October 4th, 2012
Let’s Talk with Kalola: Senior Financial Analyst
Let’s Talk with Kalola, where targets can share their experiences with WBI’s blog readers. Here we go!
I am a Senior Financial Analyst for a major health system. My workplace bully story is not just about me, but every single person that has every worked for my insane boss who I will refer to as Sybil because of the multiple personalities she has and how you never quite know which person you are going to be confronted with at any given moment throughout your work day. Since I have worked in my position for the past 6 years everyone has quit and moved on to another position/job either within or outside of the company. I am the only one there now. New employees (on the rare occasion that we fill a position) during my tenure never last a year. I myself have been trying to find a job but cannot secure a position that will meet my salary requirements.
I am single and barely making ends meet now so a pay cut is out of the question, but my mental and physical health is so impaired now that I have decided if I don’t secure employment elsewhere in the next year. I am going to move out of state and go sleep on one of my parent’s couch’s until I find a job there. It’s a humiliating and a hard thing to do at this age (43) but I feel like I have completely loss my mind and my health is diminishing.
The main problem with Sybil is that she is an undercover bully. But Sybil is so insane and can’t contain her outbursts until what she tries so cleverly to hide is very apparent to everyone within the division and everyone talks about what a nightmare she is but nothing has ever been done about her and she has been with the company for almost 30 years and has been in leadership positions in various departments within the division for 20 years or more. She micro-manages to the point where you feel like she is at your desk every 5 minutes breathing down your neck asking where are you on your assignments. While she herself could not adequately complete those projects effectively and as accurately as possible because she lacks the skill set to do so and has never tried to obtain the skills to do so until recently, because it has become very apparent to everyone that my skill set for the job at hand (the basic technical and analytical skills required) for the job outpace hers by a mile. I have become the teacher and set the example as to what a professional report/project should reflect and look like.
Sybil is a tyrant that doesn’t even read the report submitted to her before she starts going off or ranting about where is this, what is this, how come this…when everything she is ranting about is right there in front of her basically blaring off the page/pages but she hasn’t even looked at it yet. Also, she imposes on your personal time. If you want to request time off and not disclose every single aspect of what you will be doing on your time off she will hesitate in granting the request and then actually come over and try to, in a round a bout way ask you why you want the time off and what you will be doing before she lets you have the time off. I learned this within the first few months of employment. But the real problem for me is now in the past 3 years I am the only employee there so I get all of it, there is no one else there to absorb any of it . On top of the work situation, she then tries to be my “personal buddy” because she knows she needs me to do the work and can’t afford to have me (the person carrying the department since I have been there) to leave. This is the only reason it is not as bad for me as it often was for others in the department. If she feels she needs you she is a little less inclined to have those crazy outbursts at you and “tries” to contain them, but as I said she can’t completely contain them because she is nuts and flips out. The sad thing is it has been going on for years, I was told the person I replaced 6 years ago was only there 3 months and that she has a long history of destroying careers. So all of this turn-over under her leadership has been documented over a 15-20 year span and there have been grievances filed in HR and threats of lawsuits but she is still there. And I don’t care what they say she is not that good at her job. What she does is bully every one under her (on the sly of course and tries to act so sweet and coy in front of her superiors) takes credit for the work of those who report to her. And in meetings she’s the one to always forcefully state her opinion. And unfortunately society of people in general can be mesmerized by the loudest most forceful person in the room, because surely if they are that forceful and loud it must be correct…wrong it is not it’s all smoke and mirrors.
In conclusion, the effects on me have been profound. I do not sleep at night. I dread getting up in the morning. I have frequent anxiety attacks at work. Just the thought of having to communicate with Sybil can bring that on. I suffer from severe depression. My blood pressure is high. I feel exhausted all the time. I have developed a speech impediment where I occasionally stutter. My capacity to do my job has been diminished also, as I find it difficult to concentrate, focus and process data because I’m so anxious and upset all the time. Some days I feel nauseated during my commute to work. At the end of each day I feel as if I have been let out of a torture chamber for a few hours only to get nervous about returning in less than 24 hours. I have not personally complained because so many before me have without anything becoming of it and I desperately need my job it’s already a nightmare that would probably only get worse. I did realize that I should be in therapy and I do see a counselor who has referred me to a psychiatrist so I can at least get the meds I need to get some sleep at night. I need a new job that would allow me to pay my bills or I’m on my parent’s couch completely destroyed next year.
I suggest anyone being bullied to seek professional counseling and tell your primary care physician at least what’s going on if your health is affected and above all just try to get out if you can and can afford it. Because it appears that workplace bullying by your boss if you can’t prove they are discriminating against you will go unchecked in most places to date.
Your bully is firmly entrenched with the employer. Undoubtedly, she has cost the employer a great deal of money due to the high turnover of staff alone. Though her reign of terror has been documented for many years, she remains employed. This is unconscionable.
When is it time to throw in the towel and call it quits? A reasonable person reading your story might tell you that it is time to consider quitting the job now. From the workplace stories that “Let’s Talk” receives, there are workers like you who would like to leave the job but seem inclined to stay on despite the abusive work environment that is now affecting their health and well being.
