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Author Topic: Job rant. Can't cope with the criticism any more.
Victoria J
Jingle Bell Hock


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I don't know where to start. I will say that I like what I do at work, and I like most of the people I work with. I am right where I want to be, I need the money, and the thought of not being able to continue working here terrifies me. Apologies in advance for length/incoherence.

I have worked here about 20 months. Quite early on I faced some criticism that seemed quite unfair. It was very personal, and not at all constructive. Instead of complaining about anything wrong with my work I was criticised for emotions they thought I had, for being "angry" or "upset" when I wasn't. I asked them to point out to me if at any time I was behaving in a way that caused difficulties for people working with me. That has never happened. My manager tends to begin all criticism with "your a person who..." or similar things, ripping my character to shreds rather than highlighting anything specific I have done wrong. Last week he started suggesting it was a problem that I am attending evening classes outside of working hours (everyone I meet assumes they are supporting me/paying/giving me time off for these classes) though the only difference is that 3 days a week I now leave on time instead of staying late. I can't see how this is any of his business, will he criticise me for spending time with my family next, or having hobbies ? Oh, and he says I'm "too philosophical" - when my degree is in Philosophy.

In my job I deal with many people who are (a) in the middle of crisises, and (b) often come to us because they are not able to express themselves well and sometimes cannot express their unhappiness very appropriately. On top of which I sometimes cannot help people or have to give bad news. This means we face a lot of hostility. I have never had a problem with this, even when I have gone out of my way to help people only be yelled at etc., but it is only possible to manage this if you are backed up by the people you work with/for. My colleagues are supportive but my management is not.

I had a problem with a woman at the door. She said she had an appointment with our Somali worker, when I asked to see her appointment letter she grabbed it from my hand. She refused to answer any other questions and just said "somali" repeatedly. I said I could not let her into the building if she would not talk to me, and went to close the door, and get the somali speaker so that he could confirm whether he had an appointment and let her in. The women pushed the door into me, and then tried to push past me. My manager actually saw her deliberately slam a door into me (the 3rd time !)and just very mildly said "don't do that", he never discussed this with me again, took no action against the woman, the only thing he said was "it's unfortunate, she DID have an appointment", as if I was at fault (though I had never said she didn't, just that I couldn't personally let her in if she would not co-operate with me).

On another occassion I told a client I could not complete a form for him (it is our policy not to do these forms) and he yelled at me, through papers in my face and stormed of calling me (in another language, helpfully a colleague interpreted for me) a whore. The one rule we have posted is that Racist or Sexist abuse is not tolerated, so I thought for once I would be backed up (the other day someone on the phone to one of my colleagues complained about his "African mentality" and my manager has quite rightly written a formal letter to the client about this). Instead the client returned later, was seen by a senior member of staff and has work done which it is our policy not to do, and which I had been told not to do for him.

Those are the only two cases where I think action should have been taken by against the client but there are many many cases where I have faced minor difficulties due to angry clients and have been blamed for it. Even though my colleagues receive support in similar situations.

Then I discovered that the deputy manager was pretending to be my friend but passing on anything negative about me to the manager. He was telling the manager I was stressed, couldn;t cope and got overly upset when I had difficult clients. At the same time he was going to lunch with me and my colleagues and complaining non-stop about how stressed he was and once complained for 2 whole days about how upset he was because he received a slightly critical evaluation form from a client. Then he told the manager I had snapped at a colleague, without telling him that I had apologised 5 seconds later.

In the middle of this I did get stressed and unhappy and fell behind with my work, and I did something very bad and very serious - losing some files and not completing work. I have been disciplined, have a formal warning and am lucky I kept my job.

I have had no support, no assistance, only criticism. He only speaks to me to blame me for things, and he chooses this naturally combative way to discuss issues. I have had no chance to talk about my concerns, or to have a more neutral discussion, and have not even had a yearly appraisal which is required by the organisation. The only time he ever says anything good about my work is when he has just criticised something else about my work, even though it was clear at the disciplinary that the reason I kept my job is because I am extremely good at most of the things I do.

