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Upset by unfair situation in new job... is it unfair or am I oversensitive?

(22 Posts)
alltoomuchrightnow Thu 25-Jun-15 22:12:43

Would welcome views on this.

Started new part time job a month ago. Charity shop retail (paid - assistant manager, job share. (there is also a third paid member of staff, who works one day a week) Have a background in this line of work as paid managerial staff and also volunteering.. not for this charity - but for a few others)

Background is that the last manager was very dodgy (their words! amongst others!) and they sacked him. All round very bad experience. I have no link to him whatsoever except taking his (part) job (as it's job share with another woman) some months later

The problem is that they are extremely wary because of this man (and have admitted this). They have no reason to think badly of me but it's definitely a case of 'guilty until proven innocent'. I came with good references and can do the job well. I beat a lot of candidates for this job and it means so much as I had had a breakdown after leaving domestic violence which led to a period of upheaval, change of location and unemployment. I enjoy the role and have been told that figures have improved even though they've had to close one day a week since I started. (i.e. lost a day's trading). (said they were impressed with this) They said that my past experience was second to none and that they've not had this level of experience before there. Despite this, I have had a great deal of negativity and paranoia thrown at me. It's almost like they are waiting for me to trip and fall , or to manifest it going wrong . Like I am the scape goat for this man. I'm definitely treading in very tainted footsteps, work wise. Because of this I am now over anxious /over conscientious, and their paranoia is making me paranoid!
i am going the extra mile in every way to try and over compensate because of how the last manager was. They admitted today 'you will get the brunt of this'. I understand why they are wary. But I wish they would understand how hard it is for me to find my feet with this level of negativity.
I do understand that being a manager does mean a level of 'taking the brunt' or people passing the buck in your direction. But I know the other two paid staff do not get this as they are 'established' from before this man started, and one of them is also a trustee for the charity. I don't work with the other paid staff, they work on my days off. We each work with volunteers, not each other. I am told not to talk to the volunteers about anything personal or related to this (which I wouldn't do anyway) but feel very alone.
The fact that they are now admitting why they are like this doesn't make it feel much better. In fact it came to a head today.
I just want to do my job and earn some money after having had a period of out work. Apart from that, it's my favourite charity. I feel I can't speak up or rock the boat because a/ I'm new and don't want to make a fuss b/ it should be about fundraising for this charity and not about me.
In my last (full-time , paid) charity retail job there was a bullying culture. About 80% of the managers were on sick leave with stress . This is not the same charity and could never be that bad ( I hope! ) but it does seem common in this line of work with paid staff. That you really have to prove yourself , because most people volunteer unpaid.
I only get minimum wage as manager (as did in the other job) but that's not the point. I just want to do my job without any politics.
I feel I am the whipping boy and scape goat because they know they messed up employing the last person. I've had some quite hysterical emails sent to me full of warnings and accusations , very doom and gloom 'e.g. IF you do this, ' type of scenario. I feel they are waiting for me to make a wrong move.
Has anyone ever been in a similar situation and instead of having big shoes to fill, had to do the opposite and bust their guts to prove they are nothing like their predecessor ?

KenDoddsDadsDog Thu 25-Jun-15 22:21:34

It's simply not acceptable to treat you in this way. You're a new hire, a different person. Maybe speak to them about exactly what happened and how you can establish proper checking processes so it never happens again.

alltoomuchrightnow Thu 25-Jun-15 22:35:32

I just don't know what to do :-( It came to a head today
It's so bizarre, like they don't want me to be like him yet they are almost willing or expecting it. Like the email I received not long after starting that I couldn't make sense of at first as was basically accusing me of things . Once I found out about ex manager I realised it was actually warning me not to do the things he had done. They were listing their grievances with him in a roundabout way. It didn't apply to me as I'd only worked a few days there and couldn't possibly have done those things !Plus I'm on probation so on best behaviour anyway.
sigh.. all so exhausting.. just want to do my job. There is nothing in my character, behaviour etc that could give them any indication that I am like this gossipy, troublemaking, thieving ex employer. It's quite offensive that I am judged by him.
I don't know if they have proper HR department in our area. I don't want to go above our area. It would just dig a hole for myself. But they are making this situation. Maybe it's real to them but this man is nothing to me.

KenDoddsDadsDog Fri 26-Jun-15 06:00:53

Who is it sending the email ?

LondonKitty Fri 26-Jun-15 06:14:47

What a horrible work culture! Sounds like very poor leadership. You are experiencing a form of bullying and it is inappropriate for them to justify it on the basis of a previous employee's performance. That is unprofessional (and inexperienced?).
It could be that you need to have a firm conversation with the area manager.
And yes, you need to speak to whoever is in charge of HR.

