Bullying Manager - What to Do?

TLDR: Manager retaliating after I was asked to give him feedback on his performance as a manager. It was his manager that asked me to give him direct feedback. Retaliation causing hostile work environment and mental stress.

Manager - will call him “HM” for horrible manager
His Manager - will call him “big boss”
His peer using me to further his agenda - let’s call him “2IC”

HM is incompetent and a bully. Regularly rants at ppl in his team, has difficulty controlling his emotions and operating with any rationale or common sense. Ppl in our team have either left or looking for other roles. This guy lies about all sorts of things, even stuff that’s easy to check. He also regularly steals our work, passes it off as his own without giving any credit. In short, he’s the worst person I’ve ever worked with let alone report to.

A couple months ago, his peer, 2IC, randomly set up a meeting with me. I’ve never worked with him before but he started asking how I felt, what it’s been like working there. He told me he knows just what HM is like and that there are plans to fix the issue. Thinking he was being candid, I stupidly shared I didn’t like HM. An hour after this meeting with 2IC, I get a meeting request from the big boss (boss of 2IC and HM). 2IC told big boss I wanted to quit (I never said this). I had to sit through a meeting where I had to share my feedback on HM (2IC already told him what I said so there was no hiding). Basically 2IC was using me to try and get rid of HM as I later found out they hate each other. I work in another office location from HM, 2IC and big boss so was not aware of all these office politics.

After the big boss session, I was asked to share my feedback with my manager. So I did. And that was when the retaliation started. I got ranted at it my next 1:1 with HM about what I problem I am and how difficult I am to work with (never received any feedback from anyone else about this). He’s since created situations to make me look bad so he could publicly berate me. He’s calling other ppl I work with to dig up information about my work and then setting up meetings to try and catch me out. He’s leaving a paper trail of emails to make me look like I’m not performing. I escalated to big boss and was dismissed and told to work it out with HM. I’m left with no one else to escalate to except HR - who I am meeting this week. I’ve been told by my colleagues that HM is trying to build a case either to get rid of me or make me so frustrated that I’ll leave. I hate to give him the satisfaction of leaving just bc he’s making things difficult for me. I am looking for other roles and I don’t want to quit until I find something else. In the meantime, he’s making my life difficult. I’m constantly trying to protect myself from his next scheme. I get anxious and have a pit in my stomach every time I get an email or call from him. I have difficulty sleeping. I’ve started seeing a counsellor.

Not sure what to do. Just wanted to share and vent and see if other ppl have any advice.

Comments

  • +19 votes

    resign

    • +52 votes

      As much as I would like to, I have family and mortgage - need to have another job to go to before resigning. Am looking for other role and reached out to my work network.

      • +16 votes

        Apply for other jobs, and when you get one… resign.

        And don’t forget, if you get an exit interview, let them know the exact reason you are leaving is because of HM.

        • +9 votes

          Its not just a HM issue now, its the Big boss issue for not dealing this discretely, not protecting you.

          This would be a issue the Union (im not in a union) would love to deal with

          • +3 votes

            @Baghern: I don’t think I have a union…

            For sure I will be very clear in my exit interview how toxic the culture is. Doubt they will do anything about it though. Management tend to band together and protect each other.

            • +3 votes

              @misswanderlust: If it's a large org then no-one cares about exit intvws. It's just a tick box HR exercise. They almost expect a lot of ppl to vent and goes on the human refuge pile of jobs to ignore.

              • +2 votes

                @gimme: Yeah you’re right - they don’t do anything with the exit interviews.

                • +1 vote

                  @misswanderlust: People make this complaint a lot, but HR can’t do anything with this from exit interviews. It’s actually an unsubstantiated claim and the complainant (i.e the person leaving) isn’t available to assist with an investigation.

                  If you want HR to do something you need to complain (raise a grievance) and then stick around whilst they investigate. The more evidence you have to assist the investigation the better.