They suspended me with pay for 2 weeks during the disciplinary but when I wanted a box of treasury tags so I could do my files at my desk I was refused. Similarly my manager has now arranged a formal meeting because I provided some files to me late, but did not take the 30 seconds to provide me with the list of the files he wanted when I asked earlier... They will not prioritise dealing with a computer problem I have had that has lead to me losing work and struggling to find the time to redo it.

I am now due in a semi-formal meeting this afternoon (my union can't understand it - is it formal ? Is it not ? nobody knows). Complaints are that while I was off sick with the flu (a) I was late returning files - which is exagerated, and mitigated by the fact he wouldn't give me a list so I could do so (b) that they couldn't find one of my files and assumed I hadn't done the work even though the work was on the computer and had been received by the third party who they phoned (?), (c) That one file wasn;t written up, (d) that I was "slightly shrill" when speaking to a senior member of staff who had just shouted at me (and whose own witness statement says she had raised her voice, and I know verbally told the manager she had "yelled"), (e) a complaint from a colleague because I said something she had done was "a bit rotten" (not great in retrospect, I was trying to be light about something I was very angry about - which is the fact that she is the one person who does not work as part of a team, and who leaves us doing extra work to cover for her). But it is not exactly inflammatory or NSFW language, it just makes me sound oddly like a 1930's school boy.

I have just decided to make a formal complaint but I didn;t want someone who takes out grievances. But my manager will not otherwise listen to me, and I need to have some record of what they are doing to me. On the other hand I dodn't have time to record everything...it would take days to write out a full complaint I think.

I have felt sick for 2 weeks waiting for this meeting, and have been going home and crying. I can't cope if they keep doing this to me.

(And then he suprises me and while I have been sneakily typing this he phoned me to give me a nice piece of social policy work writing to our member of parliament to raise an issue).

Victoria J

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Friends of Alfred
The First USA Noel


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First off, bring an Union rep, or a colleague you trust to this afternoons meeting. Insist on a written record being kept, and challange anything on the written record that does not reflect what was said in the meeting.

Next, keep a written record of every instance of negativite or bullying behaviour.

Contact you HR representative and ask for a meeting. Discuss your concerns, insist on confidentiality, and ask for minutes to be kept. Should the bullying continue, demand a formal hearing to raise your concerns. Tell HR firmly but politely that you are not prepared to be bullied, and are prepared to take whatever action is required.

It sounds like you work for a government organisation of some sort, and I doubt if the Senior Management want a tribunal on their hands for a constructive dismissal.

Also, if you know any lawyers, speak to them about constructive dismissal law.

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Faith
Happy Holly Days


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Victoria,

That's shocking. Take your Union Rep to this "semi-formal" meeting and all future meetings - I can't sresss this strongly enough. Frankly, I think it sounds like a case of Constructive Dismassal. I hope you azre taking Union advice at every turn.

Good luck.

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"You watched it. You can't UNWATCH it."

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Victoria J
Jingle Bell Hock


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Thanks.

Sadly it is not a meeting where I have the right to take a Union Representative (I asked). The upside is that it is also not a meeting which can lead to formal disciplinary action, but I imagine they will be keeping the notes on my file so that they can be used against me in the future if they want to.

I have only just started talking to the Union, and thye were shocked too.

I work for a small charity, which means I have my manager, and above him there is only a trustee board (who do become involved if a formal grievance is made). No HR department etc.

I don't really want to think about constructive dismissal. I want to be able to do the job I love and feel is a perfect match for me.

If it doesn't get better I am well placed to get employment advice. I actually give some basic employment advice, I have access to an employment consultancy service (If I said the problem was someone elses, at another employer) and know who the good solicitors in the area are.

Why are organisations in the voluntary sector so bad to work for ? They have dedicated staff who normally are happy to work long hours for less money than they could get else where because they are genuinely dedicated - and in return huge numbers of charities ect. treat their workers like dirt, ignore employment law, think that because they are by definition "good guys" the rules don't apply to them...

Victoria J

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Faith
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by Victoria J:
Thanks.

