What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Retail Warzone

by Tim K.

After reading some of the stories I think I am a target of a workplace bully.

Here is my story:

I started working at a well known retail store where they pride themselves about their customer service and respect for employees.

When I first started working there everything was great. I was originally assigned to being a stock person and took great pride in my job. Until...

Every new person was required to train for register. It was around the holiday season and as soon as they found that my numbers worked I was thrown into a register position.

Here's where the bullying started. The manager assigned me to my original post as usual. When it got busy I was called for backup. NO PROBLEM. I know around the holidays it gets busy. The Front End Supervisor who was nice understood that I had a job to do and let me go to finish my assigned job. As soon as the Front End Manager punched in I was automatically called back to the register.

The Front End Manager ask, "Why did you leave your register?"

I politely said, "I am going back to complete my job that I was originally assigned."

The Front End Manager said, "No you are not you are here all day."

After going back and forth I concluded the manager told me to complete this assignment this is what I am going to do. I walked away feeling confused and a little frustrated.

I don't take two steps in the stock room. When the Store Manager paged me and said we need you now on register. A far cry from what was needed this morning.

Later that day I was called in the office. I was told about strategies to make my job more efficient however if a block of time is not devoted then it is next to impossible to complete. I tried to give them a suggestion that would have me on stock half the time and then as a backup register person the other half of the time. The suggestion was kindly overlooked.

As the days past it was very obvious to me that I was no longer stock and I was being herded to be a permanent cashier. This is something I did not want but I tried to make the best of it.

I noticed the bullying started after my first bad evaluation review from the Front End Manager. I paid it no mind and signed the paper and thought I could improve. It was a tell sign I was dealing with a workplace bully when my evaluation from the front end supervisor was a stark contrast to the front end managers. Front End Supervisor Review: Very positive remarks with room for improvement. Front End Manager's review of me was a Gatling gun of criticisms and negative feed back.

It became more apparent this person was a bully and attempting to undermine me when the Front End Supervisor said after my review.

"You are doing good and improving. I don't see what so and so (the front end manager) is talking about."

The Fire Fight Begins

It began to be a pattern I come in every morning. There was no need to go to stock because I no longer worked there (but no one officially told me). So I go straight into the register. I ring for a while maybe for an hour or two and when there are few customers around. She would walk to my register and rattle off a laundry list of things I hadn't done.

This has happened over three times and now I see it being part of a patter. She got into her routine of rattling off criticisms and negative remarks; I stopped her and asked her, "Are you telling me I am a bad register person." Mind you I have been semi-permanently assigned to register duty for a month.

She looked stunned while I asked this. I asked her again. Are you saying am I a bad register person.

Her response was, "I am not saying that."

The next question I asked was, "What are you saying then?"

I got no response from her she turned around and walked away sulking to management.

Recently (Martin Luther King Day)

The Front End Manager got into it with another cashier. This cashier went to management to complain even mentioned that it's obvious that this Front End Manager is a bully and likes to pick on people and this cashier mentioned that she has also witnessed the Front End Manager picking on me. We finally thought that something was going to be done when the Front End Manager was pulled off the floor and sent into the office for 3 hours. We thought something would be done by upper management to give us lowly employees a respite from this person's constant nit-picking and morbid negativity.

Something was done alright. The girl who complained and at the end of the day...

Her hours we slashed to one day for next week. As for my hours...... 0 yes ZERO hours for the next week. My name isn't even on the schedule.

It is apparent that this bully has the power to steamroll over management and probably turned the situation around that she feels threatened which is BS.

When I come to this place now I feel like I have to wear an army helmet and bullet proof vest. I am always on guard when this manager is around because I don't know what dirty trick she will do next. Since my hours have been cut to zero I can only imagine the worse that management is harboring, condoning and enabling this Front End Manager's behavior. To this point I have been assertive and professional however I fear that since I know this Manager's game and bullying tactics and recognize it for what it is and is not (IT IS NOT: Training as upper management would call it) it is straight up bullying. And from the looks of it... It will continue and maybe escalate.

I would of expected this type of behavior on a 5th grade playground not a retail establishment. I have only been there for three months and this experience has left a bad taste about this store and the workplace culture it has cultivated. On a side note I have worked with some great people there most have had the same run ins with this same front end manager. But this one person who is in power has ruined and altered my perception about this store for good.

Any advise or words of encouragement would be most helpful.

Tim K.

How To Deal With Workplace Bullying: What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Comments for Retail Warzone

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Kindegarten Retail
by: Anonymous

Your description of kindergarten behavior is exactly what I found at a large outdoor retailer.

I am more educated and older than the 23-25 year old managers. What I have found is there is a certain type of manager who when they get control is like a little kid in charge of the candy store, they like to show you that they are in control and use their control.

