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Career Suidcide - any tips to get through a difficult time

(45 Posts)
chocolatekimmy Sat 16-Jun-07 10:45:05

I have just done the ultimate no no and put in a formal grievance against my boss. He is a senior manager on site and I am his deputy.

Basically he has lied to me recently about a situation I was in and this is just the latest in a long line of issues. I have only been back from maternity leave for three weeks and things are worse than ever before. At least before I knew I was going off soon and that kept me going.

I think he feels threatened as I am more experienced and qualified than him and we both know we don't like each other.

I do want to go anyway and I am sure he will be more than pleased if I do.

Its just that I now have to go through all the S**t of dealing with it whilst suffering stress for something serious unrelated to work. I have just started a course of counselling.

I am fairly knowledgeable about employment law and I know I potentially could look at constructive dismissal but I seriously don't want to do that as I know its hard and I have enough other things on my plate.

Basically the guy is a twat, likely to be protected by others at the top, and will probably walk away from this with no consequences.

Any tips to help me get through this, absolutely dreading it Monday when I go in for the first time after putting the letter in?

Any employment lawyer advice on how to 'play the game' on this one would be gratefully received.


whomovedmychocolate Sat 16-Jun-07 19:54:16

On Monday I can almost guarantee he won't say anything but will give you slanted looks and be hyper civil or formal. Treat it as a form of entertainment if you can.

If I were in your shoes, and I have been tempted to do similar in the past, I'd explain to personnel very reasonably that you are keen to get the matter resolved and if they would agree to a decent paid notice period (which you wouldn't work) and an agreed reference for future employers, I'd just take three months and find something else.

The only thing that kept me sane when I had a boss from hell was remembering that she was older and would die soon . Seriously, that and setting her off on wild goose chases for fun. Personally I would be hyper professional with EVERYONE on Monday and not worry too much, you don't sound like you have any intention of being there much longer. Just angle them to pay you off and move on

milkchocolateStarryStarryNight Sat 16-Jun-07 19:56:56

I agree. Ask for a meeting with HR to discuss the matter, and make sure you get as much money out of it as possible, and good references.

ChasingSquirrels Sat 16-Jun-07 19:58:19

is this just a chocolate thread or can anyone join in

milkchocolateStarryStarryNight Sat 16-Jun-07 20:14:29

I think this is just an odd coincidence...

whomovedmychocolate Sat 16-Jun-07 20:14:32

Are you a grey or a red squirrel? Red squirrels have been known to steal chocolate. If you are grey though, please jump in

RubberDuck Sat 16-Jun-07 20:16:24

Mmmm... Terry's Chocolate Squirrels... remember them? <<bizarre tangent sorry>>

ChasingSquirrels Sat 16-Jun-07 20:20:14

I'm NOT a squirrel, I chase the bloody things!
I would love to jump in and add something helpful, however I have nothing useful to say . So just hope you get it resolved ck and get a good wodge of cash out of them.

whomovedmychocolate Sat 16-Jun-07 20:23:37

Ah chasingsquirrels, are you in fact, my cat then?

ChasingSquirrels Sat 16-Jun-07 20:24:33

bugger, rumbled!

whomovedmychocolate Sat 16-Jun-07 20:25:16

CS - about the mouse head in the conservatory

I'd like a word!

ChasingSquirrels Sat 16-Jun-07 20:26:23

<makes swift exit from thread>

chocolatekimmy Sat 16-Jun-07 21:33:04

Chocolates good - alcohol would be better.

Try not to laugh too much but...

I am a HR Manager, he is the senior HR Manager!!!!

milkchocolateStarryStarryNight Sat 16-Jun-07 21:51:10

oh dear, happy I could make you laugh, fellow choccie!

So as a senior HR, he should know better than whatever it is he is doing!

And what is the procedures when it is hr staff having issues with more seniour hrs? Sorry, I am not much help. But you have my sympathy!

foxcub Sat 16-Jun-07 23:05:22

Chocolate skimmy: Snap - I've just put in a grievance against my boss too! He's the MD and I'm a senior manager and it will have to be heard by the CEO!!

I have a meeting with HR and my boss tomorrow, as an attempt to resolve it. If he can sort it all out I will drop the grievance. If he can't, I will persue the grievance.

