to tell them to fuck off/threaten HR/grievance proceedings, but it's not easy when it's your boss you're challenging as she could make life (even more) unbearable...and also has pals within HR, so how seriously would they take it...just don't know how to deal with it all, as feel my card would be marked if I took it further.


Lanark2 Tue 22-Mar-16 21:16:48

Classic bully-sidekick and bully by proxy. A fucking nightmare.

In a place I worked bullyhad told sidekick over time that each other person had told her (the bully) in confidence that they hated her (the sidekick) until there was no one left and the sidekick thought everyone except the bully she was at war with everyone as a result. The sidekick had a mini crisis outside work which I helped with, and she suddenly realised what had been happening and went a little mental, but found out that everyone liked her before she was told by bully that they didn't. The sidekick could be suffering the most. In this dynamic the quietest is most often the real bully.

I've also been an a "spooky relationship' place where the bully/sidekick were male-female partnership. In that case we treated them like a block, exposed their game and one it was exposed, they left. They were keeping all the easiest work for themselves and asking for a bonus for doing it and backing up eack others,arguments. Make allies with the rest of the team and imagine the nasty pair in a dark bubble scratching each others faces off and minimise their interactions with you. HR migh know, but watch for performance fuck ups and play a watching brief with awareness maybe?

Ormally Tue 22-Mar-16 21:19:44

Well, HR will have to take a formal grievance seriously if you all 3 feel that way and want to follow the procedure, whether they are matey or not.

As someone who has now had to work in a department under the shadow of such a grievance, however, I can tell you it made it much worse than the previous circumstances. Everyone was dragged into it and there was a lot of overt or underlying side-taking. The complaint was not of my instigation but I was interviewed (reluctantly) and could have been called for evidence to any further 'hearings'. Things got VERY stretched for everyone and it was difficult to perform efficiently, because of certain staff members going sick or working under agreement not to (eg) be in on the same days as other people while the process was underway. I got the impression it was definitely going to come down to an 'X said, Y said' scenario with no clear benefits due to the 'charges' resting on personality and style, and also that those who were younger would probably come out less badly. If you think you really stand to improve matters this way, then this is one option, but an extreme one. If not, what's your appraisal system like? Be careful, assertive, steely, and ridiculously well prepared to give your views. Speak to HR beforehand and ask for an HR staff member to accompany you to appraisal, if necessary, and maybe initiate things in this way.

tempname12 Tue 22-Mar-16 21:24:06

I've worked in an environment like that. Also a public sector role. Female boss was seen as a sort of Goddess by female colleagues and still is, even now that she doesn't work with us (on a secondment). I'm always terrified that she will come back although she hasn't yet (7 months). The biggest change was getting rid of her, she was a bully to those she didnt like (me, 2 or 3 others) and colleagues couldn't see it as they had their heads so far up her arse.

I would keep a careful record and get HR involved I think, it never got better with us until the boss was gone!

Ormally Tue 22-Mar-16 21:48:19

NB - the racist jokes and swearing are pretty indefensible though IMO, if they are regular occurrences. 'Inappropriate language' - forceful but not straight out sweary - was one prong of the charges in the complaint I wrote about earlier, and should be something HR will not ignore.

JustineBeaver Tue 22-Mar-16 22:11:20

Thanks for the replies!!

Good to know that I'm not overthinking this whole scenario.

Ormally our personal development review (PDR) is carried out by female boss so it's a lose lose situation highlighting her failings, especially if someone else present, when she is in charge of our development/training etc
I just can't understand the turning a blind eye to all the inappropriate behaviour...female boss is pretty straight laced and doesn't swear, so it boggles my brain as to why she finds favourite so wonderful!!

temp you have nailed it! The other females of similar rank to female boss/age of favourite think the sun shines out their arses and only the lowly plebs/younger folk like myself can see what they're all about...they don't even have anything in common, well other than being a bitch...but just don't get why they have to act like this. Sadly I don't think female boss is going anywhere any time soon as she's won a watch with her role and I can only hope that favourite decides to take early retirement. Doubt we'll be that lucky tho!

Ormally Tue 22-Mar-16 22:33:16

I'd be surprised if the buck stopped with her for PDRs; if there is paperwork and a record, then it should go to staff files with HR and not/ not just to her - exactly for reasons like this where it would discourage any critical input relating to her because it cannot be impartial - it may appear that it works that way, but it probably doesn't. Take a look at the ACAS site as a first port of call. They have advice lines too.

Chocolate1985 Wed 23-Mar-16 18:07:37

Do you work in my department OP we are experiencing something so similar in my work interested to see responses .

GreenishMe Wed 23-Mar-16 18:39:09

imagine the nasty pair in a dark bubble scratching each others faces off


OliviaBenson Wed 23-Mar-16 18:45:44

Could you have a quiet word with the other senior manager who she was rude to in the past? Might be an in?

nicenewdusters Wed 23-Mar-16 19:01:50

If you have a trade union representative could you speak to them ?

I witnessed some shocking bullying in my public sector job. HR and senior management all knew but nobody wanted to rock the boat. A new entrant, very young, took her grievances to the TU rep, and the ball started rolling. Bully was eventually sidelined and banned from having staff. It was disgraceful that it took somebody with much less to lose to see the old witch booted out. Still makes me seethe years later, so you totally have my sympathies JB.

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