So then...

About Me

Welcome to my blog. My pen name is Eva James. I'm an aspiring writer paying the bills working as a legal secretary. Relentlessly bullied by my former boss, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I recorded everything in this blog, which serves as a revealing insight into workplace bullying. WEEK 1 starts the story and, as the weeks progress, you'll note what starts as banter soon spirals out of control. Sadly, it's all true. Whilst along the way I've found alternative employment, my passion for blogging about workplace bullying remains. Trevor Griffiths, legendary theatre, TV and film writer said at the outset, "I like the writing a lot: smart, cool, placed. If you were prepared/able to take your prick of a boss on, you'd marmelise him."

Saturday, 26 January 2013

WEEK 261 Dr Google

A big thanks to @UNISONNews for sending me this link to a TED talk by Clive Boddy about Bullying and Corporate Psycopaths. His statistics are interesting, but there is an inherent danger in identifying corporate psychopaths at work. And it might not be what you expect.

Labelling your bully can be rewarding, but only up to a point. Attributing the psychopath label can be a bit academic. If you’re being tormented at work for 8 hours a day, whether you're working with a psychopath, sociopath or someone who sits somewhere on an autistic spectrum is pretty irrelevant. At first, having read a number of on-line articles, I believed my bully to be a sociopath. Later, I wondered whether he might be on the Asperger's spectrum. Later, I realised the arrogance of this. I diagnosed someone I hardly knew, with a complete lack of medical or psychological training.

Labelling people is easy to do, but much less easy to prove. Clive Boddy points out in the TED talk, “Psychopaths have absolutely no conscience”. But how on earth do we know for sure that someone has absolutely no conscience? We often don’t see these people outside the work environment, let alone have a glimpse into their psyche.

We’re often encouraged to diagnose our bullying colleagues, but as I point out in, Bullied by the Boss (Amazon, 2012):

“Stereotyping and labelling bullies is dangerous because it reinforces the very egocentric bias that allows bullying to happen in the first place. We tell ourselves they are inherently bad people and we are inherently good. Isn’t that the very thinking that [my bully] adopted? He believed he was an all-round better, more worthwhile and valuable person than I was. 

“We can’t dehumanise people who dehumanise people and expect a positive result. I can’t help being reminded that, whilst these experts’ Orwellian ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others’ philosophy is understandable, it puts us at risk of adopting the same behaviour we claim to abhor”.

Perhaps it's human nature to search for labels in an attempt to undertstand a predicament which is patently unfair and makes no sense. But it's always going to be more helpful to look at what we can do to get out of a situation, rather than put our faith in any diagnosis from Dr Google.

Very best

Saturday, 12 January 2013

WEK 260 Career Ladder

At the start of this week, the Telegraph published a comprehensive story about the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust public inquiry which resulted in only one of many NHS executives being blamed for appalling patient care actually being disciplined. The other executives, it seems, went on unscathed with their ascent up the career ladder.

The Telegraph was particularly interested in Mr Yates, the Trust’s CEO, who refused to give evidence on the grounds that his stress was great enough to ruin all future employment. Mr Yeates left with £400,000 and a pension of approximately £1.27 million. What happened to him next career terms is astonishing. As the Telepgraph explains:

Mr Yeates has now returned to the health care sector, with a job as chief executive of a Shropshire-based charity, Impact Alcohol and Addiction Services, which holds contracts with the NHS.”

So that fact that Mr Yates was blamed for appalling patient care, refused to give evidence or present himself for cross-examination and left proclaiming he would never return doesn't seem to have harmed his career.

If you want to talk about a culture of fear, this is it. It doesn’t look like it on the surface, perhaps. But this is how it works. You’d think a fall off the career ladder would lead to permanent damage. However, it appears that when you get to the top of the ladder, you're at a point where the ladders meet. That’s when people are invincible. It's like a club, and it’s the people at the bottom of the ladder that fall off. 

As the Telegraph explains, Mr Yeates imposed widespread job cuts to the rungs of the ladder below him. He saw that the NHS spent over a million on redundancies and over 150 nurses left through redundancy or retirement in a two year period. 

In such circumstances, who do you complain to when your ward is hopelessly short staffed because the top brass have failed to replace nurses who have retired? Who can help with rising stress levels when all the nurses on a ward are being re-interviewed for their current jobs as they’re all in a redundancy pool?

Even when a public enquiry specifically blames individuals at the top, it seems they’re made of Teflon. And the stress, fear and frustration of working in such a culture cannot result in anything but a lowering standard in patient care - which nobody wants.

Until we shake the incompetent from the top of the ladder, I don’t see how things will change.

Very best

Bottom Swirl