Because I am older, I have a stronger work ethic than the 20 year olds, and we used to hire a lot of college students who would work part-time but now we are hiring younger, not college bound type kids. The bullying that I have experienced is from "street smart" type guys and gals who have a chip on their shoulder from growing up in a "bad neighborhood". One of the skills they learned is bullying. The managers who are 23-25 are far more comfortable talking to the 20 year olds than to me. These street smart kids know how to make little digs that show signs of no respect. One example is one of the 20 year olds paging a manager, then she speaks to the manager, then the manager pages me and asks me if I am going on my break. Now mind you that the store is really quite and it was quite obvious what was going on, the 20 year old talked to the manager who then talked to me. I am 20 years older than the 20 year old, have been in the store much longer and although it seems petty, it was a kindergarten move for the manager to respond to the 20 year olds question. It was as if the 20 year old was managing me. This seems like a small thing but these small things add up and show that they have no respect.

What was much worse, this incident does sound small but in bullying as you probably realize it is a slew of incidents that go on, well, I told the manager that it was inappropriate for her to immediately respond to the 20 year olds request and that it was kindergarten behavior. I was brought into the office by the other manager, an african american woman who proceeds to tell me that my behavior is aggressive and that none of the associates feel comfortable talking to me, and proceeds to tell me how I attack associates and am too aggressive. This is from the 24 year old manager who loves to show she is in control and is constantly throwing out the expression to associates, "I am going to write you up if you do this...", This manager is very aggressive and takes any word I say and takes it from a level of 3 to a 10. So needless to say I cried because the whole situation is so frustrating, I just have such a hard time interacting with these "street savvy, uneducated kids from bad neighborhoods". It feels like they are gleeful about being able to bully this well educated white woman. Since there is not much I can do about I go home crying when it happens because I need to keep the job. It totally sucks!! Bullies are manipulative, and feed off of each other.

Unprofessional Retail Management
by: Anonymous

I totally feel both of you guys on this. Never once have I worked in what would be considered a "decent retail work environment" in my life. I did these jobs during college and since this Recession, am back at it despite a master's degree.

In my current store, I began as a cashier. First week was uneventful with little problems. As a cashier, we are assigned our own trays and machines. At the end of a shift we have to count our trays and receipts to make sure they match up. Strangely, when the store manager says I'm doing good, the assistant manager (when the manager isn't around) will tell me otherwise.

The assistant manager likes to ridicule and scold me for not doing things right or fast enough. Unfortunately, she didn't realize that these "procedures" are unwritten and nobody bothered to tell the new guy. She says I don't ask enough questions on the job, yet gets frustrated every time I ask her for assistance. She micromanages me(strangely no one else)even though she was rarely observing my actions on the floor. While cashiers work on the store floor, she rarely , if ever, shows up on the store floor unlike the store managers does. I even once heard her complain about her job to customers on the floor!

Just today, after some praise and admiration from the store manager in the morning regarding my performance; she manged to ruin it all. Twice today, my cashier rang up strange results. Both times a different assistant manager came to intervene. At the end of the day(after the store manager left), the assistant manager determined that my tray and credit card transactions were off. She traced it to these two incidents, and then told me to walk her through what I did. I did so and told her I rang up the transactions just like I was told, while one confused our store's gift card redemptions and the other somehow told me to give the customer cashback.

Unprofessional Retail Management (part 2)
by: Anonymous

Although this particular bully assistant manager was present throughout the entire cash back incident, she still seemed to have made up her mind that I somehow gave the customer $20 in cash back. She then proceeded to scold me about my performance. Since I deny giving the customer cashback, I asked her why would the computer come up with this result. She just rolled her eyes in a condescending manner. It's clear she already made up her mind. As for the other incident regarding gift card redeeming, I told her the other assistant manager sorted that out and she can ask her; but this bully AM didn't seem to care.

This accused me of being defensive despite my responses being assertive, but leveled. You'd think she's expecting to provoke an emotional response from me. She scolded me by reminding me that I'm still on a preliminary probation period and according to her, I'm having trouble with my register. These words come strangely contradictory to the store manager's.

I get the impression that retail workplace bullies in places of authority often have self-image issues. Such issues are often driven low self-esteem, which makes them target others. In the various retail places I've worked, it seems to me such people like to center in on better educated workers. At my current store, I am the only college educated person, minus the high school part timers. The bully AM seems to have partial vendetta against me. I once had a similar scenario working at a Walgreens years ago. Because of this, they micromanage you and scrutinize your every move, even though they aren't always there. You wonder what nasty predisposition they have in their head about workers and people in general.

Bullying in retail work place
by: Anonymous

This story is very familiar, same thing happening at my place of work. I love working in retail been working at the same job for 30 years. We did get a new manager at first it wasn't that bad but when our company was purchased by the company she use to work for that's when hell broke loose. I'm the assistant manager and no matter what I do its never right or good enough I have spoke to the owner and she said that can't be true she must have spoke to her because it's good for a bit the it all starts again. My concern is the staff especially our students this is their first job so when I see them I do use encouraging words to them and let them know they are doing well . It seems that the manager has personal issues that she brings to work and can't deal properly with them. It's true your hands are tied just have to deal with it the best way you can I kill her with kindness and when she gives me so much tasks to do I tell her no problem I'll put it on my list and tomorrow is another day. I believe in karma because people can't treat others like this is inhumane these people have low self esteem and don't think much of themselves. They are the only ones that can change their lives.

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