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Traumatised after a nasty experience at work

(11 Posts)
Mongui Thu 31-Jan-19 16:11:12

Hi lovely people. I was pushed out of my job and I am struggling to forget the nightmare, discriminatory and unfair treatment I was subject to and move on. This is what happened to me.

I have been in the same company for 10 years, progressing well and feeling appreciated. I really liked the job, the company and the people I worked with. But after 10 years I fancy a new challenge. I was offered an opportunity in a much smaller company and I decided to take it. I was so happy, it was going to be a step up in my career.

As soon as I joined the new company I realised that I wasn’t welcomed by the people reporting to me for a very simple reason: they were not promoted to my position and instead my manager decided to recruit from outside and hired me to manage them. That said, I went out of my way to gain the trust of my team and after a few months they relaxed and they seemed happy with me. There was a lovely lady who was particularly hard to manage at the beginning because she would have been the obvious candidate to be promoted to my position. But as time went by, she stop seeing me as “the enemy”. In fact, she realised I was there to help her and we were both delighted with each other. We got on really well and my manager was ever so pleased.

At some point this lady told me that she had a health problem. Without going into the detail, it genuinely sounded as if she was struggling. I told her that I would speak to HR and that they would refer her to an occupational health therapist with whom she could discuss her health problems in confidence. The health therapist would also advised as to how we (as a company) would be able to support her. In the meantime, and to alleviate her stress and pressure, I told her she was very welcome to work from home when needed.

Apart from speaking to HR, I immediately spoke to my manager. I told her that I was worried about this lady and told her what I have agreed regarding a referral to occupational health and in the meantime, working from home a few days to alleviate her stress and symptoms. Much to my surprise, my manager was by no means impressed with me. She told me that I should have not suggested an occupational health therapist because they may suggest flexible arrangements that she was not prepare to provide. As for the working from home, she said that she didn’t want anybody working from home. She said she does work from home because she is in a senior position but the rest of the team (including me) shouldn’t work from home. I was totally shocked, mostly because I took the job on the understanding that I would be able to work from home one day a week. I was also shocked about the fact she openly said that she can work from home but the rest of us cannot. That was bad enough, but it doesn’t finish there…. She told me that the lady reporting to me was a nightmare, that she didn’t trust her and that all she needed was a boyfriend. She even said that "we don’t know what is wrong with her but that perhaps she has HIV". I could not believe what I was hearing. I literally had to ask her to repeat it. I told her that as a manager I owned my team a duty of care and that referring her to occupational health was important. I also told her I was not in the position to assess whether what this lady needed was a boyfriend but even if it was, I wasn’t able to provide one. I didn’t even comment on the HIV, it was so ridiculous. I felt so embarrassed.

Shortly after the above conversation with my manager, she left the company to have a baby. To cover her while on maternity leave, the company contracted someone who was previously in the company for 20 years, left the company to set up his own business, his business went bankrupt and desperately asked the company to hire him again. When he heard there was a need to cover my manager while on maternity leave, he desperately asked if he could cover even on a contractual basis. He came back as a contractor and with a clear objective to get to the top. He was also in a very difficult personal financial position as he lost all his money in his business. I am noting this to provide context.

The guy in question seemed really nice at first. Very charming, relaxed, likeable…. In my first one to one with him I told him about the lady in question and the fact she was struggling. I told him she was so nice a professional and I was worried about her wellbeing. Much to my complete astonishment he said I should get rid of her. He said he didn’t like her, that she didn’t fit, that she was “a lost woman” (how sexist is that???), a bad influence and a toxic person. I remember feeling totally overwhelmed. I could simply not believe the degree of cruelty and unprofessionalism. But to cut a long story short, he managed to move this lady reporting line from me to him and within 2 months, the lady in question was pushed out of the company.

As soon as the lady reporting to me left the company (or was pushed out of the company) he started with me. Up until now my performance has been amazing and I was according to all senior stakeholders (including this guy) “outstanding”. And all in a sudden, the guy told me that I was really bad. This came out of nowhere. I had very positive feedback from the business. He provided me with a number of reasons why my performance was bad. For the purpose of this message, believe me, it was made up, unfair, sexist, misleading and biased. Notwithstanding I tried really hard to address it. I tried the impossible because he clearly did not like me and he was not happy with me, no matter how good I was or how hard I tried to go the extra mile. The business continued to be happy with me but his friends were suddenly very hostile and some of them stopped talking to me for no reason.

The next two months were a nightmare. He started a campaign against me. He was inappropriate, demoralising, he could not leave me alone. Everytime we met there would be a new criticism, nothing was ever to his standards. I was keeping my fingers crossed and looking forward to my manager’s return from maternity leave.

