Ask James Caan 7th March 2011
This week, James discusses bullying in the workplace and steps to on how to make your case.
Last week’s column certainly highlighted the issues facing senior-level candidates, particularly just how frustrating it can be to be told to exclude some of your best achievements from your CV to secure a lower level role. I hope readers benefit from the feedback and can apply it to their job searching activity.
This week I’d like to explore the unfortunate issue of workplace bullying, and what steps should be taken to develop a harmonious working environment.
Peter, a publishing industry professional, wrote to me telling me of the issues he’s been having with his manager. He told me that after a job function change a few years ago, he came under a new boss who, ever since, has made his job unbearable.
One example is after a few slip ups, Peter was put on an unofficial performance review. The estimated time spent on this review, however, was around three years; and the manner it was dealt with was incredibly unprofessional.
As a result, the manager’s frosty reception towards Peter has made him request voluntary redundancy (in which he was turned down), consider moving departments and ask to work from home. He’s come to me asking how long he should endure the situation or should he throw in the towel and seemingly, let someone else win?
Peter, bullying can manifest itself in a number of ways, and it can affect productivity, morale and retention, especially if it’s not dealt with straight away.
From reading your letter I can see you requested voluntary redundancy, only to be rejected because you’re too valuable to lose. This speaks volumes: the company is obviously protecting its assets, and perhaps it should be time for them to realise just how unhappy you are.
If you’re happy with your job function and the company, you need to start taking steps to tackle the situation head on. The job you really need right now is the job you are in, but the difference is that you are going to transform its potential.
What steps have you taken to tackle the situation? Have you requested a meeting with your HR department or even the manager themselves? I realise it’s an extremely delicate situation, and I’m amazed that it has gone on for so long, but you need to try and take action.
You shouldn’t dread going into work. I’d request a meeting with your manager to find the reasons why your relationship isn’t working. Ensure there’s a representative from the HR department, and talk through your issues.
Communication is so important, and will play a key role in confronting your manager. They may not even realise what effect their behaviour is having on your work life, or they may not have received adequate training to deal with team issues. But until you request a meeting, you won’t know.
Some people suggest keeping a diary of all incidents to recall – this is a good way to make your case credible. Another idea would be to ask others in your team for their opinion – it will help you to gauge the situation.
If your meeting doesn’t help the situation, why not consider the department changes. Don’t view it as letting your manager ‘win’ – you will have brought the issue to the attention of the management team.
Overall, it’s down to you to realise the potential of the situation. Your manager should know it’s hard to keep good workers and their professionalism will be tested.
I’d be very interested in hearing from people in a similar situation, and how they’ve dealt with it.
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