Sometimes you have to do this, otherwise he'll just carry on treating you like crap.

I don't think you have to leave, lots of people put in grievances. You have a right to have the issues resolved. Just be professional about it and stand your ground. Its him who is the arsehole not you!

squiffy Sun 17-Jun-07 07:44:49

I put in a formal grievance against my MD and the director of HR - can you believe that the HR director was a regular contributor to an email group called 'He-mail' where a bunch of blokes in the company exchanged sexist jokes with each other!!!!!!!!!!!

It is a game and you have to treat it like that. Just because he is senior doen't mean that he isn't a complete fool. He is no doubt most put out that you had the termity to return from maternity leave and will probably tie himself up in knots by implying that you are perhaps 'not ready' to return to work or something. Prepare for the meetings by working out what each participant wants to get out of the meeting and how you can either manipulate their position or deliver what they want whilst achieving what you want. Remember that every moan and complaint they make against you represents their 'putting their head over the parapet' and gives you an opportunity to go for the jugular. The more points they make, the bigger the opportunity to prove a point wrong and strengthen your own case (and don't forget that the same applies in reverse - stick to the facts).

Work out also what all the potential outcomes might be and which of them are acceptable. List them in order of priority to you and be prepared to negotiate your position down from your no 1 outcome to maybe no 3 or 4. The list will make you keep your head clear and if you look at it from the bottom up you can see what his wishes are and where he will be able to negotiate.

Unless you know you can destroy the chap completely, then the best outcomes are where you get what you want without making the other side look a complete fool (otherwise they won't accept and will carry on fighting). If you think that you can't take him down completely in this round you might want to keep some ammunition aside to save for a better opportunity in future. Only you will now what evidence you have and how the company will react.

Whatever you do don't let it get you down (easy to say, I know). Whilst it would be nice if people were fair to each other that only happens in fairy tales. He won't treat you fairly and might be nasty, and every time he does that use it against him. Unfortunately at your level it is all politics and all smoking mirrors and all games. Look on every day as an intellectual challenge, plan for all likelihoods and carry it through. You don't have to be strong and hard just so long as you can appear to be so.

Good luck.

Idreamofdaleks Sun 17-Jun-07 08:48:25

Sorry to hear you are going through this. I raised a grievance against my boss earlier this year. I am now very glad that I did.

Here are some things that helped me.
You need to be the emotionally mature and professional one in this dispute. So always be professional no matter what provocation. Whenever your boss is unprofessional, note this to use against him in the future.

Keep detailed written records of everything. I used to spend an hour each day after work doing this. A nightmare, but essential imo.

Read your HR policies and work out what it is that your boss does that breaks the rules - stick to these things in your complaints about him.

As keeps being said, this is now a game - so distance yourself from the upset feelings you may have. The end is in sight and you have taken control back. Sometimes you need to play the game through, so you may not be able to cut straight to leaving now. You will feel better in yourself on Monday for making this complaint, and this is the most important thing. Your boss will be suprised and outraged - and angry with you. Sit back and watch this reaction and use it to your advantage. He will make mistakes, but he will also do his utmost to put more pressure on you. Stand firm against this and stick to your guns. Good luck!

Idreamofdaleks Sun 17-Jun-07 08:51:39

IS your employer scared of adverse publicity? This can be a powerful card to hold, better than constructive dismissal - but don't play this too early.

Your boss is likely to be protected but isn't likely to get through this unblemished if you play the game well.

chocolatekimmy Sun 17-Jun-07 15:27:54

Thats some fantastic advice, thank you everyone. Squiffy I like the list of outcomes in priority order, something I need to put my mind to.

I'm not scared of the process or the legal aspect. I just feel very vulnerable at the moment as I have been diagnosed with stress so coping is so much harder than normal and thats on top of being off for a long time on maternity leave.

In all honesty, I feel embarrassed about the whole thing, like I won't be seen as credible anymore for 'daring' to complain. Its also good to hear that others have done the same and got through it. I think I will look on it as a game and keep my cards close to my chest and see how they manage the process

Idreamofdaleks Sun 17-Jun-07 18:27:47

Sometimes a grievance is the only real option. When it is, you need to be brave to go through with it, and you need to behave impeccably.

