Bullied Blogger: Behind closed doors

January 27, 2009

21 January:
I come into work and find two things in my tray that disturb me. First, a copy of a vacancy for a post at a nearby university. I’m feeling unsettled and it’s easy to make the assumption that it’s Marcus – but it could be someone else who knows I’m a little unhappy in the department.

Also in my tray are three files on modules that begin next month. I have a full caseload, I had my appraisal five months ago and it was recognised that I was well over on my hours. There is a note attached. “Please take on this new work – Marcus”. I reply: “Are these files really for me? Please see my staff appraisal.” I place them back in Marcus’ tray.

22 January: There was a divisional meeting today at 10.30. I knew nothing about it. The first I heard was after lunch when members of the team drifted back. I wondered where they had all been.

I checked with Alan, who then forwarded the email from Marcus. The date is usually the last Thursday of alternate months. The meetings have always had variable attendance, but at least four or five of the team usually turn up. This one was important because the new dean, Helen Murr, was attending and (according to Alan) they presented a paper for consultation on “the next five years, interdisciplinary working and the international context”. I checked my emails and found nothing. I’ve also heard nothing about the new work.

I don’t want to confront Marcus directly and in person so I dispatch an email, asking why I was not informed of the meeting today. I take nearly an hour on the email – it’s ridiculous, but I don’t want it to be seen as an attack. “Dear Marcus, I am concerned that when I came into work today I found that I had not been informed about a rescheduled team meeting that was attended by Helen Murr. The issues discussed by the team seemed very important and I am anxious to know why I was not included in the email sent out while I was out of the office.”

Within the hour I get a reply. “I am so sorry for the group email not including you. I will check out the reason for this and call by your office later.”

A few hours later, Marcus is knocking at my door. He enters with the three files I returned to his tray. Marcus explains that there has been some failing in the computer system, and that there was word I had gone to a conference.

Marcus said he would be happy to sit down and discuss the team meeting. I indicate that would be fine. Marcus then places the files on my desk. “These are for you, I think.” I remain very calm and explain that at my last appraisal it was recognised that I was well over my teaching hours.

I say that I am happy to discuss matters within the team meeting and to help where I can, but that an additional three modules are somewhat overwhelming. His tone changes. “You will do this work – and I don’t like the way you’re handling this.”

I ask who else has been approached about “helping out”. He erupts, and shouts, “Don’t push it, OK? I am not telling you again and your attitude since I started is very questionable.” He is red in the face and aggressive looking. He throws the files on my desk and storms out, slamming my door. I shudder, shocked at his attitude. I need to think.

23 January: I dispatch an email to Helen Murr outlining my concerns with Marcus. I decide to raise several issues – all previously mentioned in the blog. Alan suggests that I think about going to the union for help. I don’t want to get into all that stuff; I’ve got a clear issue here. I’ll go to see Helen and sort it out.

Are you experiencing problems at work?

Whether its money worries, issues with colleagues or emotional difficulties, the College and University Support Network (CUSN) can help. CUSN provides free, confidential support services, 24/7, specifically for all staff working in adult, further and higher education. Established by Teacher Support Network and supported by UCU, CUSN offers information and advice, telephone counselling, online and telephone coaching and financial assistance. All CUSN services are delivered by professional advisors, counsellors and coaches.

You can contact CUSN for free on 08000 32 99 52 or visit www.cusn.info, where you can also sign up for the free monthly newsletter.

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