Sadly it is not a meeting where I have the right to take a Union Representative (I asked). Victoria J

Who did you ask? Did your Union confirm they weren't allowed to attend? Failing that, get a colleague and if THAT fails, write up your own minutes following the meeting and get your bosses to sign it as an accurate version of what has just transpired.

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"You watched it. You can't UNWATCH it."

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Victoria J
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by Faith:
Who did you ask? Did your Union confirm they weren't allowed to attend? Failing that, get a colleague and if THAT fails, write up your own minutes following the meeting and get your bosses to sign it as an accurate version of what has just transpired.

I asked the union. Unlike a proper formal meeting I have no right to take anyone in with me.

The person who normally takes minutes for the board is coming in to take the minutes. I have no reason to believe that they won't be accurate, if I have any problem with them I will just follow it up in writing.

I don't think I can take minutes and make the points I need to and not break down and just wail loudly.

Victoria J

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Jocko's Jolly
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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Victoria, I'm not familiar with employment laws in the UK, but I have had some experience as a legal secretary for US lawyers in employment law. This is rather long, but I wanted to give you as much detail as possible.

First, you need to sit down AT HOME (you don't want to be working on this sort of thing in the office where someone might come across a copy and use it against you) as soon as possible and write down everything that you can remember that has transpired between you and your manager and you and the deputy manager as well as any incidents between you and your colleagues which has been referred to by your manager. You need to take notes about these interactions that are as complete and as accurate as you can recall, including names, dates, witnesses (if any) and what was said. Keeping such notes in chronological order is usually the easiest way to do it.

Going forward from this point, every day take time at home to write down any such events that occurred that day. Writing it down daily will make the notes as accurate as possible (it's also a good way to work through the stress).

I would second (or third or whatever) the advice that you have your Union Rep or a colleague attend the meeting with you, if possible. Fire off an immediate memo to whoever it is who has called the meeting (is it your manager or someone from the Trustees?) informing them that you will be bringing this person with you and demand that they inform you IN WRITING if this person will not be admitted to the meeting and that they provide the reason why not.

Make sure before you go into the meeting that you have the names and telephone numbers of a Union Rep (if the Rep isn't allowed into the meeting) AND a lawyer who will be available by telephone during the meeting in case you have any questions.

Take time (at home, if possible, where you'll be less hectic and distracted) to jot down points you want to bring up at the meeting -- the manager's negativity, specific instances of client misbehavior that you feel was not addressed, etc. This will give you something to refer to during the meeting and should help you to stay on topic and not get as emotional. This will also show the other attendees that you take this matter seriously and puts them in a defensive position.

State first thing at the meeting that you assume minutes will be taken and that you want to be provided with a copy of the minutes to review when they are typed up. You should actually say, firmly and calmly, "I assume minutes are being taken of this meeting?" When they respond affirmatively, then say, "I expect to receive a copy of those minutes, then." Don't ask for the copy, state it. If they say that it's just an informal meeting, no minutes will be taken ("Minutes? We don't need no stinkin' minutes!"), then tell them that you expect to receive copies if minutes or memos are subsequently generated.

If they ask you to sign anything at the meeting, tell them that you will take a copy of the document and review it with your Union Rep and/or lawyer get back to them. Same thing if they are pressuring you to agree to something that you feel is illegal, immoral or against company policy. If they threaten to fire you unless you do so, ask to use the telephone so that you may call your Union Rep and/or lawyer (make sure you have their telephone numbers with you). Then follow the advice the Rep/lawyer gives you.

I doubt it will get to that point, I think your manager is the bullying type who, for whatever reason, wants to make you fold and quit. Perhaps he gets his jollies this way or perhaps he has someone else he wants to hire for your position. He obviously can't fire you on overall job performance, so he's finding picky things to rattle you with (is that what is meant by "constructive dismissal"?). So far, he's been successful. You need to show him that you can't be bullied out of the job, he's going to have to either follow the rules and back off or break the rules and suffer the consequences. I have a feeling that, like most bullies, once you stand up for yourself and show you won't back down any more, he'll back off.

