never thought I'd be a victim

Today was vile. The boss situation has come to a head - I was sent home just before 2pm in tears, after an email that sent me panicking. This was followed by a phone call where he threatened me by stating "you don't want to make an enemy of me".

The agency know, they are very shocked - I have a meeting with the boss on Monday and I will have a witness in with me but I think he wants to get rid of me. I'm so scared, angry, hurt, I feel sick. I've not slept properly in 2 weeks, I've been ill because I'm so stressed, I've lost weight (ok, not a bad thing but not the right way) and I just don't know what to do.

If he does fire me, I'm going ahead with the formal complaint - I have the agencies backing.



  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    ((Mimaduck)). That sounds absolutely awful. Do you have other proof of bullying? emails? witnesses etc? It would be a good idea this weekend to write everything down and state what the issue was, when it happened etc. What was in this email that sent you panicking? (could it have been wrongly understood in other circumstances?).

    Who will be in this meeting on Monday? Someone from HR as well? If you can/if you have it - have a read through of your workplace rules and regulations.

    I was close to something similar in my previous job. I wrote everything down and when things started looking 'difficult' - I made a point of ensuring that HR had a copy of the entire documentation of emails/witnesses to bad behaviour etc.

  • I have to write it all down this weekend - he's been clever. Nothing that overtly seems like bullying but its all stacked up.

    the tone of the email, the phone calls to "check up" on me, the way he speaks to me even in front of the office, what he's said...its all just got too much. Not from HR (the tricky bit of being an agency worker) but one of the Ops managers.

    I'm exhausted. Totally exhausted.

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    As you say - it's everything wrapped up together that is the worse thing. You need to be distant from it and not react emotionally (easier said than done).

    I would forget about it tonight. Have a girl's night or laze about in your PJ's and make tonight about you and what makes you feel good (watching movies/going for a run etc). Sit down on Sunday afternoon and think clearly and write everything down as much as you can and if possible get someone to read through it to make sure it makes sense.

    I'm sure that there's other (more qualified/experienced) people on here than me... so they might be able to give you advice about how to handle the meeting. In mine - I did well for the first 10 minutes and then i burst out crying.


  • Oh my mima - that sounds horrible.  I once worked with an evil, scheming, manipulative bitch queen and when I collated my side of the story she'd almost managed to turn everything round to make me look bad.  Having a third party who is objective and impartial in there really helped to balance things out for me.

    It's no comfort I know but the one thing I kept getting told at the time was that you don't have to like the people you work with, you just have to behave as if you do - and that applies to him too!  You have every right to go to work in an adult and civilised place and it sounds like he needs that pointing out.  Good on you for not just putting up with it.  Far too many people in this country put up with bad behaviour and it's not acceptable.

    Make sure you include how the various incidents made you feel at the time - ie humiliated in front of colleagues, belittled, undermined etc as it's not always just the actual incident that counts but the consequence of it.

    Try to balance out what you do this weekend and I know it'll be hard but try to do something to take your mind off it even if just for a few hours - a long walk/run if you can manage it until you're so physically exhausted you'll not have the energy to worry and might even get a bit of decent sleep.

    Good luck with your meeting - let us know how you get on.  Just as you were getting yourself sorted too image


  • So sorry to hear of your troubles. I've been through similar and its very hard. The thing to remember that its how you feel that counts - not what the person intends, so if you view it as bullying then it is.  Don't make excuses for him. Good luck and all the best. 

  • mimaduck - so really sorry - that kind of shit impacts on everything else in your life.  Deep breaths - write it down - then go out and get rat arsed - or just go for a run.  Be kind to yourself (((XXX)))

  • So sorry to hear this mimaduck - are the agency trying to get you something else anyway?

    Its so hard with the job market as it is and I know you were so pleased to get something so soon for it to turn out so crap must be so hard.


  • The agency have been great - she is contacting another job on Monday which is closer to home, permanent and also a PA/Bid writer post. I like the sound of it and fingers crossed they want to see me.

