Thursday, November 21, 2013

Workplace Bullying It Can Happen To You

One of the things I caution workers about is workplace bullying. Even though I was an experienced professional before I got to NYC, I experienced it upon my arrival in NYC. It is a nasty experience for the workers and the public we serve. How do we begin to treat the public with respect when management  brutalizes the workers.

When I was being bullied coworkers said "keep your head down". We do not say this to victims of domestic abuse, nor should we say this to people enduring workplace bullying. The union was not very helpful as there are no laws covering workplace bullying. Unfortunately, unless the abuse falls into a protected class there is little that can be done. In my case it did fall into a protected class eventually. What made the abuse more insidious was my second line supervisor ordered the first line to be abusive. I complained above the second line and was told go through your chain of command. Human resources was next to useless and at best will offer counseling at worst side with the abusers.

Miraculously, once my abuser was sent to the rubber room my evaluations returned to above average. I tell people that I am the same worker, merely freed from daily abuse. I channeled this energy into mentoring new officers and those who listen to my techniques do well. I never expected to be a leader or mentor to so many peers. New management grasps that I am a pressure performer. The other day a peer froze and I had to perform additional work. It was not a big deal and I shifted my schedule handled it and returned to my assigned duties. 

We do have a manager who has these tendencies and she went off on maternity leave. Her flunkies had the nerve to ask me to give her some of my annual leave. I gave a clerk 28 hours and a fellow officer 45 hours for her maternity leave. To this very day I do not speak to this supervisor. When she addresses me it is a one word response yes or okay. In this person's case her buffoonish behavior cost her a weeks pay. Allegedly, motherhood has changed her. However, I have no interest in interacting with this person. I have told her if it is work related I will perform my assigned tasks. I have no interest in idle chit chat, due to her previous actions. The best thing one can do with a workplace bully is avoid them and keep all interactions to a minimum. Document everything and take the issue directly to management.

My current supervisor is a stronger individual and has told this person to worry about her own workers. In my case, I pretty much perform my work and keep my boss informed. It is normal behavior for an experienced team member.

I am one of the most popular coworkers in my unit with an outstanding reputation for fairness with the local legal community. I am still the same professional, yet I was once bullied in the same job. Special rules unique to me we created and enforced only on me. Positive attributes were spun into negatives for the sole purpose of damaging my reputation. I was charged with things that were physically impossible. How was I AWOL
if I heard six cases and your own records show it? 

All workers need to be held accountable for their actions. However, supervisors need to be held to the same standard of ethics as everyone else. Oddly, in my specific cases, the abusers seem to have acquired their positions through nepotism. In both cases the abusers had a parent working for the same agency and received promotions their performance likely did not warrant. A genuine leader has no need to abuse others to make themselves look good. An incompetent whose abilities and performance are dubious at best will 
can abuse others in an attempt to cover up their lack of skills.

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