Immediately after the meeting find a quiet spot to sit down and write a summary of the meeting's points, whether or not you agree with them, what discussion occurred and what, if any, resolutions were made (i.e., if you told them you want more backing from your manager when dealing with confrontational clients and the manager promised to do so; or if they said they want you to do xyz when dealing with clients and you agreed to do so; or if they said they want you to do whatever the client asks and you didn't agree to do this and state in the memo why you don't agree to this request). Then generate a memo from you to the person who called the meeting summarizing the discussion and the action points (the things you and/or they agreed to do).

Remind them in the memo that you requested a copy of the minutes. If they said at the meeting that minutes would not be taken, state that in your memo also. And reiterate that if any minutes or action plans are developed as a result of the meeting, you would like to receive a copy of them. Don't wait for their copy of the minutes to send the memo.

Copy every attendee on the memo (you don't need to copy the person who ttok the minutes, if that was his/her only function at the meeting).

Finally, once you do receive a copy of the minutes, review them along with your summary memo. If there are any discrepancies, write another memo pointing out the discrepancies.

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Victoria J
Jingle Bell Hock


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Thanks Jocko.

I went to the meeting yesterday. Minutes were taken. I am going to add a couple of things in a note to my manager that I forgot to say, and I will check the minutes and write with any discrepancies. (There seemed to be very few notes for the amount of talking I did, but I wasn't close enough to the minute takers pad to see if they were using proper shorthand). I certainly won't sign anything without union advice.

Highlights of the meeting were (1) my manager saying that one outcome would be to recommend a disciplinary hearing when he had previously told me that could not happen. He eventually apologised for this, but couldn't understand why I thought that was a big deal. He just said "well I don't intend to do that" as if that was the point. (2) He asked again whether doing an evening class had led to problems at work, and when I said that I thought that was quite innapropriate for him to be asking about things I do outside of working hours he just kept asking. I think I said 3 times that I found it inappropriate, finally saying that I had already said "No" to the question and that I had no intention of justifying what I do in my free time in any detail. (3)When I asked why I had to attend a meeting and have notes in my file about an incident where a senior member of staff yelled at me, and following that all I did was "sound a bit shrill", and say something they didn't like but was in no way actually inappropriate, I also asked if the senior member of staff had to attend a meeting and have notes on HER file. He just said no as if this was quite reasonable. When I asked why he said "sometimes when I talk to you I find I'm raising my voice" ! I can only assume he believes that I am such an annoying and terrible person it is alright for people to shout at me.

I am going to put in a formal grievance. About this and a whole lot more, but I want to at least ask if these notes can be removed from my file. I think the whole meeting was unfair and record of it should be removed but I'd settle for all reference to my evening course, and the "incident" with the senior manager being removed. I have to at least fight. Plus if the manager is going around putting negative stuff about me on record I need to record my side of things formally.

The really horrible thing is I don't think he is deliberately trying to get rid of me or make me quit. His deputy has done some things that are quite sneaky and deliberate but I don't think the manager has. He just seems to have such a terrible opinion of me that he interprets everything I do in the worst possible way and judges me much more harshly than everyone else. Whenever I point out how other people do not get judged for similar behaviour he says that this is because their are lots of other incidents with me, but then he can't actually point to these "other" incidents ...

I am particularly angry about him criticising my evening class because I started it because he has systematically removed my job satisfaction, and any sense that I can be proud of my work. I do the course to get that back and feel better about myself. While the course has not impacted on my work in anyway I missed my seminar last night because I didn't think I could go anywhere after work because I couldn't trust that I wouldn't just burst into tears in front of people.

I have just started writing things down, but I am not sure I can cope with continuing to do so. I find it hard enough to cope at work at the moment, and now I am having to go home and spend time dwelling on all the awful bits.

The only thing that is getting me through the day at the moment is sheer anger and absolute determination that I will not be bullied by them.

Victoria J

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glisp42
I'm Dreaming Of A White iPod


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This has mad me so angry on your behalf that I can't see straight. I boiled it down to a few points:

1)Your boss has bullied you down to the point that you can't stand to do a job that you once loved

2)Not content with that, he has gone on to try remove any joy you have in your personal life

3)He has threatened disciplinary action to try and keep you intimidated.

