Saturday, April 12, 2008

Just Desserts

I haven't spoken too much on this blog concerning my time working for a "toxic" manager. I went to work for him in 2005. I'd already been working for the company for 12 years, and 4 of those in my current position. He was brand new to the company and they decided to make him the HR department supervisor, with the promise of a promotion to manager once he completed his schooling. The company gave him time off during the week to attend school, paid his tuition and promoted him. I was actually transferred to a different building to work with him, as the other HR managers thought that I was the person most likely to get along with him. They assured me that I would like him - he was funny, very amiable, smart and an overall nice guy. The assistant who would have been assigned to him was a very caustic woman - she rubs everyone the wrong way. (Why she is in HR is beyond me.)

From the time I started working for him, he seemed to pick at every little thing I did. Every letter would be sent back to me, reworded. Every posting had to be changed. Every employee discussion I typed up was not the way he wanted it. I was really puzzled by this, as I'd worked for two other HR managers and no one had a problem with any of my work before. I chalked it up to an inexperienced young man trying to make an impression on his new employers. But things just got worse and worse. He was a passive-agressive type personality and he latched onto my weakness -low self-esteem. My working life got worse and worse as I started to doubt myself at every turn. He asked for reports and when I finished them, would tell me he changed his mind - do it another way.

In the months that followed, he started to treat me rudely, ignored me, did not keep me informed of things going on in our building (things I needed to know). He was secretive, always had his door shut, never told me when he was leaving the building or where he was going. Other department managers would come to me asking me where he was or if he would be in his office that day. I didn't know and had to tell them I didn't know. That only made me look stupid. I spent my days crying at my desk, not knowing what I was doing wrong or why things had taken such a sour turn. When I wasn't crying, I was eating. I gained 50 pounds while working for him. The other HR managers I had worked for stopped by to see me once in a while and asked me how everything was going. I told them it was awful. No one even asked me what was wrong. How could they not see the red swollen eyes or how upset I was? I felt abandoned by the entire department.

I went to his boss. Basically the answer was to stop whining. Different people have different management styles.

Even my friends kept their distance. I would confide to my best friend the way he treated me, and all she could say was that she couldn't see it. He was always nice and friendly to her. Everyone loved him.

By the end of 2005, he had driven me into such a deep depression I found myself consulting a doctor. He put me on medication and once it kicked in, I felt I had something to grasp onto to save me. To anyone who doesn't understand the impact of depression - I felt that I was slipping into a deep dark hole. The sides of the hole were muddy and the more I tried to climb out, the more I slipped deeper until there was almost no light to be seen above. I lost interest in everything around me. My love of crochet even failed me. My family couldn't understand what was wrong with me. I told them things were bad at work, but didn't want to burden everyone with "my failings".

I tried to bid out of the department. The first time he told me I would have to take a huge cut in pay (not true, I've since found out). The second time I asked him if he minded if I put in a bid for another job (a promotion) in another building. He was very agreeable - told me it would be a good job for me. I prepared my resume and sent it with a cover letter. He needed to attach his recommendation to it and forward it to the hiring manager. I waited for over a month for a call for an interview. I asked my friend who also put in for the job (less seniority than me) whether she had heard anything regarding the position. She looked very sad and had to admit she had a second interview scheduled for the job. She said she was afraid to tell me that they skipped over me. I called the hiring manager to ask if I needed to improve my cover letter or work on my resume - just wanted to know the reason they skipped me. She got quiet, and then said she only got one resume - my friend's resume. The devil never turned mine in.

Things have improved over the last year. I was better able to cope with his antics, which included dumping his responsibilities in my lap at every turn. I kept up with them as best I could. I started crocheting again last June and even though I still don't make items at the rate I used to, it's getting better. God bless my sweet husband for sticking with me. I know it's been difficult for him too.

I finally feel vindicated now. It came to light late last year that "Mr. Wonderful" had stolen some money from the company (charity funds destined for breast cancer research, no less). He was fired, they changed all the locks in the building and there was a huge investigation. They believe that he also helped himself to some other company funds, but they are still investigating that one. They are prosecuting. He has in fact been arraigned, and it was brought to light that he had 2 prior convictions for this. He should be doing some time in prison when this is all over.

I may have been the only person to whom he showed his true nature. I am the only one who isn't shocked by these revelations. I just thank God that I was strong enough to seek help when I needed it before he drove me to the breaking point.

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