What it is like to work for a bully

My boss is a bully.
Plain and simple.
There is no other way to phrase it.
She's a bully with a capital "B".
(She's also another word that starts with a capital "B"...but for now we'll stick with Bully).

Six months ago my mid-year review was glowing with praise.
I had "strong communication skills" and it was pointed out that I was "particularly strong in [my] abilities to implement and maintain [the organization's] social media communication. I was told IN WRITING that the boss appreciated my "leadership on the communication team."

What a difference a few months makes.

I have written about my "trials" at The Job ... here, here, here, and here. It's not a secret (at least not to anyone who knows me or reads this blog) that I am no longer happy at work. But, I am still a good employee. I go to work every day and I do my job. And if we're being honest here (I am, as always) ... I am good at my job.

Or so I thought.
Until this morning.
This morning when I opened my e-mail and saw my "Development Plan" for the next TWO MONTHS.

(Yes dear readers...it appears that I have been given two months to "straighten up and fly right" as the saying goes.)

The e-mail went on and on for three very long paragraphs, detailing how there are "performance gaps" and how an "improvement plan" MUST be put in place and what I must do in order to be deemed "successful" by the end of the two months. It was pointed out that "successfully [sic] completion of this plan will demonstrate that you are building the foundation for longer term success." And then she Cc'd two other "directors" in the office...just for good measure, so they are "aware of the expectations." (read: so they can babysit me in her absence).

The best part of the entire e-mail?

This: I am now required to provide her with a written copy of my weekly schedule, and next to each activity I am to document the result of the activity, focusing on what I achieved and the "results should be in relation to [my] accountabilities." I also have to include my "planned activities and results for the upcoming week." But wait, there's more. I then have to call her every Monday morning to discuss my progress and visit the corporate office (a four hour drive away) once a month to have a "face to face opportunity" to discuss my progress.

Apparently I now require a full-time babysitter at the office.
Big Brother is definitely watching ME.

The "development plan" that was attached is unrealistic and is full of unattainable goals. Even if I was superwoman and worked 12 hours a day I could not accomplish the goals she has 'created' - most of which have never been part of my job requirements. And she knows this.

I have been set up to fail.
As one trusted co-worker said to me today..."you have been targeted and you have no hope."

A year ago when I started this job I was excited. I thought I had the chance to make a difference to do something great. That is no longer the case. Now, I am just being pushed around this giant chess board and have to report to this horrible, despicable bully.

The worst part? The organization I work for strives to promote anti-bullying measures. And yet, the women who run this office are all bullies. They belittle people via e-mail and in person. They degrade employees and our job performance, they make us feel worthless.

I found this definition today while searching 'workplace bullying': Workplace bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms - verbal abuse; offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating or intimidating; work interference - sabotage - which prevents work from getting done. - from Workplace Bullying Institute.

This sounds a lot like what I have been dealing with for months.

And after a while, after the Bully keeps telling you how horrid you are, you start to believe that you really aren't any good at your job. And maybe people really don't want to work with you. You stop trusting people at the office and you talk in whispers just in case someone might overhear. You start believing that the work you are creating isn't any good.

And that my friends is not fun.
It is very difficult, no...damn near impossible to WANT to do your job.

I'm not a quitter.
I don't quit.
I don't walk away.
But right here at this moment that is what I want to do.
I want to tell them to take their development plan and shove it.
I refuse to be treated this way any longer.
I refuse to feel like I am an untalented, worthless, useless worker bee.
I refuse to be bullied any longer.


  1. Don't let that B! make you feel like a horrible worker and co-worker. She sounds like a peach. I understand not wanting to be a quitter, but in this situation, I don't think it's quitting. I think, if you can, moving on is what is best for you. Sadly though, she'll probably just move onto someone else.

    Hang in there!!

  2. At this point it isn't quitting, it's bettering yourself and your mental health. Take it from someone that lived through this not so long ago, you are in a war zone but it's like they have tanks and machine guns and they gave you a water gun - no amount of fight or good work will help you win. And I think they have a bad boss handbook that has that development plan strategy in it because I received a very similar one. I can tell you that when you find a new job you'll be waiting for someone to backstab and bully you and you'll be suspicious of everything that they say, but eventually it does get better out back in the world of good employment. I know that job market is tough - I'm dealing with that right now - but you have to care more about you, and I can't imagine that you wouldn't be happier in the Target or Starbucks then you would be where you are now if it came to that. Keep your head up & lets do coffee (or comfort food like ice cream) when you find time.

