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Hello - I am new here so firstly, hi!
I have an issue at work, which is bordering on the ridiculous, but is causing me a great deal of stress.
Two years ago I was line manager for a team of staff and one member of staff in particular made things very difficult for me, which bordered on myself being bullied daily. There were numerous things that went on, such as being told daily I wasn't doing a very good job to being screamed and shouted at for asking this staff member to do something to constantly being told it wasn't good enough when trying to address their concerns.
Things came to a head and I couldn't face going into work and I was actually covering two roles so I asked to be transferred to another team as I was so unhappy working in this team. We recruited my replacement and we did a handover meeting, which started off with this staff member verbally attacking me. I couldn't see or feel that there was anything constructive to be gained from this meeting and given the events that had occured previously I didn't have the mental strength to sit and be attacked once more. My confidence had taken a battering, along with my mental health. I got up to leave the meeting, saying nothing was going to be gained and if this staff member had all of these concerns about my ability to take out a grievance and it would be dealt with that way. I was told to sit down and I was not leaving the room as I was her manager and had a duty of care to listen. I mentally did not have the strength and left the room.
This staff member then sent an email several weeks later to her new manager to say that she was not taking this grievance further (June 2015).
I was just relieved to be out of there and working in a new team and wanted to put it all behind me.
I was then asked to work on a consultation, which involved this staff member, but her new manager led on that team and I focussed on my team. From the point of the consultation paper being issued, I was summoned to a meeting to say this staff member was taking a grievance out against me for walking out of a meeting in May 2015 and I would need to meet to apologise!
I initially agreed to meet, but then was told that the staff member was not in the right frame of mind to meet and it never happened. I was called into another meeting on Friday to be told that she was now ready to meet, but I said I was no longe rprepared to as I had a meltdown at the end of February as it brought back everything that happened in that team. I feel like I am being bullied into a meeting for a grievance that happened two years ago. I no longer work in that team and haven't seen this staff member for at least 18 months, but am being told by HR that I could find myself at a disciplinary meeting if I don't play ball.
I cannot face this woman in any capacity and feel if they have written evidence from 2 years ago that she wasn't taking forward, why I am now being put in this position.
I'm amazed this happened to someone who reported to you! Given you were her senior, i would have thought you had every right to have gone to HR / senior management and got them to enact their bullying policy, or at least advise you what to do next. The fact it is 2 years later is ludicrous. Doesn't this person have enough to keep them busy?!
Can you book a meeting with either HR if you have one, or your own line manager to discuss the situation? Or do you have a Union Rep you can seek advice from?
Thank you for your reply.
Yes I have had to get Union involvement as HR and senior management have said we need to have mediation. I can't see what this will achieve when I no longer work in the same team, building or town.
Unfortunately as I'm refusing to do this, I'm being threatened with action being taken against me for not following procedure, but I can't face seeing this woman again. It was a horrendous time. My line manager has said I HAVE to meet with her and I have no choice. I've put together everything for my rep and even have things witnessed. At the time I was just glad to be out of there.
She's using dignity at work and they seem to think after 2 years she can do this despite having written evidence from her to say she wasn't doing anything about it on 2015.
The whole thing is ridiculous, yet I feel I'm being painted as the bad guy!!
If the only criticism she has it that you walked out of a meeting, then you shouldn't have anything to worry about. Your organisation could be contractually duty bound to allow the woman to exercise a grievance. That said, they are unlikely to go to any great expense to make changes in the workplace to appease a seemingly whinging troublemaker.
If I were you I'd turn up to the Grievance meeting/ Investigation in a power suit, high heels and be confident you have nothing to fear. She'll come out of it as a timewaster.
Another option might be to raise a grievance yourself against her and the line manager for bullying/harassment. Given they've allowed hers they can't really argue that you are out of time. It does just prolong the whole saga though so you might not want to do it.
Just wanted to say this sounds awful when you thought a difficult time was behind you.
Would your organisation agree to a video call mediation so you felt some (geographical) distance? Failing that as Daisy said wear clothes you feel confident in and remember that the role of s mediator should be to keep things calm and avoid repeats of last time.
