Finding direction in an unfair workplace

Photo care of Ramkarthikblogger http://flic.kr/p/78sGPw

My mind has been in a whirlwind the past two weeks, with so many ups and downs, and changes in ‘strategy’ to dealing with my hostile work environment. Now that I am here documenting what has happened it all looks so clear and black and white in hindsight, so obvious that I should take this course of action, but even just one week ago it wasn’t at all so clear and I was headed in a different direction. I guess what I’m trying to say is – when you are being bullied in the workplace you might not even realise it. And when you don’t know what’s going on, you’re confused and stressed and unhappy and lost and have no clear path forward because everything you do seems to be ‘wrong’ and get you in trouble with the boss.

Identifying and defining the problem has in itself been a weight off my shoulders. Now I know it’s not me (it’s not my fault, it’s not about whether I am or am not a nice or difficult person or a good or incompetent worker) most of the emotional baggage and indecision is removed. As far as my boss goes I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t, so there’s no point me stressing so much about it.

Better yet, when I started googling and researching the issue of bullying bosses, it led me to the realisation that this is an Occupational Health & Safety (oh&s) issue. Under the workplace relations code it is your boss’s care of duty requirement to create a safe working environment, but in her creating a stressful environment she is failing this.

This means that if I want to raise a complaint I don’t have to argue “she’s being mean to me”, which is a more personal, emotional, harder to prove, and not necessarily illegal action – instead I can raise the oh&s hazard of stress she’s creating in the workplace (and failing to counteract). This is so much easier to prove, and doesn’t have to be about “me” because our dysfunctional work environment is causing stress for the whole team.

Exploring the workplace codes there are in fact several points my boss has failed on, and it is with some relief to see it in black and white of the code spelled out what our rights are knowing that she is on the wrong side of them – this gives me something concrete to base my complaints on.

And this is the breakthrough for me. When I was in the midst of it, feeling confused and miserable and helpless, I couldn’t see any path forward except to put my head down, hope to avoid my bosses wrath, and prepare to look for a new job. At the same time my self confidence was so low from being told all the time that I was doing everything wrong and that noone liked me (and without any positive references from my boss and nothing to show that felt like an “achievement” from this job) I didn’t think I’d be able to get another job as good as this one. I felt lost.

Now I have direction. I am writing down incidents I’ve observed of her bullying myself and other team members, and as I do it becomes more and more clear, with logic and reason, how she has broken her duty of care. The emotion of the situation is removed, and I am reclaiming the self confidence she stole from me. I am reading up on the codes and working out the path to making a complaint – if I choose to.

I am realising that she controls people by lying and implying incompetence, making people feel ashamed of themselves and disconnected from other team members – and that has made me start reaching out to other team members, to make sure they are alright and know it is not them, and I am determined to build better connectedness and morale amongst out team so we are all happier and stronger.

Where before I was feeling helpless and powerless and alone – a victim – now I have regained direction and strength and think I can help other team members, so that together we can creative a happier healthier united workplace. And hopefully, together, we can get rid of our bullying boss.

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