Bullying at work


Today, thankfully, I’m not in the call-centre. Recently it has become far more stressful than usual. I have come to the conclusion that my manager is actually bullying me. To say it seems bad, humiliating even. I wonder how could I allow this to happen to me?

Earlier this week I was dragged into an office for ‘a word”. When I stepped inside there was an array of printed sheets laid out on a desk. One was an email from a customer complaining that they felt I was ‘too laid back’ and had not been helpful, another was an enquiry form I had completed which was annotated with ‘operator seemed defensive’ and finally there was a list of my log in times with one marked out in garish pink highlighter.

I’m not claiming to be the best CSA in the world, or even the office for that matter, but I’m certainly not the worst. Unlike some of my other colleagues I rarely get into any confrontation with customers even the difficult ones.

Just to cast some light though the first issue concerned me not being able to provide the customer with an offer code for a web based promotion as it had not been made available to me. Apparently I had also failed to apologise for the problems they had encountered on the web site which I can’t comment on as I can’t remember at all though I’m sure I would have done all I could to help. The second issue concerned a customer who I’d noted on the same enquiry form was ‘agitated’ the reason being that there order was not on the system and someone the day before I spoke to them had apparently promised them a call-back that day. The customer became aggressive towards me and I simply told them that I was trying to help them. This led to them mentioning that I had been ‘defensive’ to the manager who at my request had called back.

Maybe some things could have been handled better I offered, but that’s part and parcel of the industry not every customer will be happy. My manager retorted that she felt every customer should feel I had done all I could for them. I suggested we listen to the calls and then discuss, but was told that no recordings of the calls existed… so my manager had decided I was at fault based purely upon the customers accounts. After the meeting I also recalled her dealing with a complaint about another member of staff, though she had been stood nearby for part of the call she had not heard the whole call and simply told the customer when they indicated they wished to make a complaint that she felt my colleague had handled the call appropriately. No further action was taken.

You may feel there is an element of me being defensive here, maybe so as no one likes criticism, but complaints are an occupational hazard in customer service and I’ve never been dragged into a room in all my years in the industry. Right now I feel that I just don’t have any support and am vulnerable to the next angry customer who by chance gets put through to me.

I just get the feeling that I am being singled for different treatment. Likewise with the log-on times. Many people, by their own admission, are not ready to take calls at their start time yet no-one else has been spoken to about this only me. The day after my talking to a colleague told me they had overslept, texted the manager on their personal number, was told ‘it’s ok” and then “fell back asleep”. They eventually came in half an hour late and were casually making their pre-log on cup of tea whilst telling me the story. Again no further action.

Maybe it’s just me

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2 thoughts on “Bullying at work

  1. I work in a call centre. It is slave labour. We work 9 to 5 with only half hour break and two fifteen minute breaks. our toilet breaks are monitored. supervisors seem to listen to every word,no privacy at all. throughout the day, supervisors send b*tchy messages to all of us telling us off for this or that, sometimes threatening us, or we get singled out. different rules for different staff. also convinced that calls are not all random but that supervisor cherry picks worst calls for some agents. I suffer anxiety, achy body, and other stress related symptoms from this job. i cannot speak by 4pm. sat down weekly for ‘feedback’ from trainer which is nit picking. whole thing is h*ll. also some other agents are cliquish and horrid, feels like a prison. some days i just cry.

    • Amanda,

      It makes me so sad to read about your experiences, which make mine pale into insignificance by comparison, and I really, really feel for you. I strongly believe then, as I do now, that nobody should ever be made to feel that way through work.

      My view is that though call-centres are not the only workplaces with issues of bullying, there is much about the way they are organised which is highly conducive to it – not least the monitoring regimes. It is all to easy for bad managers and bad supervisors to abuse the power given to them by the armfuls of stats they receive and to use it as I have seen in my experience to single out workers.

      In the end I got signed off by my GP for a month and used the time to get another job which though not perfect – I’ve yet to find a workplace which is- is a massive improvement on the call-centre. The best thing to do is to quite simply to get out of there, but I know it’s easier said than done, so in the meantime I’d suggest looking online for some advice about how to handle the situation you’re in now; ACAS do a good leaflet http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=797 and maybe your local Citizens Advice Bureau can provide some practical help.

      Really wish you all the best, most importantly though NEVER blame yourself. People bully for all kinds of stupid reasons which are all to do with their own failings it’s definitely not you.

      CG

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