Good luck 🍀
I wouldn't do the power suit. I think you can diffuse this whole thing by making it a non-event. It has built up in your mind because she has behaved really badly, but you don't need to give her the satisfaction of knowing that and you don't need to allow it to continue to affect you. So, best foot forward, this is a minor inconvenience and needs to be ironed out before you can get on with the job you are paid to do. She is being utterly ridiculous, but you are going to agree to meet, once, so that you can get on with your job. That is how you regain the control of your situation and your senior colleagues will respect you for it.
What an awful situation and she sounds like a really rude and petty woman.
I'd agree to the meeting with a third party present, grit my teeth and fake apologise all the way through: "I'm so sorry you feel like that", "what a shame you are still so upset about this after all this time". Stay really calm and composed and don't rise to any of her bait if she tries to start another argument.
The fact that she was able to get away with treating you like this is just unbelievable. However, you need to get through this, so go to the meeting, take someone with you, give her the apology, and hopefully that will be the end of it.
This whole situation sounds dreadful.
Personally, I wouldn't give this woman the satisfaction of attending a meeting when a) there is obviously nothing to be achieved; b) you've already had to move job roles because of her; c) you've already agreed to meet and she wasn't ready and d) management have written evidence that she was taking further 2 years ago.
I cannot understand why they're indulging her - surely written evidence is enough and they need to tell her based on this it's not going any further.
Is this related to the consultation in anyway? You say that her line manage led on the changes for that team.
2 years is absolutely ridiculous. From what you say, it sounds like she has her own agenda and is out for a personal vendetta as she wants to have her say from that meeting which you walked out of. Nothing more. I can't see there is anythign to be gained from meeting whatsoever.
I would refuse to go to any such meeting - sounds like you've been through enough already. That, or go and get yourself signed off and show them just how stressed you're feeling.
I don't agree that you have built this up in your mind. At the end of the day bullying is bullying and why should somebody who has been bullied be made to go to a meeting with the bully so they can ultimately have another go. Absolutely not. Stick to your guns. Both your management and HR seem to be siding with this woman.
Absolutely do NOT give her an apology!!! Be strong and stick to your guns.
Thank you for all of your replies.
I queried whether her "grievance" was related to the consultation, but I was told it wasn't and she just wants closure and an apology from me. When I agreed to meet, the line manager came back and said she wasn't now in the "right frame of mind" because of the consultation and therefore didn't feel able to meet! I feel like she is playing games.If it wasn't related to the consultation, why did she refuse?!
It was also reported back to me that when the consultation paper came out, she started screaming at her new line manager that I was responsible for her potentially being downgraded and I bet I was sitting there laughing to myself and it was personal!
This woman has a lot of anger towards me and mentally I am not in a position or strong enough to sit there and once again hear how ineffective I was. I had a breakdown at the time of all of this. I have had to take a pay cut of about £5k because of this situation, now have a terrible commute each morning.
I have been advised to take out my own grievance, which is something I don't really want to do, but feel that I should because facing a meeting is out of the question - I haven't built it up in my mind. I can't even face going to the building she works at and I deliberately avoid being there during the days I know she's there - that is how bad it is.
I probably sound terribly weak, but my DH is adamant I am not meeting with her as he says it's a step backwards and just revisiting a lot of stress.
I actually agree with your DH.
Raise a grievance against this woman. You are having no support from HR and you have plenty of evidence against this woman.
Does your grievance policy not specify a time limit for when grievances have to be raised? I am a union rep in the civil service and our procedures have a three month limit for issues being raised. Two years sounds excessive and I don't see how the employer could investigate this after such a long period of time, as any witnesses may have moved on or not remember the incident. I would ask your union rep to raise this asap.
Having read your update I've changed my mind and agree with those who are saying don't meet her. Your mental health isn't worth it!
If you need to take a grievance out against her then do that. It sounds like she's a very difficult person who is making HR's life difficult so they're taking her side. If you start acting just as difficult maybe they'll stop pandering to her ridiculous requests. Can you escalate within HR to somebody more sensible?
