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This is a nightmare! Please, please advise...

(11 Posts)
BiancaJackson Tue 29-Sep-09 16:11:14

I could seriously do with some advice. This may turn out to be longwinded, but I am genuinely baffled as to what to do about this, and feeling quite stressed about it - so if you have any words of wisdom, please help me!

I left a job I had been in for 4 years in 2006, shortly after returning from maternity leave with my first child. On my return I had a pretty horrid situation with the girl who had done my job in my absence. She was a junior member of staff who had 'acted up' as me while I was away (for a year) and didn?t take kindly to my return and her subsequent demotion. In a nutshell, she behaved completely unprofessionally (shockingly so, actually) and made my life a misery for several months.

I went through all the normal channels to try to resolve this at the time - talking to her, talking to my boss, mediation etc - but my boss (let's call him A) was extremely unsupportive. It sounds crazy, and I could never quite put my finger on it, but I had always felt like A disliked me but sort of fancied me at the same time!?. Nothing explicit, but this was the impression I got over a number of years (he had been a senior manager, although not my line manager, in a job I had had previously in another department of the same organisation, going back to 2000/1, and I'm pretty sure he fancied me back in those days...). Anyway, he basically shafted me over this situation, told me to 'get on with it' and ignored my requests that this girl be dealt with for her outrageous behaviour. In the end, I had to go to HR and make the complaint formal, both aaginst this girl and against him. One of the things this girl said, which came out in my statement for HR, was that she refused to listen to directions I gave her which came from another one of the line managers (let's call her B) because 'B is only in her job because she shagged A'. I agonised over whether or not to include this in my conversations with HR, but it was one of a catalogue of unprofessional things this girl said, so I felt like my hands were tied and I had to press home just how terrible she was). I never spoke explicitly to manager A about this in the end (we werent allowed to discuss the situation alone once HR came on board) but the vibe was even worse from then on. It was a short lived situation in the end, as when HR started talking about me going for constructive dismissal etc, I decided to hand in my notice. The organisation I was at is a big organisation and one that I really didn't want to burn my bridges wioth in terms of future employment. So, I left a job I loved and was really cut about it for some months. Not good.

Fast forward to this year (I have been at home as a SAHM and doing lots of freelance work since all this happened). A job came up at the same organisation, in a completely different department, that had my name on it. I applied and got it. I've been here for 5 mths now and am absolutely loving it, but unfortunately, my position isn't funded beyond the 6 mth contract, so I have had to start looking at other jobs. Another job recently came up, back in my old department but in a different role and, I assumed, not working directly with my old manager A. Found out today I have been shortlisted and lo and behold - A is interviewing me, along with another member of management I don't know. I am a) gutted, as I am pretty sure Iwont get the job now, b) terrified - sure A is going to make this as hellish an experience as possible for me as 'payback', and c) totally in two minds about whether I should even go to the interview or not. I am also slightly concerned that manager A, who I don't think is going to be my line manager in the role (pretty sure - he works ina different area) is interviewing me. I get the feeling he saw my name and decided he'd be the one to interview me. This could just be paranoia, but heis a very powerful man and very wily, so not totally unthinkable. I am also starting to wonder whether I really want to go back to a dept where thisman has power. But at the same time, the job is a dream job, more money, more senior and I could totally do it in my sleep.

If you have got this far, WELL DONE and THANK YOU. Now tell me, oh wise ones, what should I do?

GrapefruitMoon Tue 29-Sep-09 16:17:23

I think you need to talk to directly to HR and tell them you don't think it would be very professional for this man to interview you, given the past history. (It's very possible they are unaware of it.) If he would not be your line manager in the new role it should not be a problem to find someone else to do the interview.

BiancaJackson Tue 29-Sep-09 20:07:48

Thanks Grapefruit.

Bump for more responses?

Spoke to HR in confidence today and the recruitment woman said there was 'no way he could make this an issue openly' and that the other person on the interview panel would be my line manager were I to get this job and 'has more sway' in deciding who gets the job. She thought I would be 'crazy' not to go for it and that I should go along, act professionally and be confident that he would too. Hmmm.

Also spoke to two ex colleagues who I worked with (under the same boss) who think I should definitely go for it and completely ignore what happened before.

Any more for any more?

StillSquiffy Tue 29-Sep-09 20:29:10

BJ - he has more to lose by being unprofessional than anyone else has. I think he will know not to risk getting his fingers burnt again - HR issues are often blots to the file of the managers who failed to resolve them or inflamed them, no matter what the outcome. It is not worth it for him to do anything.

