Bullying in the workplace and micro-management may seem a strange topic to talk about here. But today I was asked today if I would attend “A Round Table”, a discussion on the behaviour of somebody in the workplace. There would only be three of us on this round table. It got me thinking about my previous job. I was the operations manager in a small division of Chubb Fire. The company within Chubb Fire was called Emtech. I loved working for Emtech when I first started. I worked for a lady called Emma who set the company up, and we worked out of her dining room and later a purpose-built office. The ethos of myPA comes from Emtech. Emma sold the company to Chubb Fire as she wanted to concentrate on other projects.
When I first joined Emtech, I asked Emma if she ever sold the company; to tell me so that I could decide if I would stay or look for another job. She made the promise that she would do so.
I worked for Emtech for about six years when I noticed that a few odd things were going on in the office. For example, paperwork was disappearing and then reappearing mysteriously. We were going through reams of paper, and printers were running out of ink. The office always appeared to have been opened than unusual. Small tiny things that you could put down to being tired or forgetfully.
In April, I picked up the phone to call Emma as I was worried about her. Emma would pass out for no reason. I picked up the phone and called her mobile number, and something inside me told me to put the phone down. For the first time, I knew I had to put the phone down. It later transpired that the moment I picked up the phone to call her, she signed the contract with Chubb Fire to sell the company without my knowledge.
There had been someone else in the office in the mornings and the evenings. It was the housekeeper, Emma’s husband, and Emma. They were photocopying various documents, making sure that the paperwork and contracts and client contact details were all in order and ready for the sale. They were doing due diligence.
Emma told me two days before the sale that she would never sell the business. It was her baby, and she would protect it as much as she could. Oh, what a fool I was!
On Sunday at 2:00 pm, I got a call from Emma, and she asked me to come to the office; as a matter of urgency. The office was a barn next to her home. She needed to talk to me. Being worried about her, so I went to the office. I found her in the garden drinking a glass of Pimm’s, and she invited me over. We sat down on the grass; she gave me a glass of Pimm’s. Her opening line to me was, “your job is safe for a year”. She then proceeded to tell me she’d sold the company to Chubb Fire.
I asked her why she hadn’t told me and reminded her of her promise. She replied that if I found out beforehand, she would have to give a large amount of money back to Chubb Fire. I was upset at this, and Emma then replied, “I don’t know why you’re crying. It doesn’t affect you”.
On Monday, I arrived at the office to find three representatives from Chubb Fire already there. They told us that our jobs were safe, they now owned Emtech, and if they needed any information, they would ask. Our new manager will appear in a few days as he is on holiday.
The start of being bulled in the workplace
The manager arrived, and it was a complete and utter disaster from start to finish. I’ve never experienced bullying in the workplace until I’ve met this person. I had never understood how insidious bullying could be, how it starts with such a brief comment, and how it can chip away at your confidence without you even knowing. The following two years with Chubb Fire were pure hell. The reason I’m saying this is that this line manager liked to have round tables. His idea was that we’d all sit around together and discuss issues in an open and frank manner. What this meant, I discovered over time, was that he would get his way. The staff and my manager would team up together and pick on me.
Bullying in the workplace and micro-management an Example
A prime example of this is that this line manager wanted me to micromanage staff. As far as he was concerned, they were not completing their tasks promptly. His idea was that I would go round to each staff member and ask what they were doing. At lunchtime, I would then go back to each member of staff and ask what they had done and what they plan to do in the afternoon. Before going home, I would then go around to each staff member to ask what they did and what they planned to do the next day. I had resisted doing this for three months. I was worn down and agreed to do it.
Within a week, all members of staff requested an open round table with the manager. The members of staff then brought up this micromanagement and said that I was treating them like children. They resented it. The staff resented me. Everyone hated micromanagement. At this open round table, my line manager looked at me and said, “Julie, why are you doing that? We’re all adults here and should be treated like adults”. Flabbergasted was an understatement. I said I was doing what you asked me to do. However, he decided not to hear that comment, as did everyone else.
The set up – Bullying in the Workplace
At the end of the meeting, I requested a quiet word with him in our meeting room and asked what he was playing at. He replied that he needed the staff to buck up their ideas and work harder to finish the work. I repeated my question and asked why he had set me up with the staff and didn’t back me up during our meeting. He answered that it doesn’t matter how we got to this resolution; the staff have agreed to do the backlog of work. They understand the urgency for getting work up to date and billed.
For the first time in my life, I complained to HR about this and a few other bullying tactics this line manager used. I will never do this type of round table again. This style of roundtables is rude, soul-destroying.
What I have learned about Bullying in the workplace and micro-management
- I will not do a roundtable to get staff “to buy into” a project or manipulate them
- Its exhausting to be bullied
- You should never set anybody up at work to get a result