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How to deal with a bullying colleague?

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  • SparklesJD
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    I used to be a HR manager, although I've been out of the sector for a while, so this isn't based on anything more than my personal views. She sounds like she is bullying you, based on the fact that you are upset by her behaviour. You do not need to explain or apologise for being upset by her behaviour and you are not in any way responsible for her behaviour, although you can choose, as many people have said, how you respond to it.

    The best tip I can give you (apologies if anyone's already suggested this, I had a quick read and didn't see it) is to keep a diary, if you're not already.

    I'm not talking 'War and Peace', just the date, time, anyone else who was there/copied in and a line about what happened i.e. 'X critised my spelling of Y. She made me feel small.'

    This is useful in a lot of ways. It can help reassure you that you're not imagining things. If you get to the stage where you have a meeting with your manager or her, you can give specific examples. It's difficult to argue that something's a one-off or that you took it the wrong way if you've got a few different incidents. The emotions bit is there because the feelings you experience at the time something happens can be difficult to articulate later.

    Longer-term, you have a choice to make. If you like the job and are willing to fight for it, you should ask for a meeting with your manager ASAP and explain, with examples, what has been happening. I suspect, strongly suspect, that they know what this woman is like and haven't dealt with her properly. I also thought 'she's applied for your job' when I read your OP, which has been suggested in other posts.

    Neither of these things should be your problem. Of course they are you problem in that you're bearing the brunt of her behaviour. I'm afraid at this point, I don't care what her 'reasons' are for that behaviour, you're the one we're worried about.

    If you aren't satisfied with their response informally, invoke the formal grievance policy. Even small companies have to have them, if they don't, assume they use the ACAS one. If you want to be accompanied and supported, join a trade union - but be warned that they won't help you if you join at the 11th hour just to get a rep for a meeting. You could also call the ACAS helpline or get in touch with your local CAB office for legal advice.

    If you don't feel that the job is worth fighting for my own personal view is that your mental health is too precious to risk working in the situation you find yourself in, but only you can decide that. If you do leave, make sure you ask for an exit interview or get it all out in your resignation letter, if only so that you can leave knowing that you tried to make it better for the next person and have no regrets.

    They've obviously spent time, money and effort recruiting you and won't want to do it again, but I suspect that they'll find it very tough to deal with it properly. If that's the case, again, it's their problem, and their responsibility, not yours.
    Worker in, and passionate advocate of, the credit union movement. I don't speak for the sector or for any individual CU. My opinions & experiences are my own.

    Search MSE for more info about CUs and find ones that cover your area by searching online for 'find your credit union'.
  • TBagpuss
    TBagpuss Posts: 11,205 Forumite
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    I typed a reply last night but it look like it didn't post.

    So far as the micro managment is concenred, I would stop copying her tin to all emails and delay responding wha she chases.

    Instead, set up a system which works for you - for the credit control, this might be that you make a list and send her a single e-mail at the end of the day listing the customers / debts you have chased and any responses, or setting up a spreadsheet where you can record when and how you have chased, and then either save that somwhere she can also access it, or email her a copy once a day, or twice a week.

    If she chases you you can then refer her to the list or spreadsheet.

    If she continues to demand to see all of the emails and /or is criticising your style of writing then it might be appropriate for you to speak to your manager and let them know that you are happy to take on the credit control work, but that you feel it is very ineffcient as co-worker is spending so much time checking on you that you don't geel that you doing the work is saving her any time, and that you feel it may be more efficient for her to do it herself, if she is not able to leave you to do it.

    (for credit control work, I'd also suggest that you devise a set of standard letters rathe than starting from scratch each time, and also a set timescale to send them - my company has one which goes out when a bill is 7 days overdue, another at 14 days, one at a month and a final one giving them 7 days notice that we are issuing proceedings at court, for instnace.

    Then you only ned to slot in the specifc details of the actual customer and the invoice, and you can automiacally diary it forward to the next date. You can of course also timetable additional follow up by phone etc.
    All posts are my personal opinion, not formal advice Always get proper, professional advice (particularly about anything legal!)
  • RuthnJasper
    RuthnJasper Posts: 4,032 Forumite
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    How's it going OP? Any improvements?


    Hope so. x
  • barbiedoll
    barbiedoll Posts: 5,326 Forumite
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    I've already thanked Sparkles very helpful post but I would just like to comment on this...
    If you want to be accompanied and supported, join a trade union - but be warned that they won't help you if you join at the 11th hour just to get a rep for a meeting.

    My friend was getting a very hard time from a manager in her job as a care assistant. She joined a union and called their helpline. Within a week, and with their help, she had requested a formal meeting with her bosses, and was accompanied by an extremely knowledgeable union rep. So it can be done!
    "I may be many things but not being indiscreet isn't one of them"
  • SparklesJD
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    Barbie, I was probably a bit harsh!

    I was trying to get across the message that she should consider joining sooner rather than later if she thinks she needs to. TU reps tend (but happily not always, as in your friend's case) to take a dim view of someone joining just at the point that they need the help. A bit like a break-down service charging you a lot for joining when you've already broken down.

    TU reps' training is excellent and well-worth having one on your side!
    Worker in, and passionate advocate of, the credit union movement. I don't speak for the sector or for any individual CU. My opinions & experiences are my own.

    Search MSE for more info about CUs and find ones that cover your area by searching online for 'find your credit union'.
  • woolly_wombat
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    SparklesJD wrote: »
    I used to be a HR manager, although I've been out of the sector for a while, so this isn't based on anything more than my personal views. She sounds like she is bullying you, based on the fact that you are upset by her behaviour. You do not need to explain or apologise for being upset by her behaviour and you are not in any way responsible for her behaviour, although you can choose, as many people have said, how you respond to it.

