To need advice on how to deal with this bullying woman(17 Posts)
I am mentoring a trainee at work and it has been challenging to say the least. To be brief, she is neither talented nor hardworking. I have raised points in what I believe to be a professional and supportive way, but she has not reacted well and, as well as not acting on advice, has cooled to me in her manner - to the point of rudeness. I have mentored for the past 10 years, and have had good and bad trainees, but never had anyone behave in the way she has.
As an added complication, I am also running the department this year as our line manager is off longterm. I am officially stepping up to her role, but for no extra pay. This week I confronted the trainee about her manner towards me and she told me she had complained about me to a senior manager and that we had no relationship, I had not supported her etc. Now I have a paper trail of all the meetings we have had, targets I have set etc, so I'm not worried about that as such, but obviously am annoyed that she has run me down to a senior manager - who had not raised the matter with me.
A further complication is that this woman has been in our organisation for years in junior admin roles, and has waited years to get on the training course to joint the actual profession we are in, so she has lots of 'friends' in the place - including people in senior roles. I believe she is bad-mouthing me all over the place to these people.
I saw the senior manager she named this week and he basically told me he fully believed my version of events, not to worry about her, and that he was trying to get her a job in another company in a similar line of work where he has contacts. He told me to focus on my role and not to worry about her as she's not important .
I believe that he does believe me, but doesn't want to upset her for whatever reason, and I'm sort of stuck in the middle. I just don't know how to 'be' with her from now on. I am furious that she is tarnishing my reputation and in a way want to confront her on this, but feel it would make things worse. How do I go forward from here?
In the interim could she be passed on to another colleague who could mentor her. Your work load will have increased hugely because of stepping up. Remember you are doing the company a massive favour for stepping up unpaid so are banking oodles of goodwill. They can dispense with her but not you so remember that. I would continue to be very professional and possibly any convos that you have with her make sure there is another trusted colleague in earshot or with you. Is there someone else who could train up to be a mentor? That way they could take over but you would sit in as an advisor and mentor of them?
That sounds awful, but I'd be relieved at what your manager has said. She sounds like a massive pain in the arse and she has probably rubbed other people up the wrong way as well.
I would just be polite and professional (the exact opposite of how she is behaving) and wait until she leaves. Your senior manager clearly has your back and you have a good track record at your company (also just been promoted) I highly doubt that people who know you will believe that you have not been doing a good job with her. Incredibly frustrating but people will also draw their own conclusions when she leaves for another company and you can always subtley express relief that she has gone!
I've had a similar situation, unfortunately.
She has worked there for some time which does mean that she has contacts. But it also means something else. That they will know what she is like and see right through her lies. She can badmouth you but that doesn't mean that the listener believes her.
You're doing the right thing. Keep professional. Keep notes. Be ready to defend your corner. Keep her at arm's length. Only speak to her about necessary work stuff. Nothing else. No "How was your weekend?" kind of chats. Just work.
Bide your time. Chances are she is behaving in this way because she knows that she is way out of her depth.
Your other course of action is to have her moved to another mentor due to the breakdown of the mentor/mentee relationship.
You need to go back to Snr manager and tell him that in light of her complain, and his comments he needs to remove her from your mentorship asap. As this could escalate and it is better for both of you to nip it in the bud now.
Thanks for these supportive responses . I meant to add to my op that she can't be moved to another mentor as we are a tiny department and everyone either knows what she is like, and are working harder than usual due to us being a person down, so I couldn't ask any of them to take this 'problem' on too. Or, there are aa couple of other people who she is close too, and I don't want her being mentored by either of them as they would probably sit in a corner bitching about me and there would be a negative impact on our service users.
What ChuckSnowballs said
Might be worth putting it in writing, just detailing what bullying woman has said, that you disagree with her accusation, but because she has made it, it seems prudent to move her mentorship & line management to someone else, to prevent further issues arising.
You definitely have a relationship breakdown - however proofreading your are - you have said she isn't talented nor hardworking - you have made that clear to her and she knows you have no faith in her abilities or trust her to do the work -
What do there think?
Are you so absorbed in your new work load that you are treating your staff as lackies?
There are always two sides and as a communication issue is two way - you have to take some responsibility especially as you are above her
Who manages her? You need to speak to them and they need to take it up with her and put her on a performance management plan if she is that useless. Manage her up or manage her out. If the team is that small, the snr management should have told her that is she doesn't like it she can always just leave.
Is her attitude the reason why it's taken her 10 years of junior roles to be allowed access to the training she's on?
I agree with the putting it in writing.
I'd also carry on reminding the woman of her unacceptable manner and suggest that you'll request a joint meeting WITH the senior manager to escalate the matter if that's the way she's going to respond to being asked for a little professional courtesy.
she can't be moved to another mentor as we are a tiny department and everyone either knows what she is like
Well, that speaks volumes!! Does everyone have a problem with this woman?
Also, in your written docs, do you have notes on when she has failed to achieve what has been set out? I would make those very clear. Does she have a probationary period in this trainee-ship? Given that you say that she is neither talented nor hard working, surely she will be given the heave-ho at the end of the 3 months or whatever?
Put it to her and your manager that as she is so unhappy with your mentoring, it won't be productive to continue with it so it would be better for both of you to end the relationship. That would free you both up to work on identified areas you need to develop.
If she is neither talented or hard-working why on earth has she been kept on for so long? Stay professional in your approach as others have advised in this post. Eventually she should find pastures new and become someone else's problem. Keep your chin up - remember she is the problem, not you.
I have been in a very similar position to this, although was new to the organisation, dealing with a staff team that had been formed from a major re-shuffle.
One person in particular was very similar to the person you are mentoring, known and loved throughout the organisation. She had, apparently, made the decision to dislike me before I even started. Made my life hell and had such strong support that it nearly broke me.
I think you have to continue being professional, and ensure you are constantly working within policy and procedure, and document absolutely everything. Including everything you hear or see, officially or unofficially, no matter how tiny or inconsequential it may seem at the time. I had so much stuff twisted around and thrown back at me, it was shocking. The person left of her own accord, but the damage was done to my reputation, and even her decision to leave was seen as me hounding her out. I stayed for the next couple of years for the sake of my cv, but left as soon as I felt it was appropriate.
You are in a stronger position than I was, as you are already known and clearly valued within the company concerned. Do be very careful though. Good luck!
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