    I'm very scared. Ended up on the phone to my ex/best friend, said what I'd been thinking earlier, that I wanted this to end, that I didn't want to be here, physically and mentally. Its scaring me something silly.

    I've just forced down dinner - I've eaten the grand total of a donut and a tiny lemon tart all day - my appetite has vanished, something I should have realised was a stress reaction. I'm running the York 10k on Sunday and I'm scared I'll fail and not complete it, even though I know I can do it. He's erroded my self confidence, my self belief - everything.

    I'm trying to decide if I am going back on Monday...Mr P said that I can always walk away but I really need the money. I'm going into town tomorrow and asking the pub for my job back...and then I'll try a new cafe that has opened recently too. Anything.


  • I'd agree that getting it down in writing is a good idea but, unlike Emmy, I'd say make a go of it tonight, for no other reason than catharsis.  Everyone's different obviously but I've been in your situation and my way of dealing with it was to get it all out in a fairly rough format (dreadfully emotional and not really appropriate) then sit down again over the weekend before my meeting with a cooler head and go through it a little bit more sensibly.  The result was a fair representation of both the emotional effect of my colleague's behaviour and the professional impact.  For me it was the only way to give my mind peace, because like you, I was absolutely fraught prior to the meeting I had to have.  Strangely though, getting it all down in emotional, followed by less emotional tempering of my document, seemed to make me a little more together during the meeting.

    Hopefully the other post will come to something and you can move on from this horrid sounding person.  Best of luck to you.

  • Hi mima; drop me a line if you want a HR persons point of view if it will help - what I would say is that written evidence trumps everything else due to its impartiality - particularly if you can demonstrate a consistent pattern of poor behaviour on the part of the manager.  If you are able to demonstrate that colleagues were treated differently to you, then you're off to the races.  Drop me a line if you want to chat. For now though, watch a movie and relax - nothing to be done over the weekend that is really going to help your cause a great deal!

  • mimaduck, hope everything goes ok at the meeting, nobody should have to put up with being bullied.

    My only experience of anything similar was with someone who was always finding fault with the work I was doing. The last straw was when we had discussed something, next thing I know they'd gone off to talk to someone about it and when they returned smacked me across the back of the head. I was so shocked I couldn't say anything. Nobody saw it and the next second someone came over and joined the conversation and backed up what I'd told him.

    I was really reluctant to do anything about it but spoke with some friends over the weekend and then went and spoke with HR discretely but didn't make a formal complaint.

    Shortly after that I made a really bad judgement call and was so worried that I contacted HR so that they could tell the project manager. The following Monday I was taken aside by him and told that I should have come to him first if there were a problem so that he could sort it. After that we didn't have any more problems.

  • Mimaduck I'm so sorry to hear what's happening to you.  It's very difficult to confront a bully.  I'm sure you're not the first person he's done this to, and you won't be the last either.

    As you can see from the number of views this thread's had, it's a much more common problem than people realise.  There is help and advice out there from people who have been through it and I hope the link below is of some help.

    Ultimately, remember it's your choice on whether or not you confront him.  I hope you can find the courage to nail the bastard, but you have the option of walking away.  That puts you in control of this situation, even if it doesn't feel as if you are. 

    All the very, very best, and we'll be thinking of you come Monday. 

  • What worries me is how quick people are to form a lynchmob shouting "lets nail the bastard". Advice is useful but the important thing is that things like this are dealt with fairly on both sides. I hope it is. Just balancing the argument a little.
  • The good news is that since the introduction to the Agency Workers Regs in October last year you now have access to grievance procedures that previously excluded agency staff.

    The bad news is that having a bullying and harassment case upheld is extremely difficult - even with written evidence - organisations simply do not like to admit it goes on.

    Some organisations have separate B&H and Grievance procedures. In their B&H policy they may have a disclaimer saying that a manager asking an employee to do something which is within their remit is not bullying...

    The test is whether their actions are reasonable and fair. Do they treat everyone the same?

    The experience and perception of the complainent objectively viewed will determine whether there is a case to answer.

    A word of caution though, these cases can be emotionally draining, very stressful - as you have already found - and rarely have a happy ending.