                  When this happens, then the info from exit interviews can be part of the evidence for the above but as a stand-alone piece it’s not strong enough to take action

                  •  

                    @frayed: That’s a good reason why exit interviews don’t result in any repercussions. ppl feel comfortable giving the true reason at these interviews since there is no risk of retaliation but surely if the same reason is given in many exit interviews, it’s cause for hr to investigate?

          •  

            @Baghern: May be join one now. And also keep track of things in writing yourself as well. If HR does not help, call fairworks and get advise from them as well.

            Please keep everything in writing on regular basis. It seems like after the feedback he is trying to get u out based on performance. But if u have been in that company for a while and had good performance you can use that as supporting thing too.

            Good luck. Hope you are out of the toxic culture soon.

            People love company but managers like these made them leave and cause bigger damage to the company as well.

        • +2 votes

          Let them know that it is because of all 3 managers.

          You've got 2IC trying to manipulate it, HM with a vendetta, and BB trying to push it under a rug.

      • +3 votes

        You've drew the short straw mate.

        Definitely go find a job ASAP.

        If you stay they will eventually fire you for not performing. ie. You need to leave on your terms.

        I've seen this in my work place one to many times and on a couple of times I was able to give the affected party the following advice and they were able to make it worked for them.

        I recommend:
        1) stop spending and save a bunch of emergency money
        2) find out how many annual leave/ Long Service Leave you have. This is going to be your extra emergency money.
        3) find out how much sick leave you have. This is your looking for a new job while being paid by your current employer period. You need to go to a bulk bill doctor and get them to write you one or many medical certificate(s) to say you are suffering from stress of some sort. It doesn't matter what medical condition, but the most important thing is that the medical certificate(s) is long enough to burn through ALL your accumulated sick leave as you will not be able to cash this out when you leave. This might be a week every other week.
        4) research what Centrelink benefits you are entitled in the event you quit or are fired before you find a job.

        The plan:
        Use the sick leave time and transition period to find a job, take it easy etc. When you're at work just do the bare minimum, there is no amount of work you can do to turn things around ie. Just do enough so that they don't fire you on the spot so that you can use all your sick leave.

        It's going to be stressful, but just take it easy at work where possible.

        (Optional) Maybe even try to catch HM out so you can make him look bad to big boss and 2IC for fun/revenge. To be honest 2IC seems like a doochbag too, maybe try and throw him under the bus too.

        Hopefully you find a job before your sick leave runs out. If not you will need to go back to work and suffer a bunch more… at this stage you need to consider quitting anyways and just burn through your emergency money.

        Hopefully you find something before hand.

        All the best!

        •  

          Thanks for the detailed advice - it’s very helpful. What a sad reflection of corporate life that you’ve seen this happen so many times.

          After reading so many ppl who have seen or been through the same situation, it really makes me sick that people like HM and 2IC get away with it. Where’s the karma?

  • +7 votes

    Sounds untenable. Resign if you can and be happy elsewhere. Nothing worse than dreading going to work.

  • +17 votes

    You didn’t play office politics correctly by whatever crap you put in your report about HM.
    Weren’t you aware he would get the feedback?
    Now your paying the price!
    Is it bully week at Ozbargain this week?

    • +8 votes

      Lol I decided to share after reading the other bullying threads.

    • +1 vote

      It's "Are you OK week" … or was it last week?
      Obviously many people not happy at work

      • +2 votes

        IMO workplace is the second biggest cause of stress for many people that I know and the first is financial stress caused due to no/underpaid/casual/insecure work.
        I know its anecdotal but upvote if you feel the same way!

  • +2 votes

    After the big boss session, I was asked to share my feedback with my manager.

    I thought usually you could leave this anonymous since in some cases it can escalate to what you're going through.

    • +2 votes

      Going by anecdotal evidence from Reddit, any time those "anonymous" surveys are performed at work - assume they're not.

