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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Interactive Design Job Turns Sour

by Paul B

Hi There, glad I found this site. I joined a company in Leicester Square London via an agency last September. The company specialises in interactive design and as a senior designer I was very excited and keen to join.

My interview was a two stage process, the first with the creative director who at that point seemed very amiable and keen to get me on board. The second part of the interview was with two other key members of staff and personnel manager who were very eager to stress what a fun and dynamic place it was to be.

During the two month wait to begin this role, I turned down another offer of employment, thinking that based on the nature of the interview and (fairly one-sided) contract, that this would be the best option at that stage in my career.

On starting the role, I couldn't help but notice that the whole place felt 'weird'. It seemed that the other members of the team just did not talk, at all. The only voices to be heard was from the aforementioned creative director and his sidekick who was soon to go off on maternity leave. Oddly, his personality had completely changed from when I had the first interview. He would shout at other team members and belittle them as much and as loudly as possible in the open plan office. I heard him questioning one of his staff as to 'what they actually did!!'. It took all my strength not to ask him the same question.

Anyway, my first major project was very much out of the scope of what I was employed to do. The brief to produce a print brochure for a very high profile client. I made the point that my skills in this area were at best limited, but I was told to just 'crack on' and see how it went. This was to form one part of a series of supremely badly project-managed tasks given to me and all with frankly ridiculous timescales. To cut a very long story short. The project, which had good feedback from the client, was hauled over the coals internally, despite the fact that I had not been given one jot of support in it's two week execution. The team I had corralled to help with the work in their various capacities did an excellent job... to my specification... and were payed compliments by my boss for their efforts. I, however, was rewarded with a mini-tribunal in which I had to do a fully autopsy of the project to this man who now looked like he actually hated me. His beady eyes nearly popping out of his head in rage. It was depressing and soul destroying as I felt it was going very well based on the feedback of the client and the project-manager who seemed to always either be on holiday or 'at a conference'.

In subsequent weeks, I was made to print out copies of all the design work that I had carried out and have daily meetings to dissect my work. Meanwhile, the alcoholic, who sat as part of that team was free to roll in after two hour lunches absolutely reeking of beer and mints to produce some of the most most uninspired work I've ever seen.

By my second month of employement, a good morning was greeted with stoney silence. Day in and day out, I would just sit and listen to the latest crop of homophobic and ill-informed nonsense from the fat boss and the even more hateful tech director. It was maddening, but I'm thick skinned enough to get through the day and roll with the punches. I was never invited out on lunchbreaks, except by two much more junior colleagues whom I had befriended. They were both puzzled as to why I was always being dragged off to meeting rooms for 'talks'. So was I.

One two occasions, I was made to stay and make changes to a project while the cleaners swept up and turned the lights off around me. I can do a fourteen hour day with best of them but this just seemed like a silly punishment. The work could have easily been completed the following day. I began to develop a deep hatred for my boss. I became aware that many people had nothing good to say about him and I began to wish I had taken the other job offer... by this point it was too late.

I made a decision to confront HR to ask why I was getting no support or positive feedback for ANYTHING and I mean ANYTHING that I did. I'm not lazy or incompetent. I have worked at bigger and more-established companies and tend to be well regarded and thus stay for a number of years. The HR said she would look into it.

The very next day, I was called into a meeting room for a 'catch-up', there sat said HR with the creative director (my boss). He informed me that I had failed the probation at which point the HR walked me to my desk and made me pick up my belongings. I was then frogmarched out of the building, all the while being asked 'are you okay?'. 'Er yeah, I'm f*cking great!' I thought. I walked out of the building into the lunchtime sun feeling like I had just been assaulted.

I am now out of work and fear that this has made a seriously negative impact on my CV. I still have no clue as to how I inspired so much hatred from my boss. :(

Comments for Interactive Design Job Turns Sour

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Job Turns Sour
by: Anonymous Woman

Oh how sorry I feel for you to have made the "wrong choice" with your job, but you did what you felt was right--and how would anyone know??? Belatedly, I have learned, too, that I made some wrong choices and paid a dear price. Privately, trusted friends tell me I was bullied because the bullies were jealous of my talents. I remember some years ago writing in my daily journal (which helps during high stress bullying periods), "I refuse to dumb down to please them. I simply refuse. I know that is what they want but I won't do it. I will simply be me and do a good job." It is a tragedy that we can't all end up in work situations where we are appreciated for who we are, and someone isn't "after us." The good places of employment are out there, I know, but they certainly seem hard to find. I hope you can find another job soon with the right kind of boss and co-workers.

by: Solange

Sounds like your boss was not looking for someone to do a job. He was looking for a scapegoat -- someone who would fullfil a role that allowed him to maintain domination over the group of people who were already there. Just think how much more fear they must feel now after how he treated you. Clearly, this was not about you. It was about something going on with him. It was helpful for me to read about serial bullies. This guy, who presented himself one way and turned out to be something else, sounds like one of those. In the meantime, take care of yourself and don't worry about your CV. This was not about you or your work. You are fine and fortunate to be out of that situation.

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