  • Sorry you're having a tough time, Mima.  Hope you can get it resolved.

    I would take issue with Soup Dragon's view that if a person feels they have been bullied, then they have been - and Muttley's link shows why. 

    Seen this sort of thing at work - accusations of bullying where a manager is simply asking, in a reasonable way, for work to be done.


  • Sorry to hear this - you have my sympathy.

    If you are agency can't they just ask you to leave and avoid this bullying?

    I would just get out of there ASAP.

  • This is a difficult one, one man's performance management is another man's bullying. It's a very close line to follow. You have to ask yourself why is it happening, and have you given reason to doubt either ability, attendance or commitment.

    Very few people are inherently nasty, but this is a particular problem in British industry, I have been in Senior Management for many years and have seen inexperienced managers trying to impress by being overly aggressive. Almost as though it's expected. The likely reason is the Manager's opinion of his/her own performance is not good, and so he/she will over-compensate by acting as the hard liner. One other thing to mention, toughen up! as from the playground upwards Bullies know precisely who to go for, you have to look at the signals you give out.

  • I would have thought the phrase "you don't want to make an enemy of me" constitutes a threat irrespective of what may or may not be an employees perceived shortcomings.

  • Agreed. If you're someone's manager of a fortnight's standing, it's a business relationship. It's as creepy and inappropriate as suggesting they could be a "friend" to you
  • There may be two sides but as BBH said the 'you don't want to make an enemy of me' comment swings it a long way in one direction even without the other side of the story

    Regardless of the outcome mimaduck I would aim to get out whatever changes are made to agency employment regulation agency workes will by some be seen as easy targets with less rights as permenant staff

  • Hash you say a Manager of a Fortnight do you know this to be true, nothing in the thread suggests a length of service, but if that is the case it's very strange indeed.

    No manager has to force someone out after such a short time, they would simply pick up the phone if dissatisfied and say please do not send this person again, any agency that wanted to keep the relationship would simply do this, regardless of the change in law


  • Mimaduck probably best all around to walk away

  • Graham yes to knowing it's a fortnight (or is it a week?). Mima and I natter on another thread.
  • Two weeks!! have to say it appears that either there is a massive problem, however without doubt it's with the Manager, no need or excuse for that behaviour.

    All he/she has to do is speak with the agency and anyone can be removed, without reason, forget the legalities. If he is continuing with the actions mentioned he is either without any understanding or possibly enjoying the issue.

    In this situation I would simply gather information, be polite but factual in meetings or discussions and speak to the agency telling them in the nicest possible way that they had put me in an untenable position, asking them to look urgently into the next possible move.

    The agency (if decent) once in possession of the facts will be morally obliged to find a suitable move, but if you're not careful in how you put it, they could see you as a troublesome appointment. When a suitable move is confirmed I would confront him/her about the behaviour and ask that HR are involved in the discussions. You will not get any recompense as despite what people say about the recent law change being worse for businesses in this case it can be explained away as simply unsuitable, but the behaviour should not go unnoticed and doing this could prevent it happening to others. There is a difference in what the law says and what can happen in reality, but taking control is the best way to exit

  • Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

    ...Thats what my mummy taught me!

    poor little dears image

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    Or as Rhianna says - sticks and stones may break my bones but whips and chains excite me?

    I think Factual is good - to get to the bottom of the situation and clear up the facts of whtat's going on. Mima needs to show her opinion and when the Manager is there he can post his side of the story.

    In a professional environment; using phrases like: you dont want to make an enemy of me - is never appropriate.

  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭

    My advice to anyone who has a problem with a manager (I'm a union rep) is to always email them immediately after a contentious meeting or encounter.

    "Dear John, thank you for the conversation we had just now in the canteen. As I recall, you said that you will do xxxx if I don't do xxxx. Please confirm that this is the case."

    Competent managers, if they've done nothing wrong, will recognize warning signs that they're being misunderstood or manipulated; bullying managers might pause for thought. It also starts an email chain that can be referred to in future if necessary.

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