      •  

        If your ship is run properly it’s anonymous, that doesn’t mean the feedback isn’t shared and depending on style/description can’t be figured out (eg if people describe a situation unique to them of course they will know who left it)

      • +1 vote

        at my workplace, they claim its anonymous, but then mention that the link to the survey is unique to everyone and on top of that requires MS one click login.

        yeah ill nope my way out

    • +1 vote

      It is never anonymous.

      NEVER

  • +9 votes

    I was asked to share directly with him from the big boss. And what’s worse, big boss already told him he had spoken to me. I feel like I’ve been played by the entire management layer and now left to deal with the consequences. It’s toxic. I’ve since heard lots of stories about the politics and drama all 3 ppl (big boss, 2IC and HM) create at the office. I am planning to resign as soon as I find another role.

    • +15 votes

      This is exactly what happened with me as well in my last job of 3 years, exactly the same. So I thought I'll give my 2 cents.

      The main thing you should focus on is exiting this job and that could mean you need to learn new skills to meet market requirements, you need to make time for interviews etc. It's not easy to look for a job even with many years of experience. If you need to learn new skills it is going to take a lot of time and effort. Weekends may need to be spent learning. The job market will slow down from October onwards due to holidays. So start working on your exit plan straight away, no matter how you feel about leaving. You don't have time to waste.

      In case of HM, this person is a narcissist. So do what narcissists hate, which is make light fun of them especially in front of others. I said light fun because you don't wanna push them so much that you are blamed for being unprofessional. I know you may be worried about losing your job from the lashing out but remember that you have legal protection of fair work rights. HM has a trail of bad behaviour and the company knows it even before you said anything. They're probably not going to risk getting sued by firing someone just because there was conflict at work. You can legally get paid time off if you go see a therapist and get in writing that you are seriously distraught due to stressful conditions at work. Keep that in mind in case you need it.

      Communicate with HM in writing as much as possible via slack or emails and screenshot everything for your records in case anything goes down. Save it to Google drive or something.

      In my case I ruined my HM's life by being unpredictable. Sometimes I used to be very nice to him sometimes I would call out his bs in front of rest of the team and he hated it. Before I left I spoke to C level execs and told them my concerns about HM with print outs of screenshots and persuaded others in my team to speak up too. When I spoke up, slowly others said a few words. Most people don't say anything they just remain quiet and people like your HM get away with their behaviour because good people remain quiet. After I left, I helped 2 others from my team leave by giving them references. When they resigned I encouraged them to speak about HM to C levels and during exit interviews.

      Few months ago I found out HM was demoted and his role replaced by someone new. He still works there because he has no skills so he can't even change his job. I also met a senior engineer at a meetup who interviewed HM recently and he said the interview was so bad HM couldn't even answer simple questions. So your HM is probably the same skill-less toxic person. I left a negative review of all this on company's glassdoor too.

      Focus on leaving. I hope I pointed out something useful to you.

      • +3 votes

        Thank you for sharing your experience. It was incredibly useful and a huge comfort to see you had a good outcome from it all. Everything you’ve said rings true, he is a narcissist and has no skills apart from bullying to get his way.
        I have been working on my exit plan for the last few weeks but it has been slow in getting responses. The market is quiet. I have remained calm and professional in all my dealings with him so it keeps him on the back foot bc he doesn’t know how to further frustrate and rile me. I’m not showing him how he’s affecting me bc it will give him ammunition to make my life more difficult.
        It’s sad to know that one person’s behaviour can have a ripple affect on other ppl’s lives in needing to change jobs. It’s not an easy thing to find a new job. Good on you for being able to help your ex-colleagues get out of the toxic situation. I hope once I get out, I’ll be able to do the same.

    •  

      This is why you join a union mate.

  • +8 votes

    Word of advice from someone who loves to listen to office politics but too scared to get involved.

