The long term effects of bullying

A long time ago (but obviously not that long as I am still only 24!!) I worked for a small firm in a small HR department.  There was an HR Director, and HR Manager, a Training Advisor and me – HR Advisor and in realistic terms Administrator too.  This was not a huge company but we were very busy.

The HR Director had been with the company for a very long time and at one point was the only HR there was – in her opinion one person could probably do it all by working all the time!   In my eyes she personified all that is wrong with our profession, she was paperwork obsessed (something that I struggle with as I am dyslexic), controlling, micro managed everyone and very very secretive.  Our department was therefore not as open as I felt effect HR support should be.  She actually had a list of people she wanted out of the organisation and work actively seek ways to exit those people – nuff said.

I was at a conference one day when I was urgently called back to the office – very cloak and dagger!  It turned out that there was an investigation for disciplinary action being carried out against me.  What had happened was I had mistakenly picked up a piece of paper regarding staff pay, when taking files from my desk to talk to a manager, and left it on that managers desk.

For clarity I should say that employees at this organisation were not paid to a scale but each individual negotiated their own salary.  It was “forbidden” to discuss pay with a colleague.  Fair enough I made a mistake and fair enough that I was pulled up but the manner in which it was done left me in tears and basically freaked me out.

The investigation showed that this was a one-off and no further action was taken, however I remained really shaken.  Also I felt/knew my cards were marked – I had literally been told I was not good enough.   I got more and more panicked and made more and more silly mistakes – hindered only by my dyslexia – which had not been an issue before (or since) in an Advisors role.   I got really depressed and in the end resigned.  She had got what she wanted – or so it seamed to me.

I am pleased I don’t work in that sort of environment any more, I now work for a great company where we are encouraged to be transparent in all things.  In discussions over management the phase “no surprises” is uttered more times than I’ve had hot dinners.  But that sort of bullying (and it was a sort of bullying) has a lasting effect.  Whenever I am called for a formal meeting with my manager or director I get that same knot in my stomach.  Performance reviews are very stressful as I am secretly worried that I am going to be told that I am just not good enough again.

So now that I am arranging my next performance review, with my lovely boss, I will try to go into it positively and let go of the daemons.   After jkf years its time to let go.

So tell me, what experience have you had of bullying and how do you cope with the aftermath?


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