We have all experienced or worked with candidates who have had their careers impacted by a toxic or just plain crazy manager, supervisor or boss. I am working with a young woman whom i have had interaction with for the past two years who has suffered at the hands of one of these lunatics unlike i have ever seen in my 30 years as a recruiter.
At age 19 she started as a sales and customer service rep for a household word telecommunications company. She was the leading sales rep within a short time earning over 100K a year for several years. She was offered a promotion several times to a manager level position and turned it down as it would mean that she would take a significant cut in pay. Finally realizing that if she did not accept the promotion she would forever be at the current level she made the decision to try and advance her career and make the move. At the time she accepted the promotion the Sr. Manager who had promoted her accepted another position with the company and a new Sr. Manager who had been a first level manager for 20 years was promoted into his position. The new Sr. Manager let it be known that she did not think this young woman should have been promoted. (You see the storm clouds on the horizon). My candidate's promotion was finally approved.
Within 7 months early 2008, the new Sr. Manager called her in and told her that she was helping male employees more than she was helping female employees and had been talking to them about non business related matters. She was written up for a violation of the code of business conduct. The situation was that she had been assigned to a new training class of sales reps. Several of the new trainees were guys that she had gone to high school with who were planning their first high school reunion and as they knew her they were more comfortable going to her for help than some of the other trainees. Ok, she acknowledged that yes she probably had talked with them about non business matters , the reunion, and yes she probably had helped them more than other trainees as they felt comfortable coming to her because she knew them before they started. Reasonable concern and she would correct it, which she did.
What followed in the next two years was a series of the most bizarre manager - direct report situations on the planet.
She was called in and told that it had been reported that she had come into the office trying to buy marijuana from some of the reps while she was on vacation. The week she was supposed to have done this insanity she had been out of the city at a company training seminar for two days of the week, had taken vacation time and stayed in the other city for the remaining three days. The office has a security situation requiring a key card. She suggested to her boss that she check the security records to determine if her key card had been used and offered to provide hotel receipts to prove she not even in the city and take a drug test to prove that she had not and did not smoke dope. Her boss told her that would not be necessary, she believed her.
Her boss then made a career for the next two weeks of asking almost all of the 170 employees in the center if they had ever seen her outside of work smoke marijuana. When asked why she was talking to everyone in the office creating the question as to my candidate smoking dope her boss informed her that it was her job to investigate every complaint no matter how absurd. When asked why the boss had indicated that a drug test was not necessary when that would have proved that the girl had not used any drug and the report had been that she came into the office to try and buy drugs which was easily negated by checking the key card access. The boss responded that even though that complaint could be proven wrong it was her job to determine if the girl did smoke dope as maybe a drug test could be manipulated.
As no one had ever seen this young woman smoke dope that one seemed to go by the boards and nothing more was said to my candidate and it had been proven a false report. Or so my candidate thought.
Stay tuned for part II this is long an bizarre story that will convince anyone that there are insane, vindictive, crazy people in management positions who should be exterminated.
Sounds like Part 2 is going to get legal and you could be deposed as a possible witness for the defense relative to corroborating a hostile work environment. Yes?
Wow!! I hope that this woman has a happy ending and that the supervisor gets her medication in order to prevent this type of imbalanced, absurd and inefficient activity.
So far from all I know you win the horror story award.
All the best,
It is indeed a horror story and i am sure perhaps an extreme of what happens to many bright young women in corporate America and always has. I once had a she boss who informed me that although my production had broken every record the agency had ever had, that her best employee was one who if told to put a note on the left corner of the desk, put it there and always filled out all the forms and reports. It mattered not that that my cash in for the company was over 100K in 1975. It was more important to bring in 50K and do exactly as i was told. Thus was planted the seed that grew into my own business a few short years later. The power of control is often more important to these types than the success of the business.
This supervisor will continue to do exactly what she has done for 30 years as the numbers decline, the head count goes down and eventually she will retire with a good pension over the broken careers of many bright people. This young woman will go on to hopefully be a better manager in the future because like many women in business she has suffered at the hands of a petty sheboss who lives in the mid management of many large corporations where they can and do this kind of garbage on a daily basis. A little power in the hands of a petty person is an ugly thing to watch. And as one of my colleagues remarked, "And we wonder why there is workplace violence". My candidate knew it was coming even told this person at one time. "I know you are going to at sometime fire me, but i am going to try and do my job but i do not understand your laser focus on trying to destroy me, i am one of the best employees you have." She was perhaps a much better and successful employee than this manager had ever been so generated a certain level of jealousy and a determination on the part of this supervisor to make sure that she did not surpass what the manager had been able to accomplish.
Who knows the motivation of sick and petty mind. There are many more small details in this story that make one's stomach turn. I have just hit the highlights of the most outrageous.
The rest of the story is in parts 2,3 and 4 that have slipped off the thread. She did keep a journal. Unfortunately she made the mistake that many people make. She kept the journal in her office. When she was put on administrative leave it was in her desk and she was not allowed to remove anything from her office. When she was terminated and cleaned out her office the journal along with her personal copies of her annual evaluations and a copy of a reccomendation letter written to her personally by a national trainer had been removed from her desk. When asked about it her supervisor denied any knowledge of the journal and took the position that the annual reviews were company proprietary information along with the rec letter.
Lesson number one. If you are in a situation like this keep your journal at home along with your personal copies of your annual reviews. she has of course been denied access to her personnel file. Also make a note of any other employees who might have witnessed the bullying or inappropriate behavior.
Lawsuits for wrongful termination are almost impossible in Texas unless one is a member of a protected group. A supervisor like this who will lie to employees will also lie under oath because most things that happen like this happen on a one to one basis with no witnesses. These cagey old shebosses are very clever about making it her word against that of a lower senority employee and intimidating other employees who are afraid for their jobs.