    If the boss and Big Boss are of the same race, religion etc., boss was hired by Big Boss, and they don't value employees just avoid giving negative feedback. If you are asked for it, spin the negative in a good way by telling Big Boss how he can improve and don't be overly critical.

    • +2 votes

      Lesson learned. Thank you. Hopefully I will never put myself in this position again by working for such ppl.

      • +6 votes

        The second you see managers and HR colluding stay the heck away from the workplace by finding a new job. If you see managers having each other's backs you know there's something fishy going on there. They're in it together.

        A big boss will always take care of their own little bosses even if the person complaining is the Best Employee Eva!

        • +5 votes

          yep now I know - I just want to leave. I stupidly thought as long as I do a good job, it’s enough. These ppl are vampires, suck all the good work and productivity from ppl and replace with fear and resentment. Makes me sick. I’m pretty sure HR won’t do anything when I see them this week but I still want it on record.

          • +1 vote

            @misswanderlust: Be careful with HR. Just be super nice about it.

            • +1 vote

              @Numlock: I was planning to raise a case of bullying. Can you expand some more on what I should be careful about? I’m sure it’s clear I suck at politics so just want to be armed with more knowledge.

              •  

                @misswanderlust:

                Can you expand some more on what I should be careful about?

                You need to be detailed, don't use personal attacks, stay calm, include dates and times of the bullying etc.

                •  

                  @Numlock: Thank you. That’s really helpful. I’ll keep it objective and professional. Ive documented dates and have email evidence. I don’t know how much HR needs to make a case. The other ppl in the team aren’t willing to stick their necks out especially now that they’ve seen his way of retaliating so I won’t have anyone else coming forward to corroborate.

                  • +2 votes

                    @misswanderlust:

                    The other ppl in the team aren’t willing to stick their necks out especially now that they’ve seen his way of retaliating so I won’t have anyone else coming forward to corroborate.

                    Do yourself a favour and just leave at the earliest convenience. IT IS NOT WORTH YOUR TIME! TRUST ME!

                  •  

                    @misswanderlust: I think you should also document when 2IC and big boss asked you for feedback.

                    After meeting with HR you could email it to them so you have more evidence in case you ever have to go to Fair Work.

              • +5 votes

                @misswanderlust: Bring an emotional support clown to the meeting.

  • +2 votes

    Cant you take some steps like keeping a time sheet , take screenshots of your screen with time at the bottom at random times showing your work , saving multiple copies of your work as you do it , writing your name in white in the footer or code etc that you can present if needed to catch him in a lie with the big boss .

    You might not want to play office politics but you are now involved so probably the best result would be to look for a new job but at the same time have evidence to be able to counter his arguments if needed - which according to you should be easy since his incompetent and the worst person you worked for .

    • +1 vote

      Thanks for the advice. I’ve been covering my back ever since with lots of documentation but this guy is a schemer. He’s crap at his real job but he’s a liar, thief and lacks integrity so he’s not above making stuff up and causing issues for me out of nothing. I’ve tried to stand up for myself and fight back but it’s tiring to be constantly on guard. I’m so over it.

  • +6 votes

    Slash his tyres

  •  

    Next week 50c piece down the side

  • +1 vote

    If HR offer no support then getting out might be the best thing you can do. I had a boss who was a nightmare, and HR knew it, but he was protected by people above him. When they went, he went, but HR still had to find somewhere to move him to. I moved to a different area in the company to avoid him. I always make sure I keep my network going to keep my options open. HR doesn’t like to make waves. If you can’t get out completely see if you can move elsewhere in the organisation. Sounds like you have been stitched up. You always need to be very diplomatic about what you say if you want to keep your job.

    •  

      I’m looking both internally and outside to cover my bases. I’ve definitely learnt from this experience to trust no one. Your situation is very similar - I don’t know why this useless nightmare is being protected. my next role will be as far from him as possible.

