10 out of 10 for meeting in Starbucks and Nero.
-10 for recruiting ND.
Asking me how I would rank from a scale of 1-10 meeting with you, it took me a couple of years to understand why you asked that. I’m sorry, but I had other problems on my mind than scratching your ego.
It was never important to me to meet with a “big gun”, it was my line managers I wanted to meet, but they were too unequipped and some even indifferent to meet with me. They either bullied me, avoided me, overworked me, gave me small tasks where I had much more skill and talents, keeping me low…
I am sorry I couldn’t rank our meeting. It was more important to me what would really help me, not what would help you.
It was often difficult and painful for me when I felt that some of you were more concerned about how it helped you dealing with me, instead of what would help me. It seemed like I was this nut to be cracked, and whoever cracked that nut won and their egos got strengthened.
For some it was their ego that needed to get fed, for others it was their insecurity that needed a boost. For another my “insights” into many things as they said was handy for essays on anger for psychotherapy studies at Uni.
But all I needed was transparency and integrity. Without those your nutcrackers are useless. You broke your nutcrackers on this nut.
You know your people business partner ND was like a red thread throughout my turmoil. Looking at everything from a distance and in hindsight now it seems like he got “obsessed” with my case.
Yes, sounds crazy, I know. But you know my case like no other, you know the whole story, you have access to all the data and people. Have a look who was involved and made the decisions to have CasW not in the first grievance hearing that she has raised. His involvement with IvH in my ordeal. And later choosing the hearing managers and why he chose them.
He was present at my first informal HR approach in the May 2015 meeting where the notes that were taken by JD later “disappeared”.
He was in the background advising the group manager IvH who targeted me for 6 months.
My grievance that I raised against him where he “coincidentally” stood in the open area on the phone winking over to the HR advisor who walked me out after the grievance hearing.
He “coincidentally” bumped into me in the toilet after another grievance hearing.
After the CEO got involved when I emailed him for help, ND was suddenly keen to arrange counselling for me. He constantly wanted for Axa to get access to my medical file. How can you asked an employee who became bereaved for their medical file? They are bereaved, you were not willing to just simply sit down with a bereaved person, instead you wanted to go straight to the private life of that person.
You know what was a good sign for me that you cared? It was when you chose to have a representative with you when GaDr did the investigation in the appeal’s hearing regarding ND, while ND didn’t want or thought it necessary to have a representative.
I thought that ND’s self assured absence of a representative, which can come across as arrogant, might have lead him to believe that he is invincible or plain careless.
You took my grievance pretty serious then because you knew I was on the trail to something.
So, throughout my whole ordeal, where Nick Davis was always in the background “pulling the strings” I tried to tell you what he was doing. Of course as he was the PBP for my area, you may say that is why he was involved. And when he wrote to you that I questioned his integrity, you bet I questioned his integrity after what he put me through via a group of leaders. He didn’t have a problem at all when he read the email of the line manager who wrote twice in one long email to his boss that my “situation” (bereavement) was “imposed” on him. Your PBP was only concerned about the length of the email and not discrimination like this.
You know my ill behaviour in emailing really kicked off when I received my file, of which Nick emailed me to inform that the file is ready and if I want to come by HQ to pick it up or have it send to me. This question was another of his “passive aggressive” way to retaliate for me having involved the CEO. I wrote to him after I received the file that it was funny that he was willing for me to carry a box of heavy papers through town.
This “file” was a blessing and a curse. A blessing because all my gut feeling that I was targeted was then right in front of me, black on white. A curse, because my emailing really started then out of this turmoil, and as you know I also started to drink then which worsened everything, especially the tone of my emails. I am really sorry about that and am working hard still to come to terms.
You chose not to look closer, maybe because I upset you when I wasn’t impressed to have had the meetings with you, where I couldn’t scale from 1-10 how it was for me. It was not about you or how this made you feel that this “nut” of myself was meeting you, dear Head of HR.
I really did appreciate you having taken the time, but I needed my line managers to meet with me instead of avoiding or bullying me. It was my line managers that I saw every single day, shoulder to shoulder, who were not skilled or willing to just treat me normal and respectful.
In my grief that turned into illness it was torture to have been under management who seemed to have gotten a kick out of my vulnerability.
I am sure I have to overcome some bitter feelings to heal. But I am proud to have stood as best I can under intense mistreatment. No amount of money or success can teach me what I have learned, Sir. Money and success can rather spoil you if that is all you know. But when the storm hits and the floor underneath you is pulled away, what are we made of then?
So, ND got what he wanted in the end, my dismissal, but did he gain the respect and admiration from his team? I am sure he’d like to see me completely destroyed. All the HR advisors who witnessed and were involved in my case, the HR advisor who took the notes in the grievance hearing against ND whom he winked at after the hearing. I saw the empathy and care in the faces of the HR advisors, but to protect their own jobs and position, they couldn’t do anything. I don’t blame them. And I will never forget LaEl, she passed on my concerns further and she was the most professional of all. HR advisors will move on and in years to come my case will still be talked about, and if my knowledge of life and people hasn’t completely abandoned me, I venture to say that one or the other HR advisor will say in hindsight that I was wronged majorly, and hopefully make a difference in an employees life who might go through similar trauma.
ND will move on as well and I hope for him that his heart wouldn’t have gotten so calloused to really make a difference using his position in a good way.
And I will never get my head and heart around what you guys have done with involving LiWa the way you did. I kept telling her from the beginning that it wasn’t fair on her. But she’s a “big girl” like SaNe said. She needs to get to her own place of responsibility and what she chose to do.
After years of being rebuked, shouted at, threatened with our job securities, the rude tone of managers has unfortunately affected my tone. It is no excuse for me to have gotten so rude myself, but the fact that I wasted 10 years of my life and still during the darkest time of my life still being treated so badly, while I was continued to give 150%, and trying to help you to improve true and genuine support for traumatized people, I can only quote a writer: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.” — Anne Lamott
So, from a scale of 1-10, I still cannot answer that question. I can only say thank you for your effort and patience, and believe me that I’m so sorry I was so angry. The pain just was too much.
If I can manage to not get a calloused heart myself, I’d be in good shape. But for sure I will try and turn this mess into a message, that part is what I’m not only left with, but it is an opportunity that I have that opened another door in life. You all were many, you are a team that know each other for many years. I was alone in my ordeal, not knowing who to trust, and you proved that you cannot be trusted, especially when you did what you did with the development manager.
And one thing also, to dismiss me just after Christmas while my dad just came out of a coma still in intensive care, that was quite something! My father has died now and that is another book on what I went through flying back and forth again between his bed side and looking for a job here, while also looking after my mum.
I don’t know if I should put all this into one or several books. Where do I start? Should I write about grief, or grief at work, or bullying behaviour at work, or grief at work while being targeted, or a toxic work environment? And if this manager’s emailing was “the shortest [professional] suicide note in history” as her Union representative called it, my emailing certainly was the longest.
And you know all the terrible twitters recently. But no more suicide notes from me, only my story.
Maybe I’ll write a completely different book on redemption, forgiveness, anger and peace… I don’t want to be bitter, and certainly not angry anymore. But I certainly have a lot to share and tell my story. And believe me I don’t like my terrible communication. But it is all I have left. And if you want to take that as well, then I will find a way to keep speaking and writing and sharing my story.
Thank you for reading.
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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