It is a very stressful situation, but I think you have probably hit rock bottom if you have taken out a grievance - and you are now on the way back up again.

Don't be embarrassed, a grievance is about your boss behaving in an unacceptable way as defined by your organisation. What kind of organisation are you working in, and how big is it? What grounds are you giving for your grievance?

Idreamofdaleks Sun 17-Jun-07 18:48:16

On the subject of credibility - mine did not suffer after I filed a grievance for bullying against my manager. I was offered a better job working for a better manager. My old manager hates me of course but also respects me more than before. She hasn't changed or been made to change though .

Other bullying managers don't want me to work for them (hardly a disadvantage).

My credibility and integrity have been enhanced in most other people's eyes, including the eyes of some extremely senior people - I did not expect this.

Idreamofdaleks Sun 17-Jun-07 18:49:23

One more thing - are you tapping into all the available sources of support that you can?

NormaSnorks Sun 17-Jun-07 19:06:01

Good advice about keeping notes/ a diary, and being uber-professional about EVERYTHING.

I had to go through a nasty redundancy whilst pregnant which I (and they) knew I could have easily proved as a constructive dismissal case, but didn't want to have the hassle. My other top tips would be:

- take a big file into all the relevant HR meetings - put your relevant notes in the front and stuff any old paper in the back; use coloured file dividers with words like 'Legal'; 'Employment Law'; Maternity Alliance'; 'Sex Discrimination' written on them (doesn;'t matter if there's nothing in them!)
- ask for everything in writing - it's a pain for them, and makes them think twice about what is recorded
- you probably ahve the right to have a colleague accompany you to meetings - this could be useful if you a) have someone, and b) feel it would help you handle the stress.

I was once the 'supporting colleague' for someone who was (wrongly IMO) accused of gross incompetence (but basically was being shafted by the MD, by not being given full information). I just took notes and asked for clarification, but he told me afterwards it was a real help - especially if you end up in meetings where there are two of 'them' but just one of 'you'.

Don't feel pressured to make any decisions (e.g. 'packages')in meetings with HR if you're not ready to. ASk for time to think about things and "consult with your lawyers" (even if you're not using any!). Come on here and ask advice/ chew things over.

Good luck, and well done for raising the grievance - you'll probably find that lots of people feel the same way, but are too scared to do anything.

chocolatekimmy Sun 17-Jun-07 21:51:10

Glad theres been some more responses - thank you.

I have a small pack of notes with info and phrases I think I should use as well as an almost 2 year history of issues in the past and notes from meetings I have had before. He can't manage a team to save his life basically. I like the idea of a large file with those headings on labels

Large organisation - amongst the top 5 supermarkets in the UK!

Basically my boss lied to me about something recently. He approached me with an issue about one of my benefits and made out he had only found out there could be a problem 2 days before and had very little info plus no one else knew about it. Turns out he knew about it 6 weeks ago, several others also know and have even had meetings to discuss the approach and how to handle it etc and that he knew loads more than he made out! I wouldn't have had a problem if he had told me all that at the first meeting. He basically told me my discount card may be being used fraudulently in another part of the country. My immediate concern was that it was a set up, his timing was appalling too. Told me 15 minutes before I was due to finish for the week (no offer of support or rep), mentioned fraud too. Also 2 days after I had told him I had been diagnosed with stress a few months ago. Then he didn't get back to me for 4 days with any answers! Livid about the whole thing, really upset and I do not trust him. Why lie to me about that, he could have told me that he had known for ages but waited until I got back from maternity and that others were aware - I wouldn't have even raised an eyebrow at that. Looks like identity theft now I know fuller information.

Really this is the final straw for me, having come back after a year off to all this and much worse in terms of the state of the department.

I am just so scared that this will tip me over the edge and into depression. Can cope with stress but don't want to go back down the depression road again on the back of work! You guys do all help me feel stronger though so thank you all again

squiffy Sun 17-Jun-07 23:28:59

It is horribly stressful I know (I've done it twice). Try to remember though that had you NOT done anything the long-term damage to your health and self-esteem would be much worse.

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