My manager came back and when I spoke to her she said that there has been a change of plans and that the guy who cover her while she was on maternity leave was now permanent and that I would be reporting to him. And two weeks after he was made permanent, he said he was opening a performance development plan and I had a month to improve otherwise I would have to leave on grounds of underperformance. Again, believe me, the performance plan was ridiculous. It was just his opinion about me and over personal issues.
I told him to not bother because I didn’t want to stay. He congratulated me for the decision. I spoke to my manager who was “very very very sorry” but did not think she could do anything. She agreed to payment a small amount of money and I left within a week.

I am now in a much better company. I did not have a problem to find much better jobs. But every day I remember this story, the humiliation, his comments, my female manager letting me down, his campaign against me, my poor colleague who was pushed out. I am traumatised. I am struggling to trust people and I have serious issues with my self-confident.

have you ever experience anything like it? I hope not. It is truly awful.

OP’s posts: |
Auntiepatricia Thu 31-Jan-19 16:16:33

Firstly you don’t owe such weirdos your confidence. You were just unlucky to work with people like that.

Some people might suggest taking them to court but I don’t think you should put yourself through that.

QforCucumber Thu 31-Jan-19 16:26:31

I worked for 4 months before my current role in a small, family run business which operated exactly like the one you describe. If your face didn't fit they had you out, I was the 6th person in my role in as many months. Awful awful place. Owner would decide not to pay overtime to staff if they 'didn't deserve it'

QforCucumber Thu 31-Jan-19 16:27:23

posted to soon, you have moved on and honestly I wouldn't give them another thought. You are well out of the company, it is frustrating that these company's do exist but there isn't a huge amount you can do about them

CallMeRachel Thu 31-Jan-19 16:45:51

I understand as I went through something similar at work last year and I posted about it under a different name.

The toxic domino effect it caused was really, really shocking and people who I believed were my 'friends' at work got roped in and were manipulated against me.

I also still struggle to get past it, the feeling of failing, the dislike and the humiliation.

What I will say though with you is that you sound incredibly sharp and professional.

You possibly do things properly and by the book whereas others take the easy option to get rid of someone rather than deal with costs of support and sick pay etc. Someone like you may be seen as a threat to a bent management as you could whistle blow.

All you can do is move on with your head heal high, you did everything right but you were on a hiding to nothing with corrupt management in charge. At least you can have peace in the knowledge you can sleep with a clear conscience at night 💐

There's so many assholes out there.

Ylvamoon Thu 31-Jan-19 18:43:55

OP - I think you need to look to the now and the future. There is nothing you could have done to change things. This person is vile and unjust, he had a clear agenda of getting did of both of you.
I hope reflecting on things and writing it down will make it better for you. flowers

Mongui Thu 31-Jan-19 21:58:03

Thank you lovely people. Yes, you are right. I have to leave this behind my back. But it has left a scar....
I did consider taking this to Court. I've got in touch with an employment lawyer who said this was a clear case of discrimination. She encouraged me to raise a grievance and I remember spending hours writing the grievance. My lawyer and I planned next steps and I was ready to press on. But just when I was about to send the grievance , I understood I couldn't do it. I thought that life is so short and I did not want to waste more time with these people. I wanted to move on, be happy and find a job where I could be valued, respected and appreciated. I thought about my children and my husband, and the many days I was grumpy and short temper because I was so stressed. Because for so many months I was so absorbed by my problems at work that I was simply not present at home. I was missing what it truly matters in life.
I have promised to myself that if I ever get to a senior position, I will never do to anyone what they did to me.
But every single day I think that life should teach them a lesson. I am not resentful and I do not wish them bad. I don't have time for that. But people like them should not be in senior positions.
I feel sad when I think about my manager, who hired me, went on maternity leave and handed the power to the guy. In her absence, the guy destroyed her team. I was hopeful that once she was back she would take control of the team and would lead. But instead, she turn a blind eye, let him do what he wanted to do, gave him the power to make the decisions and to decide who was in her team and who wasn't. And as unbelievable as it may sound, the guy was less senior than her.
Why women constantly hand over the power to men? Why women don't help each other?

OP’s posts: |
MaverickSnoopy Fri 01-Feb-19 06:25:39

I have been in a similar position, going back nearly 3 years now. It's effected me so much that I no longer have confidence at work. I probably need to do some CBT - might I suggest the same for you?

donajimena Fri 01-Feb-19 06:38:26

I've been in similar situations and even though I know my life is immeasurably better I still get occasional feelings of rage at the injustice! The good news is that over the years they are so buried that its rare that they surface.
CBT is a good idea but I also hope that some of these replies will help you not feel so isolated.
For years I thought it was a fault with me. That I performed badly or I was unlikable. I met a former colleague recently who told me that a guy we worked with had been on a disciplinary hearing for bullying. This was complete and utter bollocks and was proved to be so. I worked with him for years and I don't think I have ever met such a decent hard working man.
The point of this is that there are some really nasty manipulative people in the world of work and I'm glad your new job is working out.

Stormy76 Fri 01-Feb-19 11:35:55

Bullying in the workplace is awful, it’s hard to move on from, over time you will get there.

FMAMMM Sun 03-Feb-19 19:09:39

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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