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Am I being bullied by a member of my staff?

(9 Posts)
futterbingers Thu 27-Sep-12 00:29:47

I work in a fairly large organisation but in a small section; I'm a supervisor with one member of staff under me, our section is very busy.
But, my co-worker has a really, truly, horrible personality, and its getting to me lately. She's 42 but behaves like a sulky 6-year old. She makes a lot of mistakes and I always have to check her work. If I say nothing she thinks she's doing the job ok, so lately I've been (in a non- confrontational way) pointing out her mistakes. But this riles her and she huffs and puffs and makes pointed remarks about how busy she is and how hard she works and how she only gets paid a pittance. She makes a point of peering over my shoulder and questioning whatever I'm doing on screen, why am I doing it, who told me to, etc., but gets very defensive if I ask her the same.
I now feel that I was too nice and too keen not to upset her when I started in the post, and as a result she feels that she can walk all over me.
There was an incident a few months ago when she expressed herself very forcefully to me - told me what to say to my boss (nothing to do with my co-worker at all) in front of colleagues.
I told her the next day that while I knew she hadn't meant to bully me, that I had felt bullied, and that I couldn't put up with that. She was apologetic and was much easier to work with for a few weeks. Now however she prefaces every remark to me with "now I'm not bullying you or anything..." .
I have discussed this informally with my boss and asked for a transfer. I think I may have to speak to my boss again, but I really don't want to go down the route of making a formal complaint; I feel that I should be able to handle this myself.
Last week my boss questioned my co-worker over some silly mistakes she had made; this woman started sobbing after the boss had left and it took me and 3 other people the whole morning to calm her down, and she didn't do any meaningful work all day. She felt she was bullied but I felt she got offended way too easily - because she knew she had made silly mistakes.
She often mentions that she suffers from depression and has made some attempts to take her own life in the past. This makes me very wary of being confrontational with her.

I hope I don't sound unsympathetic but this woman's whole personality is warped. She hasn't a good word to say about anyone including her own family, she's judgemental of other people e.g. their style of dressing (too young for their age, too sexy, too much makeup etc.) and she's obsessed with money - her lack of it, how lucky other people with husbands are as they can "pay for stuff"! (I wish).
Its got to the stage where I dread going to work every day, although I've always loved my job and get on very well with my other colleagues.
Sorry this is such a long rant, but has anyone suggestions for either how to deal with herself, or maybe some coping mechanisms for myself? TIA.

monsterchild Thu 27-Sep-12 00:44:40

I would not have spent much time trying to calm her down. I think overall you are taking the right tack, but she's obviously pushing you, intentionally or not. She sounds like a terrible attention seeker as well.

Have you been to HR, or do you know what their policy is about formal complaints? I realize that she will likely retailate against you, but I do think you need to protect yourself (your boss knowing helps) from her doing something to you.

I think keeping track of mistakes and corrective action you've taken will help you if it all goes pear-shaped.

At the very least keep your bass informed and request another transfer! you can't keep working like this, and people who are as you are describing your co-worker can just suck the life out of you.

monsterchild Thu 27-Sep-12 00:45:21

Sorry, keep you BOSS informed. You can do as you like with your bass!

AgnesBligg Thu 27-Sep-12 00:52:06

OK. She sounds hard work, but then, so are many of us in the work place, also everywhere else. So, your task is to manage her, and so far, you have been unable to do so successfully.

Do you need management training? is this something you can go back to your immediate boss with as a request?

It would help you in this particular difficulty, and may give you wings to fly with in the future.

Good luck.

Japple Thu 27-Sep-12 00:56:19

At some point,this person will try to make you "The Fall Guy". I don't care What
her personal or emotional problems are; she is Not a "Team Player" and will
ultimately disrupt her co-workers,her boss,and the very business system that
she is a part of.Start up your "paper trail".Documentations,incidents,signed statements from other workers...dates,times and all.This One must Go.Jill.

monsterchild Thu 27-Sep-12 01:17:14

You know, Agnes has a good point; learning how to deal with your co-worker can only help your own personal success. It's not as though she's the only one out there who is difficult. I know that I could have used some help when I was working with difficult co-workers. It may not have kept me in that position, but I would have had more skills. See if you can get some training.

Tweet2tweet Thu 27-Sep-12 19:44:38

Be careful . I manage someone like this and they can turn nasty. When I was 6months pregnant the one I manage wanted to be paid off when company was making cuts. I couldn't justify job cut as I manage a busy service. She then manipulated another member of staff to say that they both wanted to leave because I was such a bad manager. Fortunatley the rest of the team stuck up for me in my favour and my boss acknowledged that after working there for 7 years I had no complaints against me and the whole thing was fabricated. However very stressful.
I basically handled this by bringing in the following:
- Have weekly team meetings which are minuted where I clearly define expectations for the week and what is expected from team members
- Allocate targets for repetative tasks which all team members need to adhere to and I bring up missed targets during reviews/employee updates (with individuals)
- Spot checks on general work across the team
- Publically praise good work, highlighting individuals to try and get a bit of healthy competition. Good performers also brought on to popular projects etc.
- Allocate work to other team members when others are not pulling their weight and put poor performers onto repetative less popular work
- Ensure that any staff absence, poor time keeping is logged across the team
I know some of the above may sound a bit hard and like whole team is being punished but what I am trying to acheive is a team responsibilty and I have found that this individual has basically shown themselves up. The rest of the team have also found that they like the challenge etc.
Still not easy but has helped.

lydiamama Thu 27-Sep-12 19:55:32

You can not control her behaviour and of course you are not responsible for her depression, or problems, but you are responsible for the work to be done, and done properly. So you need to point out mistakes, and ask for them not to be repeated, said in a nice respectful way, as you are doing. Try positive comments, pray her when she does something without any mistake, especially if she has gone through something without making a past mistake, tell her how nice she looks today, you like her new hair do/cut, her blouse (anything catches your eye, but be truthful in what you say or she will notice you are lying and it will backfire). I would not spend a morning calming anyone down at work, yes support for a few minutes, but I would not allow four people around an adult at work, when you get an audience you may exageratte a bit, like children's tantrums.

ToothbrushThief Fri 28-Sep-12 07:23:44

futter - there is one like this in every workplace! It's just unfortunate that you have got such a close responsibility for her. I agree that dealing with her will really help you develop as a manager.

I had similar issue. I was a new manager and thus a pattern was set where she was supportive but crossed the line into bossing me which increased in frequency. Her work also had issues. Being a bit non confrontational I didn't nip it in the bud.

I am now doing so. Confrontation doesn't have to be heated or negative. I second the documentation method. Discuss issues politley but follow up with minutes stating exactly what is expected. 12 months down the line if she complains....your evidence is there.

People like her, rely on you feeling like you are being unreasonable or can't win because she'll create such a nasty atmosphere. If you feel happy to document it it likely it's not unreasonable. I have found that there is an initial fight to stop you gaining any control but fairly quickly after holding my position she recognised how unreasonable she was being.

I'd still like my thorn to leave...

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