LineRunner Fri 26-Jun-15 06:21:09

What KenDodd said - who on earth are 'they' and who is sending you these wildly unprofessional emails?

I would ask them to sit down with you and someone from HR to discuss appropriate and inappropriate communication. Get an agreement in writing and get HR onside.

PunkrockerGirl Fri 26-Jun-15 06:28:36

Is it a local or national charity? Either way, you need to call a meeting with HR and your manager. It's unacceptable for you to be treated this way. It may be a charity but it's still an employer and has to follow correct procedures.

SeaMedows Fri 26-Jun-15 11:24:38

First of all, congratulations on your new job, your recovery from your breakdown and your escape from domestic violence. It sounds like you've got a huge amount to be proud of in your life.

I read a really helpful book about leadership in the charity sector (published by the DSC, called 'It's tough at the top').

One of the things that really stuck with me is that people react to your job title, not to you as a person. The word 'CEO', or 'manager' or 'director' comes with a whole load of connotations that people are reacting to - both positively and negatively. It has nothing to do with you or your actions.

It doesn't excuse their behaviour, but it might perhaps be easier for you to put it to one side if you can think that they are responding to a word 'manager', not to you in any manner.

I'm also going to guess that your line managers are taken aback by your level of experience and expertise, and are unconsciously thinking 'how have we got someone so fabulous - is she going to leave at any moment?' This may sound unlikely to you, but I have heard this on more than one occasion in the charity sector, and have actually experienced it myself.

DoreenLethal Fri 26-Jun-15 11:35:54

a - who is 'they'
b - what are 'they' actually doing? you need to turn it back to 'them' and tell them that 'they' need to back off and if there are incorrect processes and procedures in place from before then 'they' need to amend them to make sure the correct checks and balances are in place to avoid 'them' getting 'themselves' into a situation again. You can only do what you can do and 'they' need to cease and desist from tarring you with the same brush as their last manager.

What did he actually do that was so bad?

manchestermummy Fri 26-Jun-15 14:08:11

I'm in a similar situation, so no advice, just solidarity! In my case, I've been in my role for several years but the legacy of my predecessor continues. He was a bully and in many respects incompetent, and I too am often expected to fail (NOT by my managers). I am currently driving a major change of procedure which I have spent years trying to achieve but have had junior staff refuse to engage because "x didn't do it like that". I've decided enough is more than enough and what worked in 2006 isn't necessarily what will work now.

Annoyingly, he made such a dreadful job of one thing in particular that it was withdrawn from my job description when I was hired. The managers acknowledge at long last that this perverse and are taking steps to reinstate this activity.

alltoomuchrightnow Fri 26-Jun-15 23:49:11

they = trustees .They are the ones who 'manage' me without actually working with me in the shop
Doreen, there is a long list. He didn't do hardly any work and sat in the back yard a lot dossing. He gossiped with volunteers and stirred. They can't prove it but reckon he was only there to get stuff he could sell on. When he did a charity stall for them he'd also sell his own stuff with it (for himself)
I don't have line managers. I guess the trustees are equivalent of.
It's a national charity but this shop supports local only

alltoomuchrightnow Fri 26-Jun-15 23:50:23

Sorry to hear you had it hard , Manchestermummy. Glad they are finally acknowledging at least part of .

alltoomuchrightnow Fri 26-Jun-15 23:52:17

What it feels like is a lot of nitpicking and micromanaging due to being over cautions from this man. There is another issue i will explain later but off to bed now as exhausted and doing it all again tomorrow. thanks for replies , will be back!

SilverBirchWithout Sat 27-Jun-15 00:05:51

I guess his behaviour highlighted holes in their processes, procedures and training, it sounds like they may feel to be partly responsible for his behaviour.

Could they be trying to ensure they get that right this time, but are being over dictatorial with how they express themselves, particularly to someone with your skills and experience? Telling a capable member of staff the bleeding obvious can feel dreadfully unempowering and patronising, once they start to trust you it should die down. Do discuss with your direct line manager how this is making you feel though, suggest the best way for you to be managed.

Also, are there ant specific issues with the volunteers who used to work with the former manager that need to be kept an eye on?

KenDoddsDadsDog Sat 27-Jun-15 07:27:21

It sounds bloody annoying , not to mention anxiety causing . Could you perhaps reverse it in some way - like have a charter for your shop (not a list of rules) that all the volunteers have input to. It could be a couple of things that ensure you're working to the same values.
Ask the emailers to come visit the shop and have tea with you , outlining how you are going to work ? Getting them face to face might help .

TendonQueen Sat 27-Jun-15 07:34:59

A face to face with them about this would definitely be best. I would try saying how pleased you are to be the job, but that you need to feel you are trusted and respected, you're not the previous person, and that they can have your resignation immediately if they can't agree to trust you. Suggest some ways of reporting in to them that could work instead of the emails.