    The best tip I can give you (apologies if anyone's already suggested this, I had a quick read and didn't see it) is to keep a diary, if you're not already.

    I'm not talking 'War and Peace', just the date, time, anyone else who was there/copied in and a line about what happened i.e. 'X critised my spelling of Y. She made me feel small.'

    This is useful in a lot of ways. It can help reassure you that you're not imagining things. If you get to the stage where you have a meeting with your manager or her, you can give specific examples. It's difficult to argue that something's a one-off or that you took it the wrong way if you've got a few different incidents. The emotions bit is there because the feelings you experience at the time something happens can be difficult to articulate later.

    Longer-term, you have a choice to make. If you like the job and are willing to fight for it, you should ask for a meeting with your manager ASAP and explain, with examples, what has been happening. I suspect, strongly suspect, that they know what this woman is like and haven't dealt with her properly. I also thought 'she's applied for your job' when I read your OP, which has been suggested in other posts.

    Neither of these things should be your problem. Of course they are you problem in that you're bearing the brunt of her behaviour. I'm afraid at this point, I don't care what her 'reasons' are for that behaviour, you're the one we're worried about.

    If you aren't satisfied with their response informally, invoke the formal grievance policy. Even small companies have to have them, if they don't, assume they use the ACAS one. If you want to be accompanied and supported, join a trade union - but be warned that they won't help you if you join at the 11th hour just to get a rep for a meeting. You could also call the ACAS helpline or get in touch with your local CAB office for legal advice.

    If you don't feel that the job is worth fighting for my own personal view is that your mental health is too precious to risk working in the situation you find yourself in, but only you can decide that. If you do leave, make sure you ask for an exit interview or get it all out in your resignation letter, if only so that you can leave knowing that you tried to make it better for the next person and have no regrets.

    They've obviously spent time, money and effort recruiting you and won't want to do it again, but I suspect that they'll find it very tough to deal with it properly. If that's the case, again, it's their problem, and their responsibility, not yours.

    The words of an expert (my highlights).

    OP please take heed.

    This is not a problem of your making. Her behaviour is clearly unacceptable.

    Take care and best of luck.
  • woolly_wombat
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    One of the things she has me doing is her credit control. I've done this before so it's not an issue. She has me copy her into EVERY email I send/receive in relation to this...which I can understand, but she doesn't appear to take notice of them as she emails every day with a list of names/companies she wants updates on...even when she knows she only asked me to chase them the day before.

    The point of receiving the emails seems to be so that she can critique HOW I write, which she does in a very loud voice. Where I don't have an email address, I begin by writing a letter, enclosing a statement, as some of the debts have been carried over for a few years. This morning she emailed to ask for an update on one she only asked me to chase on Thursday afternoon...I explained it had been posted second class that day and I would chase later in the week. She responded by saying I should be phoning people as 'Sending letters is costly'. The debt goes back 4 years and hasn't been chased in that time.... I did ask her for contact names, numbers etc before and she told me to google them. :mad:

    You appear to have identified her Achilles heel.

    There is clearly a back history here and it sounds to me as if this company is lucky to have you on board.
  • Smodlet
    Smodlet Posts: 6,976 Forumite
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    For what it's worth, I agree that this woman is probably feeling inadequate, quite possibly because she unsuccessfully applied for your job, hence she is doing everything she can to undermine you, partly to "get back" at those who "failed to realise what an asset she is to the company"... you are getting the irony, aren't you?

    Sadly, we all, it seems, have been there and done this: The world is full of her ilk and, all too often, management lack either the stones or the will to do anything about it.

    Is credit control even part of your role? I assume it is as they recruited someone with relevant experience. Were you employed because she is either ineffective at this task (four year old debt) or incapable of managing her workload effectively, I wonder?

    Good luck.
  • IDProtected
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    There is not a job in this world that is worth being bullied for. I left a job after 7 years, the best job I've ever had or will have, because I was being bullied and my boss would not step in and put an end to it. This was in the old days when we had one printer between 6, and I was picked on because it was always my work churning out of it. I did say on more than one occasion not to pick on me but to go to the boss who actually produced this work!
    Owed @ LBM, including mtg: £85961.15, As of 1st August 2016: £14481.01 :j
    September 2016; out of debt and have savings for the saddest reason. RIP Aunty, I'll never forget you:(

    Never begin a sentence with "And". Unless you are the Goo Goo Dolls that is.
  • NotGivingIn
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    This woman is an out & out bully. You definately need to find the strength to stand up to her. We have a similar situation where my best friend in work has been promoted and moved into an office with 3 other women. One in particular is rude, abrupt and ignorant to my friend and the others seem to copy her - when she is off, they can be relatively nice. My friend is getting very disheartened, so I am trying to alert the managers to watch the situation while keep sending her positive messages about how special she is. Just remember that you are special to every-one who really knows you and this witch hasn't done anything to deserve your respect. When she e-mails a demand to complete a task, reply by email - either to confirm completed if you think it is in your job description or explain why you cannot do it yet (or at all). Copy a colleague or manager into your replies so they can see her style of message, against your very polite replies. The more people see it the sooner you will have support. If she bothers to start reading them she will also begin to see that others are also noticing her actions - that might make her wake up to the damage she is doing to herself. Good luck.
    :mad: working my way to financial freedom
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