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Has going to HR made everything worse?

(49 Posts)
UnhappyNeedHelp Wed 10-Feb-16 20:37:55

I'm having problems at work that are seriously getting me down. For context, I'm 24 and have been in work for 3 and a bit years. I started my third job three months ago.

My manager has a reputation in the organisation for being difficult to work with. She's often described as rude, and she describes herself as 'grumpy'. At times, she can be aggressive and confrontational in her tone and manner. However, despite this, we do sometimes have a laugh and she can be very kind and thoughtful. I would say we do have quite a good working relationship.

It's the changeability that I find difficult to work with. She can be short and snap, for no apparent reason, leaving me nervous. She is also a huge perfectionist, micro managing me to the extent where nothing I do can leave the door unless she's seen and approved it. She expects me to micro manage processes in a similar way, which is not my nature and, in my humble opinion, also not really my job. She will often make changes to what I do seven or eight times, leaving quite harsh comments and abrupt criticism, which is having two effects; one being that my confidence is at an all time low and I have no faith in my ability to do my role, and the other being that work is being delayed and delivered late. I'm being criticised by her for my time management. I've mentioned this to her at catch ups and she has been supportive - but my work I've submitted since still isn't up to her standard.

I regularly take work home, work on the weekends and stay late most nights in the week, in an attempt to improve and win her approval. When she does give me feedback, I keep it and refer to it when preparing new pieces of work. She knows all this, and has seen me do so. I am trying so hard, and it's still not good enough.

This role is a step up from my last one, and I was so excited to start, but it's all just gone so horribly. For what it's worth, I excelled in my last position, there was never any real criticism of my work - of course constructive suggestions on how to improve, but nothing on this level. I was even praised personally by our old CEO for work on several of my projects.

On Friday I went to see HR for a confidential chat on the advice of another colleague in a different department, who witnessed me becoming very distressed at a mistake I'd made that I knew I would have to 'confess'. I told them that, despite a reasonably good working relationship, I felt demoralised and low.

Over the weekend I received several emails, one of which was in response the mistake. I found the emails intimidating, and saw HR first thing on Monday about them. However I decided not to take things any further.

Today, I was criticised for something very minor about 5 minutes after I walked in the door. As I say it was minor, but I just felt so ground down that I went to the loo and burst into tears. I was spotted by my boss' boss' boss, who was obviously concerned - and took me straight to HR. I was questioned as a 'new case' and told them pretty much everything I've said here. I said I couldn't be a mini version of my manager, and that despite working incredibly hard, I couldn't meet her expectations.

They spoke to my manager straight after and I saw her leaving looking upset. I was told she wasn't coming back for the afternoon. I was told that other things are going on, not just what's happening with me - it's 10% me apparently - and she needed some time. I'm glad, as I said we have a good relationship, and I hope she gets any extra support needed. Our line manager has told me not to worry and that, in the nicest possible way, it's not all about me.

But this is the bit that made me nervous - I've been asked to send examples of recent work to my boss' boss. As I say, my confidence is at an all time low anyway and I'm terrified what this means. What if they say it's shit?! I told them in the meeting that I believe my performance is being affected, as I'm so anxious. Why would they want to see my work?

I also mentioned after the meeting that all of this is making me feel worried. The response was 'if you've told the truth you have nothing to worry about. If you've lied then you do.' What does that kind of response mean? I'm scared that I've been made out to look a liar. But I'm not! I've been open about everything that's happened. I took advice from my mum, my boyfriend and confidentially from another manager on my team (who noticed something was up and gently asked me about it), and I've tried to do this all the right way.

I just feel like poor performance is going to be used against me, despite the fact my performance is poor because my confidence has been destroyed by my manager. I'm dreading seeing her again tomorrow and I'm wondering if i should just cut my losses and leave. I throw up daily from anxiety, can't sleep, don't eat properly and become tearful at the slightest thing (which doesn't help!).

As I said she's got a reputation for being difficult, and other colleagues are being very supportive - obviously I can't tell them what's happening with HR, but they know. A few have asked if everything is okay, and I've leaned on them in the past for support - I've been upset or anxious at work, and at times I've had tears in my eyes during meetings which happen straight after I've been criticised (see - tearful at the slightest thing!), which they must have noticed - and I'm worried that will be used against me too, and it'll be made out like I'm a trouble maker. Will they ask colleagues about me?

I'm not trying to start drama, in fact it feels like it's ruining my life. I'm young and junior and I think people feel sorry for me, in this situation which i'm obviously finding difficult so early on in my career. Two people came over with little pick me up gifts today, and another emailed offering a hug. I just want to get on, do well and be happy.

I just wondered if any of you had any advice on dealing with this kind of situation - just getting through the awful days, but actually long term too. Will it ever get any better? Thank you so much if you read this. I have never felt so low.

So as not to drip feed: I'm still technically on probation.