Chances are that (A) he genuinely can't get out of interviewing you (or it hasn't occurred to him to do so), (B) he thinks it is all water under bridge and is probably looking forward to seeing how you are, whether you've still got the career spirit in you, etc etc, or (C) he is s**g bricks and hoping he can actually swing things your way as a means of making amends for the previous mess.

And if he does make it difficult for you, he himself will end up in the soup big time, esp as you have already given HR the thumbs up.

You are in the driving seat here - go get your job.

BiancaJackson Tue 29-Sep-09 20:43:20

Thank you, Squiffy <offers un-MNly hug>

The more I think about it the more I am convinced I just need to bowl in there, smile and be polite (and confident and sparkly etc) and give a great interview. Even if I don;'t get the job, at least he will see that I have got spunk and have done well since leaving the company wink

Phew. Just swotting up on possible interview questions at the moment. Stomach in knots. Argh! shock grin

flowerybeanbag Tue 29-Sep-09 20:44:13

I highly doubt he's actively decided that he should interview you after seeing your name on a list. I imagine he is interviewing all candidates.

The recruitment woman's advice sounds good.

I don't think he'll make the experience hellish for you, he's not really in a position to do that. However as he is on the panel, albeit not as the main recruiting manager, he will have some sway so if he doesn't want you back he might try to influence the main recruiting manager that way, that's a possibility.

You say 'I am also starting to wonder whether I really want to go back to a dept where this man has power.' I have to say that would be my concern, not how hellish or otherwise the interview might be. To me the decision is primarily do you want to work with this man again, or rather is a 'dream job' enough of a trade-off for working with someone like that. I've been fortunate enough never to work with anyone quite as bad as you describe, but there are a few people I've come across that I certainly wouldn't work with again given the option. Obviously you are in the best place to judge how he is likely to handle the situation once you start work.

With such a long history you will be able to judge whether he can/will let things go or not. He will certainly need to be careful given the history of a formal complaint, but for a someone in a powerful senior position it would be perfectly possible to express his irritation at you without doing anything technically dodgy or worthy of formal complaint.

I don't know. I don't want to come across as negative or put you off at all. I think you should go to the interview, be professional, and see how you feel afterwards. Hopefully his behaviour in the interview will give you an idea as to how it would be day-to-day and enable you to make an informed decision.

TheGoddessBlossom Tue 29-Sep-09 21:00:23

Go for interview. Wow them. Get job. Then decide. Then YOU hold all the power.

BiancaJackson Tue 29-Sep-09 21:09:45

Flowery - the HR woman did assure me that he was interviewing all candidates, so I think that was paranoia on my part.

I am quite torn about working back in this department. In terms of my career, the role is a definite step up and the dept. is a prestigious one within my organisation.
To be honest, I never wanted to leave, but found myself in a situation I didn't know how to deal with (and having only recently returned from maternity leave at the time - and already feeling quite conflicted and lacking in confidence - probably didn't deal with as well as I could have). I wouldnt be working directly underneath this man, but would have some contact with him as part of the role, as it is a training role, coming into contact with a wide range of staff.

On the upside, I feel much calmer and more confident in myself and my ability to deal with difficult work situations these days.

I am under no illusions that if he doesnt want me to have this job, I probably won't get it. He is powerful within the dept. and quite manipulative with it. However, the more I think about it, the more I think I really must go and give a good interview, if only for my own self respect...

BiancaJackson Tue 29-Sep-09 21:10:24

That's the dream scenario Goddess wink

TheGoddessBlossom Tue 29-Sep-09 21:14:34

I'm all about the dream Bianca. grin

But seriously, I don't think that is an outcome that is fantasy. As you say you can do this job in your sleep. As others have said he would be crazy to act anything other than uber professional in any dealings with you whatsover.

I suspect that on the day there would be a barely audible reference from him about "working with you in the past, how are you, how are things?" etc for the benefit of the other interviewers and then he'd act as if nothing had ever happened. As you should unless anything as horrid happens again.

Why the hell should you be done out of a great job you deserve by pricks like the ones you describe?

Go for it.

Now go and post on my thread.

grin

Bloss

xx

kafka Tue 29-Sep-09 22:49:19

Could you go along and act very professional, very friendly and just as if it had never happened (the history). This will be disarming for him and may increase the chances of you getting the job. If you are offered it you can then see how you feel.

I often find that people who are in a difficult return to a work situation which was difficult but has now resolved are anxious e.g. post grievance/mediation. However, often if they put a front on for a few weeks and months after sometime they and the other people involved find this 'moves them all on'.

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