He is a USDA Grade AA stand up tall asshole.

Jocko is right, you need to keep notes on absolutely everything he says to you.

I don't know about laws in the UK but is there a way that you can insist on having a formal hearing with a rep? Because honestly I think that would be a lot better than any more of these private chats.

A formal grievance is a great idea.

I'll be pulling for you and don't let the bastards get ya down

glisp42

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Mosherette
Deck the Malls


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Constructive dismissal

Victoria, I have no advice to offer because this is beyond my area of experience or expertise. But I am thinking of you, for what that is worth.

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Silence should never under any circumstances be construed as agreement. A lot of the time, it's simply a reflection that someone just said something so stupid that no response could possibly do it justice. - Ramblin' Dave

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Troberg
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
I have just started writing things down, but I am not sure I can cope with continuing to do so. I find it hard enough to cope at work at the moment, and now I am having to go home and spend time dwelling on all the awful bits.
Keep writing it down, it actually feels better, at least it did for me in a similar situation.

Eventually, I even posted some of it in an article on the internet (in Swedish, so unless someone is interested I won't bother to link or translate), but that's certainly not for everybody and for all situations, and you really have to tiptoe around some possible legal complications. In my case, I was lucky, as the offending person was a consultant, so I could happily criticize him using his name but making it clear that I referred to the "consultant product" of that name. Now, if I could only get google to rank it higher when his name is searched...

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/Troberg

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Purple Iguana
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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I agree with what the other posters have said. Document, document, document. Not only what happens to you, but also the similar situations experienced by coworkers where they were supported but you were criticized. And the whole semi-formal thing seems to me to have been done for the express purpose of excluding your union rep--like some businesses here in the States that work employees just under 40 hours/week so that they don't have to provide benefits. I'd look for another job too... but then my own tolerance for bullshit is pretty low. [Wink]

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TurquoiseGirl
The "Was on Sale" Song


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Victoria, I have no other advice to add, but it absolutely stinks that this is happening to you. Reading about it made me want to cry. I cannot imagine how you must feel.

Take care!

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ChelleGame
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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I would get in writing that they would not allow your union rep so that later, if it was determined they should have been there, you can prove you were denied this.

It's tough at a job when people decide to have it in for you -- at that point they make issues of things that they would let slide with others, and put the worst spin on everything. It sounds like that's where you're at in this, and my sympathies are with you.

Everybody makes mistakes in the workplace, or makes judgement calls that can be second guessed later on. In most cases, if we're lucky, our co-workers and bosses will support us, or educate appropriately.

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Michelle

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Tantei Kijo
The First USA Noel


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Wait, was this the place with the dead mouse? And the bosses not doing anything about the deplorable cleaning? If so, has that changed? And if my recall is correct your bosses have already proven themselves to be jackasses. Good luck with this latest problem.

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Victoria J
Jingle Bell Hock


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Thank you for the support and sympathy. This has actually gone some way to cheering me up a bit.

Mostly I have got over the miseries and am back to feeling angry - and at least I function a lot better when I am burning with anger.If they do want to get rid of me they better be prepared for a fight.

I am also somewhat concerned that one of my colleagues is having a breakdown (just much more quietly than I am), and that part of this is partly because she doesn't feel comfortable there because of how they have treated me. She feels she can't trust people who behave like that. And then she is the closest person to me there, and gets the main part of my unhappiness. I don't want to be part of the the pressure on her. She just seems like a different person to the women who started work 1 year ago, and I am become very worried about her.

quote:
Originally posted by Tantei Kijo:
Wait, was this the place with the dead mouse? And the bosses not doing anything about the deplorable cleaning? If so, has that changed? And if my recall is correct your bosses have already proven themselves to be jackasses. Good luck with this latest problem.

Same place. That room is actually rather cleaner, but only because we have lost the key and the cleaner now has no excuse for not going in there... [Roll Eyes]

Victoria J

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