BeaufortBelle Wed 10-Feb-16 20:48:55

Sounds like she has form and you have provided the evidence they need to take disciplinary action. All that said if you don't think the job's right for you cut your losses and get another one. Life's too short to be miserable at work.

UnhappyNeedHelp Wed 10-Feb-16 20:58:24

Thank you Beaufort. I am giving serious consideration to it, especially as I'm young and don't have a mortgage/babies etc, so it wouldn't be the end of the world. What would I say about only lasting 3 months here though?

Part of me doesn't want to give up. I keep thinking that I'm not one to just roll over (or at least I didn't used to be). My mum was in a similar situation years ago and she says she will always regret not trying harder to get the help she needed, which is colouring my outlook I think. She ended up quitting.

Even if she does go through a disciplinary, I'll still probably have to work very closely with her. What would it achieve? I don't see how it would change her behaviour that much, which really is a product of who she is. (Genuine questions - I ponder these things).

yummumto3girls Wed 10-Feb-16 22:30:05

I agree, it sounds like this has been going on for years and you are the one that has finally spoken up and given them the evidence they need. I to would start looking elsewhere, life is way too short to work with people like that. It's not giving up its recognising that you are a hard worker and have lots to offer. Move on and put it behind you as a life experience. Good luck.

EBearhug Wed 10-Feb-16 22:31:34

I would wait and see what happens - I think Beaufort's right, that you have given them evidence they can use. But I'd also get my CV up to date, because if things don't improve, you need to move on for your own well-being.

UnhappyNeedHelp Wed 10-Feb-16 22:42:32

Thank you very very much for your replies. A little bit of kindness and understanding has set me off again!

I had a panic attack and vomited about an hour ago - over a letter I was asked to send today. I've convinced myself I did it wrong, and it'll be lost in the post, and I'll get the blame, and I should have done more, should have photocopied the envelope to prove it was stickered correctly etc. I did check with reception it was labelled right, and put it in her hands myself.

But this is the kind of thing I'm criticised for. Not being all over every single detail etc. So I suppose she has a point.

Woodhill Wed 10-Feb-16 22:52:29

It can be difficult as you begin to doubt yourself. I think u have been courageous going to HR and hope it works out

UnhappyNeedHelp Wed 10-Feb-16 22:58:45

Thanks Wood. That's exactly it. I don't know if anything I do is any good anymore. I don't trust myself to get anything right! Which isn't helping and is affecting my performance.

The more I write this all down, the more obvious the solution is to be honest...

PoppieD Wed 10-Feb-16 22:59:55

OP well done in being brave enough to carry this through- I was in a similar situation in my last job-not my manager but a band 6 above me, our actually manager was completely unsupportive of other staff and allowed this behaviour even when it included being screamed at and this band 6 storming out of meetings, unfortunately I was discouraged about going to HR and was told nothing would be done- my replacement lasted 6 months and had the savvy to record the behaviour and is now taking complaint higher. Like your mum I wish I had. Best of luck to you- you know you are good at your job and a competent person.

UnhappyNeedHelp Wed 10-Feb-16 23:07:08

Hey poppie. I don't feel all that brave crying in bed on my own! Dreading tomorrow but I will try and remember all of your kind and wise words.

I'm sorry you had such a horrid time. Until you're in the situation you don't realise how much it affects your whole life do you?

I'm going to see it through as much as I can bear. I'm just worried this is only the beginning.

PoppieD Wed 10-Feb-16 23:11:40

I did lots of car crying! Looking back now I can't believe I allowed myself to be treated like that, but the forever changing behaviour being nice then 5 mins later screaming then smiling again had me so on edge! I wasnt expecting her to be an actual 'friend' but just to be professional and consistent with her behaviour- felt like being 5 again when friends would fall out with each other with no provocation!!

UnhappyNeedHelp Wed 10-Feb-16 23:15:00

Yes, exactly that. It's difficult isn't it. It makes me feel like there is something wrong with me.

How did you get through the day to day at the time poppie? I need tips! If I have to cry, I go outside... But don't always make it sad

I feel broken to be honest. I wouldn't know where to start with applying for new jobs, I truly have lost faith in my abilities.

OnceMoreIntoTheBleach Wed 10-Feb-16 23:25:09

Could you ask to be moved to a different team or out under a different manager maybe, instead of moving to a completely new place? In my job it's considered reasonable to say you and your line manager just aren't a good 'fit' and ask if you can change, but obviously depends on your type of work.

Also, asking to see examples of your work might just be them gathering evidence about her rather than about you, if that makes sense. Examples to show that your are perfectly capable just as you are smile

Sounds like you have worked hard to make a go of it, but as others have said, if it doesn't work out, it might be best to move on. I would definitely explore whether it's possible to move to a different team though.