SilverBirchWithout Sat 27-Jun-15 12:41:37

I notice you said you don't actually have a specific line manager. That sounds a very odd set-up to me. This may be part of the issue they had in the past. Could you make the suggestion to the Trustees that this structure is unusual and that it would be helpful for them to actually nominate someone to this role, what about one of the other job share, more experienced managers on site.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Sun 28-Jun-15 15:14:44

OP - I think this is mainly about them. I am guessing they feel guilty about the previous person being recruited and employed under their watch. They are now completely paranoid about it happening again. As others have mentioned they might also feel threatened by somebody as experienced as you esp if they feel they didn't do a great job of managing the dodgy ex-employee situ.

Do you feel what they are asking of you in terms of reporting is unreasonable? And it sounds like they are not asking for the same level of detail of feedback/reporting from the other AM? If you feel that they are focusing just on you and tarnish you with the ex-employees bad brush, then I really would consider trying to find some type of official support within the charity either HR or branch support? I am sure you can have an off the record conversation initially?

Or do you know any other M/AMs in other branches who you could reach out to for support?

I appreciate that following your difficult personal time recently (well done on leaving an abusive relationship, it is such a feat flowers) I can understand you not wanting to rock the boat...but they aren't playing fair. It sounds like you are over-delivering and it is still not good enough.

The position of your post is that the trustees they are doing their job and you need to meet their requests. However, they may well have good intentions etc but they could actually be poor trustees (the email from them you allude to sounds very unprofessional and unhelpful) and by raising this you might be able to help the charity sort out a branch which isn't quite working IFSWIM.

And it isn't ideal that the other AM is both an employee & a trustee - do you mean trustee of the shop's charity? It is allowed but I wonder if they give enough thought to the conflict of interest this brings - you should be equals in the shop as two AMs but how can she be if she also sits on the board and makes strategic decisions...esp about staff??? I know it is a small local charity but trustees are meant to provide strategic oversight, they sound overly involved and not really clear of their role. Is there a chair? Are they any good?

If you don't want to go the the charity. I'd be tempted to have a meeting with them/a representative of them and outline that you are doing what you can, that you are reporting back/providing feedback in line with the other AM - assuming you are - and that they just need to trust you. If they want to increase the reporting & feedback (and you feel it unnecessary) push back explaining it will impact on the amount of work you are able to do and that if they ask it of you, then they need to ask it of the other AM as they have to treat employees equally and fairly.

If you are concerned about such a meeting send an email first. This is never ideal, but I took that approach once when I just couldn't summon up the courage to the say what needed to be said. We then met and it was ok. It does mean you can spend time getting the wording & tone right.

As much as they don't trust you, they probably hate the thought of having to go through recruiting again, so I think the power is probably on your side - although I appreciate you need the money/want the job so don't want to risk loosing it.

And going forward, as Silver says they need to elect one of them to be your line manager, not a committee. And ensure that the other AM is line managed too. And therefore any feedback about performance needs to be channelled through them, not all of them sending you bizarre emails when the fancy takes them.

You have been through such a lot OP. Try to summon up the strength to accept that you are working to the best of your ability and this is their issue not yours. Push back where possible "Have you asked AM for that too? What will you do with that information?".

Finally, as silver says, are there any volunteers that were working when the dodgy employee was that are still volunteering? Are there issues with them still being there? He may not have 'acted alone' etc....

Gfplux Thu 02-Jul-15 19:54:01

You use the plural trustees. Does this mean you are receiving emails from more than one person. Are these emails cc'd to the other trustees.
I know you want to be discrete but you have given us little specific information to help advise you.

TheRealMaryMillington Thu 02-Jul-15 20:01:44

Sounds like a nightmare

I would request that you have ONE direct line manager and that you meet them weekly

And meet the rest of the trustees at their regular meeting for reporting purposes

You mentioned one of the paid staff is also a trustee - I am not sure that is actually legally allowed.

Are these trustees for just the local shop and then affiliated to a bigger charity - who is your ACTUAL employer, the shop or the charity?

MrsMargoLeadbetter Thu 02-Jul-15 22:46:40

How are you OP?

crabbyoldbat Fri 03-Jul-15 12:43:20

I was about to mention - there have to be very special and explicit circumstances, agreed by the Charity Commission, before an employee can be a trustee. (but I was beaten to it!). Usually the Chair of trustees is your line manager - you should deal with them only, if you can, and enlist their help in getting the rest of them to back off. It is very much not good practice to interfere with the operational running is such detail.

Have a think about an approach to the Chair that gets them onside, and working with you, rather than against you.

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