What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

All Of A Sudden I Can't Do Anything Right

by L Myers
(Oklahoma City)

I work at a non-profit and have for 7 years now. I wear many hats: I am the paperwork HR person, P/R person, Executive Assistant, Development Assistant, Bookkeeper, on-site IT person, and supervisor to 3 AmeriCorps members.

I was asked two years ago to carry the company on when our Executive Director resigned and the board of directors searched for a new ED. I carried that position for 3 months. I have been dedicated to the mission of the organization. During the 3 months that I was in charge, and the new ED was hired, she was told that I am a trouble maker by some staff and board members. To what basis that comment came from I don't know. I put a halt to a few things that were happening taking the organization in the wrong direction and advised the person involved that any new directions were to be taken up with the ED. That and asking the staff to work their schedules as written were the only things I did to upset the staff that I know of. Oh and I have been in the working world as an assistant for many years so this stuff isn't anything new to me.

Since the new ED or as she has managed to reclassify herself with approval of the board, President, has taken office, she had an open door policy, put many policies and procedures in writing and made the staff (17 total) feel important. We were and still are told that we are a team and need to work together; we can make a difference and each person is valuable and important.

Well, 6 months ago a new development director was hired as our last one moved on to a higher position with another non-profit. This guy has a great reputation in the social circles as a great fundraiser, knows many important people in the city that can make things happen. We, the staff, are excited to have that person on our team - for the first week. He has managed to get the ear of the president to implement many changes. Changes can be great and I for one, am not against changes at all. She has given him tremendous authority in most aspects of the organization and has herself, changed her attitude towards certain staff members, me in particular. All of a sudden I am dogged for making minor mistakes; couldn't possibly be due to too much of a work load! I spoke to her about the tremendous responsibilities I carry and being an assistant to two high level positions is enough in itself much less all the other responsibilities I carry. Deadlines have been put upon me that are impossible to meet during an average work day. I always have to work from home in the evening in order to meet all those responsibilities.

My ED acknowledges that I have a full plate but throws in the howevers on a pretty consistent basis. I have been excluded from planning meetings between the ED and the development director and then they show high aggravation when I don't know what's going on and both tell me I need to ask more questions. I basically am so busy that I do the tasks at hand and don't offer up much extra because I have too much to do. I basically go into auto pilot to get the information to them or perform the task so I can move on to the next. I then am told, in front of other people on some occasions that I need to review everything before I pass on to them; I agree if I had time to do that. As I perform all of these functions, I am still expected to answer incoming calls when the secretary is not available or overwhelmed; catch the door when the bell rings, cover while the secretary is out to lunch, 1 hour, while the rest of us get 30 minutes if we're even allowed the opportunity to take lunch because of booked meetings and conferences, etc.

Recently, the dd told me that our ed or president advised him to talk to me about the fact that I sit and wait to be told what to do. I have never ever been that type of person what's more don't have time to sit and wait on anything! It was extremely upsetting to me as I have a high work ethic and have never in my life been accused of such a thing. I have always worked in fast paced situations and managed my time accordingly. Furthermore, in many round about ways by the dd was advised on my personal life as in certain staff members were not my friends and I shouldn't feel the need to speak up for them on their behalf when he or the pres. are talking about them. He has proceeded to speak with a friend and co-worker of mine that I have spoken up for at times about me and said some things that were simply not true but posed them as truths that I said. My friend and I discussed these things and when confronted the dd with them, of course he denied them. I went to the pres. and discussed these things as well as her behavior and comments she had made to me and she insisted that we were merely gossiping and that it had to stop.

To wrap this up basically, I've had 3 conversations with the president about the way they treat me and that because they have been, out of nowhere, micromanaging me to such a great extent (I quit talking to co-workers about anything so as not to be accused of gossiping) and as a result, am fearful that I will be let go on a basis of the inability to perform my position.

We recently had a group come to our organization and perform an evaluation of policies and procedures in place, various positions, etc. to see where improvement could be made. Major positions would be asked to talk to the group interviewers and I specifically was told by the pres. to be honest and no sugar coating. Okay, this group spent 2 1/2 hours with me taking notes, asking questions, etc and then asked me how I would break up my position as obviously it was too much for any one person.

Their meeting was a couple weeks ago and only the pres. and the dd were allowed to hear their recommendations. No comments were made to the staff about their findings although we the staff were told we would be informed of the results. Next thing I know, the bookkeeping was outsourced to our accountant. Great for me but I wasn't informed of this decision, I wasn't asked how I thought that would work, I wasn't informed on any details. The decision was made and to date, I don't know what that will do to my schedule.

A couple weeks ago, several staff members told me how the dd was going around to them asking them to give him some feedback on "my friend" and co-worker. When they advised she does a good job, she is the volunteer coordinator, he proceeded to egg them on to give him something bad about her performance. By the way, they were doing the same thing to her as me - making us feel incompetent and nervous to perform our jobs. Staff members referred to the dd as a bully. So after learning of this, I decided it was time to take it to the president. She pressed for names along with the details I was given. I actually told her that I have heard complaints from all but 5 of the 17 employees and gave some specifics. She then proceeded to give excuses for his behavior and that we needed to learn and accept his persona as he tends to be a little intense and we shouldn't take it personally. She stated that I should not be giving advice to any staff members as I was merely the hr person for handling paperwork. I advised her that I didn't give advice ever with the exception of stating that I know how they feel and they must talk to the pres about this. The problem is they no longer feel comfortable talking to her about anything as she has changed and deflected much of her responsibilities to the dd. I advised her of that as well.

She advised she will be getting to the bottom of this and acknowledged that she needs to reel in the dd in some areas. Next thing I know, she calls me into her office and stated that she spoke to a couple of staff members and they gave her "a very different story". I told her at that point that I'm done with this. I tried to come to her with issues that staff had told me and it was turned around that, once again, I'm "stirring the pot". I told her that I felt it my responsibility as her assist. To advise her. Bottom line, my friend and co-worker was let go yesterday based on the fact that her position has changed and it was no longer a good fit.

I've left out so many things that one may find it difficult to see the bullying that I am experiencing so I'll try to just list them:

• They need to know why I'm leaving my desk everytime (this is rough due to the fact that I have to help answer the door, answer calls from staff for computer issues, make copies in the copy room, etc.)

• When I'm speaking to any other staff member, I'm checked on - I notice the pres or dd looking for me, hanging around near me

• Staff members come to my office to ask me questions and the pres walks around the corner of her office to mine and stands there - sometimes commenting sometimes just standing there listening

• I attend the finance committee meetings with board members and I'm talked over by both and given looks like don't say a word

• During those meetings I've witnessed many many times, items glossed over or not addressed

• After those meetings I've been chastised for not knowing what many line items of financial reports consist of at a moments drop of the hat and told to be more prepared

(I am not an accountant but merely a bookkeeper and do not have a degree in this field and they know it and I've stated that many times that it's difficult for me to interpret some of the financials for that very reason. I thought that's why we have accountants)

Bottom line is I have too many jobs on my plate and they keep piling more on only to comment on how I need to organize my time better and stay on top of things.

They have worn me down, made me doubt myself and am fearful of losing my job. And yes, it makes me extremely angry and the pres tells me I'm personalizing all of this - it's nothing personal. I'm here to tell you, it's all personal.

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