PoppieD Wed 10-Feb-16 23:25:36

With great difficulty to be honest- lots of venting with friends and planning nice things for when i finished. I also made myself very aware of our work place rules and regulations as I had become paranoid about things and thought I would be in trouble most days for anything- looking back now I can see that this was the level of anxiety that i had been driven to. I found that looking for jobs and completing applications actually reminded me of what I could do and the skills and experience that i had, and just because it wasn't working out for me there, didn't mean I was a lost cause. It sounds to me that your managers and HR are aware of the issues with her and are acting on it. I also downloaded some selfhelp worksheets on assertiveness which I found really useful.

SealSong Wed 10-Feb-16 23:27:57

Dear Unhappy, you are going through a horrible time, and I truly understand the anxiety caused by your situation, cos I have been there myself with a manager who sounds very similar to yours.
You sound very anxious, and there is the risk that this level of stress and anxiety can make us ill. So, while you do have to see what the next few days turn out like - and they may not be as bad as you think - I would like to say this to you:
Please try to keep all of this in perspective. You are young, you can change jobs if need be, you can walk away tomorrow if you have to. Life will change, things will get better and as they say - this too shall pass. Keep reminding yourself that you are a capable, valuable person. Try not to keep thinking about work all the time - do some exercise, go for a walk, meet up with friends. Take care of body and soul - eat regular healthy meals, get plenty of sleep. It's a case of taking as good care of yourself as you can at the moment and using active strategies to manage stress. Practice relaxation techniques too.
I know all of the above is easy for me to say, but it does help. It will keep you going through this, and you will come out the other side.
Stay strong x

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Wed 10-Feb-16 23:37:53

You are being bullied - it's how it "gets" you.

It's happened but by bit so you don't know if you've been unreasonable - so slow you hadn't noticed

The fact the others are offering gifts and support means they know it's her not you!

You are strong because weaker people would have just left - leaving her ready for her next victim! I would have just left!!

It my not seem like it - but you are doing the right thing

Good luck Let us know how tomorrow goes

UnhappyNeedHelp Wed 10-Feb-16 23:41:06

Poppie I know that paranoia all too well. Thing is, it's often her rules she wants me to follow, not the company's - and there's no handbook for them! Thanks for sharing with me though. I hope you are happy at work now, like we all deserve smile

Seal your post has made me cry (er, more than I already am!). I keep telling myself we all have blips in life. I am worried my health is deteriorating. I don't sleep much, pick at meals, and I haven't been to the gym in almost a month because I stay late every evening. You're right though. Sorting all those things would probably make this easier to bear. Thank you for your advice and support.

It sounds a bit silly, but I've always considered myself to be one who stands up for 'the right thing'. I'm just going to try and think of this horrible process as doing that, not just for me but for my manager too. How things are is not 'right' for anyone.

UnhappyNeedHelp Wed 10-Feb-16 23:44:17

sally - what a perfect X-post! Thank you. This is all helping me grow stronger.

And once, sorry I missed you, that isn't something i'd considered. One to keep in mind. It could possibly work - my skills (I have some I swear!) might transfer to another division, maybe in another office. Thank you.

SealSong Wed 10-Feb-16 23:46:58

Sorry I made you cry smile... Honestly though you WILL get through this. Just gotta look after yourself a bit and take it a day at a time (un-Mumsnetty hug)

UnhappyNeedHelp Wed 10-Feb-16 23:50:17

I needed that hug seal!

Thank you all for your ideas and support. Obviously I'm sad that any of you had to go through similar, but it's oddly nice to know it's not just me.

I've just shown my boyfriend this thread and his response was - what a lovely community! grin

MagpieCursedTea Wed 10-Feb-16 23:52:02

Sorry you're going through this OP. When you send the examples of your work, can you include the notes from your manager on how to improve and show how you've followed them?
I've been in a similar position and it was scary but I had lovely colleagues who got me through it. It sounds like (apart from your manager!) you have some nice people that you work with. I think you're very brave and I wish you all the best thanks

MuttonWasAGoose Wed 10-Feb-16 23:56:49

Try to get some sleep. This woman has taken over your head too much... Try to tell yourself that it will ultimately be OK. Whatever happens, I'm sure a year from now you'll be feeling completely different.

UnhappyNeedHelp Thu 11-Feb-16 00:02:28

magpie unfortunately I've already sent them what they asked for, probably another example of me being undone by my overly keen to please nature! If it goes further though, I will do that. Thanks, it's a good idea. Hope it all worked out for you and thanks for my first ever flowers!!

mutton I know you are completely right. A year just feels like a bloody long time right now sad

PoshPenny Thu 11-Feb-16 00:12:26

I'm sorry you're going through this, I think you have nothing to worry about and your examples of work you've submitted will be just what the senior bosses and HR are looking for. Being bullied at work is absolutely shit and it seems to be more common with women bosses in my experience.

EBearhug Thu 11-Feb-16 00:14:40

You are standing up for the right thing, and you're trying to get things changed for the better. Not everyone will do that. It is horrible to go through, but hang on in there. (Yeah, okay, when my director said that to me recently, I just said, "how long for?" and burst into tears, so I might not be the best person to advise!)

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