  3. Ah my dear friend! The joys of the workforce! I also found myself working for such a person a few years back. To this day I still have nightmares about her. There was one day she was literally screaming at me because I did exactly what she told me to do - to the point I went home crying (and you know I am not a cryer) to ray and told him surely I was getting fired the next day. What happened the next day? She gave me an 18% raise! And repeated this cycle another time. Can you say bipolar? Having my salary increase 36% in the course of 6 weeks certainly made her easier to take. But at the end money was not enough. I went to hr found out how long I had to stay in order to get my bonus and ended up reporting her for everything. I am happy to say they eventually fired her 6 weeks later, I quit anyway because I didnt want to continue to work for a company that allowed her to thrive for so many years - and ended up receiving a very nice lump sum of money which I am fairly certain they gave me in the hopes that I wouldn't sue them

    I am not sue happy. Personally I think that is a big part of what is wrong with our country. However you do have rights and they can't treat you like this. I suggest you become familiar with the phrase "hostile workplace" and find yourself a lawyer. Start documenting everything if you haven't already. You are not powerless here. Schedule a meeting to discuss the 60 day plan. Lay out your concerns over how you can be successful, etc. They have a right to put you on a 60 day plan but they can't make it so outrageous it can't be achieved.

  4. What a well written piece. I have been the target at my current job which is why I plan to leave. However, it is nothing like what you are experiencing.

    Good luck and something great is around the corner.

  5. Hi, just stumbled on your blog and thought I'd share that I worked for a Bully last year and it was awful! The boss and my co-worker who I could not escape were both bullies. I went home daily in tears, and I'd tell my husband about the "critique of the day" because I could do NOTHING right according to those two. Yet, even though I was a "horrible" employee according to them, the boss would not fire me.

    For a while, I started to wonder if I was such a terrible worker, but a friend reminded me that I had stayed with two previous jobs for 5 yrs each without such criticism so it couldn't be true that I'm awful.

    When she finally cut my hours without notice I went to the boss and told her "This isn't what I was hired for. If you don't want to employ me for the 40 hrs I was hired to do, then fire me and put it in writing." She fired me and I was never happier about losing a job. After a while it become evident that things will not get better and you have to take care of your mental health.

  6. Oh Tracie, I am so sorry....

    In the bigger picture you will look back and realize that this job is a reminder to you and to us your friends of the kind of Boss you never, ever want to be.

    In the long run, you will be able to look back and know that you gave it your dead level best - a full-on effort, and the reason the job did not work out was due entirely to a small-minded, egotistical BULLY.

    But that doesn't help in the short run, does it? I am so sorry you are having to face this every day!

    Does your organization have an HR department? It is way past time to get them involved...

    Honestly, I think I would consider escalating in your position. Don't be afraid to go over her head and stomp around. Not because you want to keep that job, but because bullies back off when you call them on their horrid behavior. At the very least, they should agree to let you go before the ridiculous two-month deadline and allow the unemployment... as an outsider it is apparent that they are trying to FORCE you to leave so they will get out of it, and that, my friend, is not only wrong but ILLEGAL.

    A proper HR department would have reviewed her "plan" and given counsel, and recommended it be given in person or at the very least on the phone, and with HR and her boss available. Were you with my company, for example, with all these egregious bullying tactics, they would likely be talking settlement with you in lieu of sueing them sideways.

    And did I mention the sending of the Development Plan email is as gutless as it gets? akin to breaking off an engagement by text.

    Take care of yourself, darling Tracie. Do what you need to do. If it means walking out tomorrow with a box under your arm and a smile on your face more power to you!

    I will be thinking of you and praying for you and sending you strength. I know you will make the very best decision for you and your family.

    Much love, Lynne

  7. Lynne - thank you my friend. we do have an HR department but they are useless and the line they tell everyone is "anything you come to us with is NOT confidential." Yeah...no dice there. The only person "higher up" than the bully is the CEO and she might actually be worse. I am still debating the whole "walking out" option, especially since I think it's starting to affect my health. Thanks again for being such a wonderful friend. Love you. :)

  8. Traci - you are so talented and amazing. It made me so sad/mad to read this. It is frustrating that the HR department is not a functioning arm either - they should be there to HELP YOU!

    Quitting a job is not the same as quitting. Moving on may be what is best for you. You possess skills that will help you in your search and you will be happier when you leave. I wish you the best and good luck in the next few months - being set up to fail is miserable.

    I would also like to say I agree with Sassy Times and that your boss is a B!

  9. oh Iris Took (i'll use your "screen name" here)...thank you my friend for this comment...it made me cry, but in a good way. :) i do believe you may be right - moving on is very likely what is best for me at this point. :)