Bullying is in the news. It would appear to be a lot more prevalent than most people assum. Yet there has been very little advice on how to survive a bully .Here are my tips as a survivor.
The formal processes are not really designed for tackling a senior manger. So this is how to survive whilst finding another job.
Avoid the bully. It’s amazing how much of your job you can do without seeing your manager or talking about work. Keep them off work topics by talking about whatever they are interested in whenever possible. Don’t take your holidays at the same time this way you can spend the best part of summer without seeing them. Six weeks annual leave is twelve weeks you don’t have to meet. One to ones can be stressful so seize the initiative fill the agenda with information about what’s happening in your section/service. Fill the time and don’t leave space for the introduction of contentious areas or opportunities to criticise you or your work. Offer to turn the notes you made in preparation for the meeting into a record of the meeting. That way you control the record of the meeting reducing the chances that they will be used to further undermine you. Never re-arrange a meeting they have cancelled and make sure your diary has no gaps when they are free.
Resisting new and unreasonable demands can be difficult since you are clearly not allowed to say no or point out you already have too much to do. One perfectly reasonable strategy is to say that you are happy to take on new pieces of work but as you are fully stretched with existing work what would they advise are the priorities. You then run through all your existing pieces of work just to remind them. I once did this and my manager stormed out of his own office. I’m not sure whether this is a good recommendation for this course of action but at the time it felt like a small victory of sorts.
I survived the last six months by changing his diary when his PA was out to lunch. All meetings were entered in pencil because if someone more senior wanted his attendance this took priority. He was forever cancelling his meetings and rearranging his diary. I just rubbed out the meetings. The space would be quickly filled. I didn’t complain about the lack of opportunities to meet and he either didn’t notice or didn’t care. Not a long term strategy but sometimes you just have to do whatever it takes to get you through the next few weeks.
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