I've checked the Policy and I can't find anything which puts a time limit on grievances being raised, sadly.
BabyHamster - it is the senior HR person I am dealing with - Business Partner, so nobody else really I can escalate to.
My Union rep was due to speak to HR yesterday PM, so I just waiting to hear what the outcome of that conversation was.
OKay, so according to HR we have no time limits within our policies restricting when a staff member can raise a grievance, which I find incredible!
HR have said that because I will not meet with this member of staff, the grievance will need to be formally investigated, which could result in a disciplinary hearing. I am actually beyond caring in all honesty. I know I haven't done anything wrong and I just want this whole nightmare to end so I can move on at work without this hanging over my head.
OP please don't catastophise (said kindly).
What is the likelihood it will lead to a disciplinary ( unless they are hell bent on getting rid of you, in which case you're on your way out the door anyway)
Just carry on doing your job and let them waste their time on HR processes that are honestly a time sink to the organisation.
As I aid before it's ludicrous after 2 years and the employee sounds like she needs to give her head a wobble. Keep your dignity and stay cool!
When you are on the receiving end of something like this it can be very stressful. I have experienced similar, possibly still rumbling on in my case - I'm never sure if the staff member has finally run out of steam or if they are coming back with something else. I am tired of trying to second-guess what they will come up with next - I rarely speak to them now, but communicate mostly by email, as almost anything I say gets mis-quoted back to me. The person I am dealing with is forceful to he point of being almost aggressive and has lied in meetings with HR. I have considered submitting a grievance against them, but like you I just want to put it behind me, rise above it and move on. I really want to say to them 'just grow up, grow a thicker skin and get over yourself!'
Could you have a frank discussion with your line manager and/or HR, about how this is impacting on you? Ask what support is available to you to help deal with this person and safeguard your own mental health.
Sorry to hear you are in a similar predicament I'mnotwhoyouthinkiamoh
The added difficulty I have is that her line manager's manager sat on this for nearly a year before asking me to meet in January 2017. Then with the consultation, this same manager agreed that she could postpone meeting as she wasn't in the right frame of mind. Nevermind about making me wait and letting this drag on.
I have had a very frank discussion with both HR and my line manager who have just told me to get counselling and gave me the number of an employee wellbeing initiative we use within my organisation. I have even - ashamedly - been in floods of tears in front of my manager telling her just how this situation is making me feel.
I am trying not to catastrophise this, but being on the receiving end and fretting this will go on my job record, isn't the best situation to be in!
Where the hell do you work for all this shit to be going on? You poor thing.
I'd let them take it to a disciplinary and stand your ground. You are not in the wrong here.
The only place I've ever worked that this could conceivably happen is my local council. Worst few months of my life.
Is seeking alternative employment an option? I ask because those toxic environments actually erode self confidence and self worth and if you can get a role somewhere supportive and more nurturing you might have a better chance of being happy at work.
Blimey, shortcake76, you're not getting a lot of support from the organisation, are you?
Did you contact the counselling people? Wouldn't do any harm and would give you another perspective, plus it should help you work out your options and maybe help you deal with it better?
I've had to learn not to take personally the stuff that this person brings up - I'm sure it'sher not me IYSWIM.
Does your organisation have other policies you could make reference to, eg ones on treating people fairly for example?
Hope your Union rep is getting some sense out of HR.
I work for the public sector (NHS) so there is lots of red tape and hoops that need to be jumped through. My Union rep thinks it's absolutely ridiculous too and has been very good and has even told HR how stupid (worded better) this is.
In terms of toxic environment, I no longer work in the same team, same building, same part of the city! I had to leave my role there and my Union rep says that should be enough without the need for all of this.
I haven't bothered with the counselling as I don't really need it (appreciate it probably doesn't sound this way on here!)
I do have the dignity at work policy and we are saying this is a form of harassment and I also have my "side" of events all written down and have marked up where witnessed - a lot of what she said / did was overheard and witnessed by colleagues and the meeting to which the issue relates to, her new line manager was there and has said she will provide a statement.