      •  

        Unfortunately he may know someone via family or close friends at the top. Which sucks.
        Just be active on the sides looking for another job- sounds like a terrible company to work for anyway, and you don't want to be there long term for your personal health.
        Keep fighting but don't exhaust yourself too much. Put your faith in HR for now. Surely they've had complaints about this fvckwit before so he's possibly on watch already.

        But yeah, number one priority is getting out of there. Good luck and remember that once you're out of there the feeling of relief will be so rewarding. For now just focus on why you're there- for your family's well being.

        •  

          You’re right. This is a terrible company. Ppl don’t like this guy and everyone knows he’s incompetent but no one does anything about it or he somehow gets away with it. Thank you for reminding me what’s important. I really hope I’ll feel a sense of relief soon.

          •  

            @misswanderlust: Just hang in there, remember that you have a solid career ahead of you so don't get too anxious about this small blip on the radar of your life.
            But yeah, ask yourself, do I want to be in this job with this situation for the next 10 years?
            Hell naw!

            • +2 votes

              @murphy84: Good point - it is just a small blip. It feels like this huge issue right now but when it’s all resolved, I’ll look back and wonder why I was so affected. Just need to maintain perspective. And hell no I don’t intend to be in this job for the next 10 years. It’s already scarred me enough as it is!!

        • +3 votes

          Actually, considering the Boss told OP to confront the manager himself, I think that's less likely (he would just dismiss the accusations from the start). I think it's more likely the boss in ineffectual and doesn't like confrontation.

          I hope OP has success with HR, however if they were doing their job properly (even in advising and training the boss in HR matters) then they will already know about the issues on both sides. The fact that they haven't done anything already leaves me skeptical.

  •  

    Just ignore that he exists.

  • +12 votes

    If big boss is unwilling to help with HM, find a new job, then resign.
    I know you don't want to give him the satisfaction of leaving, but once you start a new job, he won't matter to you anymore. He'll just be some prick you used to work with, who's now someone else's problem.
    Don't forget to take all your no questions asked stress leave before you go.

    • +1 vote

      Thanks. You’re right - I don’t want him to win bc it reinforces his behaviour is ok and he’ll just keep doing this to other ppl. But at the same time, I need to get out and get my sanity back. I’ll definitely be taking the stress leave.

  • +2 votes

    I don't think you are cutout for office politics. These people will just keep on laying more and more traps for you and you'll just get more and more stressed.

  • +28 votes

    In every single job I’ve held, HR staff have easily been the most incompetent people in the building. I dare say you’d have a better chance of winning the powerball this Thursday than finding an HR officer who does their job properly.

    Right now, the HR team sits across the corridor from me and I can hear them talking shit about the people they’re supposed to look after. At the end of the day, they just don’t want to do any paperwork, whether that be firing someone or helping someone.

  • +17 votes

    HR look after the company not the people. You're just a resource to them.

    The grass is greener on the other side. Bite the bullet and start looking for other jobs. Don't abuse it but start taking mental health days.

    • -5 votes

      but if you make a bullying complaint they will bend over backwards whether true or not in order to not get sued, so they will do something about it.
      i have seen an utter moron at work make up b.s. bullying complaints as they were about to get the a$$, end result, they didnt get the a$$ and 4 good people quit due to the b.s. hr process, and the utter moron is still unaware people left because of them

      sad world.

      • +2 votes

        I've dealt with a bullying manager previously. HR was no help and they only left after his manager realised how incompetent he was and structured him out.

  • +14 votes

    So what you are saying is that you have no reason to even be remotely polite or civil to HM any more. Drop some C-bombs under your breathe when he passes, but smile every time you are around him. Make him super uncomfortable around you, like draw your finger across your throat to him if you are alone and not on camera. You also need to practice a crazy smile.
    There are many ways to make him never want to be around you ever again.

    But hey, that's just me.

    • -1 vote

      Cowards are bravest when anonymous.