Let’s explore why a bullied worker stays on the job:
Financial Reasons: Probably the number one reason. We need to be able to take care of ourselves. We need a roof over our heads, food to eat, etc., and we must pay the bills. Others may be dependent upon us. The worker has grown accustomed to their take-home salary and job benefits, and believes that they cannot live on a salary less than what they are earning now, and doesn’t want to lose their job benefits. Health issues may make us dependent on the health insurance the employer offers. You may be vested in the employer’s pension plan. Your financial needs for now and in the future weigh heavily on your mind.
Fear: It has been awhile since the worker has put himself/herself out there to look for a job. Unemployment is still high in the community where you live. You personally know other workers who have been unemployed for more than a year. You don’t want to become homeless. The worry—what if I can’t find a job?
I Love My Job: The worker found a job that they enjoy doing but there is the bully or bullies. Why won’t this bully leave me alone so that I can do my job? I love my job.
Tee, let’s look at what you are telling us:
Since you began working for your employer, workers have either transferred out or left the company. New workers don’t stay long. This is a big red flag, with employees coming and going through a revolving door.
Although you would like to leave this job, you have not found a job that meets your salary requirements.
Here is a list of some of the physical and mental effects that you say you have experienced:
- lack of sleep
- anxiety attacks
- high blood pressure
- difficulty concentrating
In your own words, “My capacity to do my job has been diminished also, as I find it difficult to concentrate, focus and process data because I’m so anxious and upset all the time.”
Working in an abusive work environment has not only affected your overall physical health and well being but is now affecting your job performance. How much longer can you survive under the current working conditions before you either have a mental breakdown or the employer lets you go?
You have been seeing a mental health professional who has now referred you to a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication so that you can sleep at night. With your permission, your current mental health professional could consult with your primary doctor who could then prescribe medication, if needed. It is important to let your primary doctor know what is happening to you at work. Make sure you get a thorough health exam.
In a worst case scenario, you have the option of moving in with one of your parents on a temporary basis, however, let’s explore possible options.
1. Emergency Fund. Start saving money to put aside in an emergency fund. This is something that everyone should be doing. As difficult as it may seem especially when many workers are having difficulty making ends meet, try to set aside a portion of your take-home pay for an emergency fund. Take a critical look at your finances to see what you can do without, and what you can cut back on. Having an emergency fund will give you a cushion of relief in times of financial need. Really, even a small amount saved is better than none.
2. Request a Job Transfer. Workers who work for a large employer can apply for a job transfer to another department or job site. Workers can see what is going on around the office. If you see that there is a bully in the office and that there is a higher than normal job turnover rate that is a warning. Before that bully targets you, transfer out. Do not discuss why you are transferring out with anyone. Do not badmouth the department you are now in or badmouth the bully as word will get around, and this could prevent you from being able to transfer out.
3. Look for Another Job. If no job transfer is available, start looking for another job while you still have a job. Keep some vacation time and/or comp time on the books so that you can take time off to fit in a job interview. Do not tell anyone what you are doing. Do not badmouth the employer, department, the bully to anyone while you are job hunting, and especially during a job interview. No one will hire a worker who talks bad about previous employers.
In looking at several websites that had top lists for job searches, the following websites were most frequently mentioned:
An internet search will garner other websites for those looking for jobs or looking for jobs in particular occupations or industries.
4. Job/Career Fairs. http://www.nationalcareerfairs.com/
When attending a job fair, do dress professionally with a résumé in hand. Be prepared as you might get an interview on the spot.
5. Temporary Employment Agencies. Register at a temporary employment agency. Temporary work can sometimes lead to full-time work. You may be substituting for a worker that is on a medical leave, on vacation, or until the employer can find a replacement worker for an open position. Temporary workers are often used when the employer needs extra staff to complete projects or during periods of heavy workloads. Temporary work will help you to maintain your job skills, and/or learn new job skills while on the job. Try a temporary job doing other types of work. It is an opportunity to find work that might be more interesting and/or challenging than the work you have done in the past. Even though the job is a temporary job, treat the job as if it were a full-time regular job. Be professional, and do the very best job that you possibly can do. By doing a great job, an employer may not have a full-time opening right now but may remember that person that did an exceptionally great job for them when they needed temporary help.
6. Network. Tell your family and close friends that you are looking for a job. You may belong to a professional organization or association, and attend meetings of these groups. Tell people that you know that you are looking for a job. Attend local chamber of commerce mixers where local business people meet and mingle and often exchange business cards.
In summary, explore your options. Please know that what has happened to you at this job was beyond your control. Walking out on a job or losing a job isn’t about inadequacy or failure on your part. It is an unfortunate circumstance that now provides an opportunity. It is an opportunity to focus on your future. Be proactive and positive.
Tags: Let's Talk with Kalola
This entry was posted on Thursday, October 4th, 2012 at 1:23 pm and is filed under Let's Talk with Kalola, Target Tale, Tutorials About Bullying. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.