People choose the type of company they want to work for, some like large companies; others prefer small micro-businesses. Emtech was a micro-business that had a focus on customer services. We supported one another, and working was a joy. Emma and the housekeeper provided our lunches. At 12.30 – 1 pm, Suzie would bring in a hot lunch for us.
The sale of Emtech to Chubb meant we were now part of a much larger organisation that focused on money first and then customer services. When there is an acquisition, staff need reassurance that their lives and jobs will not change. That transition needs to be gentle, supportive and assurances given at every stage. Although we had confirmation that our jobs would be safe for a year, we were still concerned about our jobs. About the work we were going to do and what our working environment would be.
On The Farm
Chubb had agreed with Emma that Emtech would stay on Emma’s farm for a year to ensure consistency for staff and our clients. The clients were just as worried about the merger. Most of the clients worked with us because we were small and could give them personalised service and had the flexibility to be adaptable at a moment’s notice. Now they were contracted with a large organisation where they could get lost. Staying at the same address was paramount for that consistency of service and staff morale. Large companies are very adept at playing the long game.
Chubbs’ focus from the first day they acquired us was about money. The weekly invoice amount. The amount of money owed to the company. The introduction of cross-selling and upselling our existing clients.
An introduction to bullying in the workplace
With introducing our new line manager, I was introduced to the first concepts of bullying in the Workplace.
To be fair and open, I need to say that I would give as good as I got. My new line manager and I fought over everything. My attitude was that this new line manager was just the Chubb liaison officer, and I ran the company. I had been running the company for 18 months as the owner had been off sick. I didn’t want the company to change, and it was my baby. It took a long time to realise that I was just an employee, and the company didn’t care if I was there or not.
Bullying in the workplace starts with those brief comments you don’t think about; they are said in passing. Small phrases like:
- Oh, I expected more from you.
- If that report is still not done, I can get someone else to do it if you can’t.
- You haven’t done that yet. Is it out of your expertise? Should I get someone else to do it?
- Sorry, I thought it was a task that would suit your skills. I was mistaken.
These statements all put an expectation on you. They give you a small compliment and then take it ways instantly, leaving you to feel that you have let yourself and them down. You question your ability to do your job correctly. You question your ability. These types of statements are damaging, and if you get enough of them, they chip away at your confidence. My bullying started like this.
Another nail in the coffin – or Bullying in the Workplace
I knew I could do my job as I had been at Emtech for many years. I ran the company when Emma was sick. However, suddenly I doubted myself. I was double-checking my actions and workload. Then I came to work earlier to get caught up. Leaving a little later to make sure “everything was done” correctly.
My bullying started with my line manager and Chubb. I didn’t realise I was being bullied. I didn’t recognise it as it had never happened to me before. It started so slowly that it wasn’t until I was made redundant that I realised it for what it was.
What I learnt about writing my memoirs
- I didn’t expect to talk about a previous job doing these memoirs
- Bullying starts covertly, and you may not recognise it at the start
- Throw away comments are not always as innocent as they appear
- Here is the start of this series of videos about bullying in the workplace