Tell us about a time when you fought authority and took a stand against “the man.” Did you win?
There was a situation with one of my employers a couple of years ago. An accusation was made against me (which was false, and completely ludicrous), and without following the companies own policies and procedures in dealing with issues like this, the manager at the time made a complete mess of it.
There were so many facets of this ‘case’ that were just so badly dealt with, I don’t even know where to start.
Let’s start with the instigator. The complaint. So, after I was initially told that there was a complaint made against me, I started to ask questions, and the reality was that somebody had made a passing comment to somebody else, which a third party had overheard. That third party then said something to a fourth person, and then that fourth person brought it to the attention of my manager. So in summation, it all started because of ‘Chinese Whispers’.
What a great professional start!
So, from there, all I was told was that a complaint was made against me, and that I would have to attend a meeting in order to plead my case. I was given a meeting time and date, which I couldn’t make because of my other job, so I set about setting up a mutually acceptable date / time. I was then informed that I was able to bring a support person, and when I said I was bringing Hulk, I was promptly informed that wasn’t an option, as Hulk was supposedly ‘banned’ from the premises, due to being an ex-employee.
At no point during this phase was I actually informed WHAT the complaint actually was. I was going to be informed when I turn up at the meeting. Kind of like an ambush. Sorry, I’m not having that. Perhaps you should read your own HR Manuals…
So, naturally, I went over the managers head, and straight to HR to find out what was what. Granted, as soon as I mentioned the involvement of solicitors, they were more than forthcoming with information about the case. With this new-found information, I went back to my manager and accused her of her complete lack of respect for me as an employee and even just as a human being for being treated the way she was treating me; I informed her that I was completely disappointed in her lack of professionalism, and for the fact that she was trying to build a case out information that she heard ‘through the grapevine’ and couldn’t even confirm with the alleged source of the initial comment. I told her how much I had lost respect for her simply for even entertaining the possibility that any of it was even remotely true – why would I want to do anything like I was being accused of, when knowing that the actual ramifications of such action would jeopardise not just my job, but my career as well. I also pointed out to her several points that I had been given by HR, and informed her that she is in no position to dictate who I can and cannot bring as a support person, and also informed her that Hulk was by no means banned from the premises, as he was still paying his own fees.
Are you fucking kidding me? I just couldn’t believe that this was even happening.
So, when I sent the email, I cc’d it to HR and the Club Manager, and then it blew up.
I got a response from the Club Manager saying that he was now taking control of the case, and that protocol dictates that we still need to have a meeting to discuss the issues. After a multitude of emails back and forth, repeatedly expressing my overwhelming disappointment in the way I was being treated, not to mention that I had been removed from my role whilst the ‘investigation’ continued, and the unbearable stress, anxiety and depression this whole situation had caused, we finally agreed on a meeting date off-site.
I turned up to the meeting with Hulk, and the manager who caused the whole problem didn’t show. She didn’t even have the decency to face me, because she knew – we ALL knew – she had handled the whole situation so poorly. Her not turning up, was the cherry on the cake.
But the absolute kicker was turning up to the meeting with the Club Manager and Regional Manager only to discover that NEITHER OF THEM really knew what the whole issue was. They had only been involved when I started including them in the emails I was sending them, and the woman at the centre of it all hadn’t given them the whole story.
So after spending all this time relaying the entire case point by point in a who-did-what, who-said-what way, even the Club Manager was sitting there basically saying ‘well, I don’t believe any of this for a second. You’re one of our best employees, and you’ve been with us for so long. We’ve had nothing but incredible reports from others about you, and you’ve always been highly praised and recommended by your peers… so I think that this was all completely blown out of proportion…’
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I wanted to leap across the table and punch him in the throat. ARE YOU SERIOUS?!!? Granted, had he known the whole story from the very beginning, he would have probably just squashed the whole situation, and it wouldn’t have blown up the way it did.
It was quite an anti-climax. I went in there ready to fight, and rip somebody’s face off. I was so fired up… and it didn’t happen. All they did was apologise for the way it was handled, but it wasn’t good enough. I told them that the manager needed to be reprimanded for her extreme unprofessionalism, and that I wanted to receive a personal apology from her in person, apologising for all the hurt and anguish she had caused me, an apology for her poor handling of the entire case, and an apology for her complete disrespect for me as a respected professional and an employee. I also wanted her to apologise to Hulk as well, but I knew that was pushing it.
I then contacted HR reviewing the meeting, and told them about my request for her apologies. I didn’t receive a response. About a week later she sends me an email, literally apologising for not following up with me on a completely unrelated matter. I was furious. I couldn’t believe that she would be so blatant about not acknowledging my grievances… but at the same time, it didn’t surprise me. She was a nasty piece of work.
A couple of months later, she was made redundant and lost her job and moved interstate.
So, I guess although I didn’t ‘win’ directly, seeing her leave and move away was a small win for me… and many others as well.