      •  

        Who's is being brave? People are so soft these days that it is super easy to make being really uncomfortable.

        Thirteen years of working in pubs and clubs has given me plenty of experience in dealing with people. Had a gun held to my head, I have lost count of how many people have pulled weapons on me and told me they will kill me while standing within a metre of me, have had to go into hundreds of fights by myself to break it up, been punched in the head numerous time, and been sent to hospital more than once. Now currently working in a low socioeconomic area and constantly dealing with druggies every day and night.

        But yeah, feel free to imply I'm a coward.

  • +2 votes

    sounds like academia

  • +2 votes

    simple goto HR report bullying, and that will not be going to work till its sorted out. Of ocurse you will be paid.

  •  

    There is a scene out of fight club that comes to mind. How are you at bashing yourself up in his office? Seems like HR should have been involved long ago.

    Who owns the company? Who has the most to lose from our the politics going on? If it doesn't work out with HR and your days seem numbered then maybe through some grenades at the top.

    • +2 votes

      It’s a large, bureaucratic company where middle management justify their existence through politics and drama. My grenades won’t hurt anyone at the top. It will just get buried or swept under the carpet. This issue I’m having is just a petty nuisance to them - they won’t lose anything, whereas for me it’s causing sleepless nights, stress and anxiety.

      •  

        A large company might help you, they might be a bit sensitive about a bullying boss. Just be diplomatically honest. They might help you find an alternate area rather than have this blow up on them. Best of luck.

        •  

          Thank you. I will try to keep my emotions out of it and be diplomatic. Even if they find an alternate area for me, it won’t be possible in the short term. I’ve kept an eye on the internal job board for a while now and nothing has come up.

  • +1 vote

    I escalated to the big boss and was dismissed and told to work it out with HM

    Workplace culture is heavily influenced from the top. Due to all the meetings etc, big boss is already aware of the issues that are brewing. If he decides to wash his hands now (knowing how power dynamic works and that you are pretty much at the mercy of HM), that is an indication he is not really interested in fixing the culture problem that exists.

    It is a sign you should find another job and resign. No point staying at a place with a toxic culture.

    •  

      Yep 100% agree. He has washed his hands of this and is one of the reasons for the toxic culture.

      • +2 votes

        Start to look for a new job. The faster you get out of a toxic workplace, the better. All the very best to you on this front.

  • +1 vote

    You may be eligible for a remedy under the anti-bullying provisions for workplace bullying. Complete this quiz to find out if you are.

    Where possible, workers should try to address issues of bullying at work within the workplace. There may be processes already in place in the workplace to deal with issues of bullying, such as a bullying policy or a grievance procedure.

    Obviously, raise the issue with HR, the health & safety rep and/or union first. Contacting FairWork is the last resort.

  •  

    Bullying Manager - What to Do?

    Here's what you want to do.

    1. Call the manager names.
    2. Do the why are you hitting yourself.
    3. "You walked into my moving arms".
  • +1 vote

    There's always that 1 person at every place . Big boss doesn't care, been around and got more important things to worry about. Smile and don't worry about it in front of other people. Wait like a wolf and attack, treat it like a game don't make it personal in front of everyone and never quit you have a family. Also tell the higher management that you love working there and have a family to support but you heard a rumor other wise, if they hear of any problems please talk to you about their concerns.

  • -1 vote

    Bikies

  • +3 votes

    This is an awful situation, and the sooner you leave the better. There's lots of advice re HR here, and on the whole, they are there to protect the company, so if you want to go down a litigious path, you're better to consult with the union and their legal staff. It's hard work, though, and you may have more peace of mind taking more sick leave abd focussing on looking after your mental health, while you find another job. I wish you all the best, and hope you find something else quickly.

  • +5 votes

    It’s a toxic environment, leave before you waste anymore time,
    Life is too short to play games like this.
    I made the same mistake and stayed eight years, did nothing, then I was booted!
    Regrets, I have a few….

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