If you're experiencing workplace bullying there WILL come a time when you get called on to attend 'the meeting'. Knowing in advance what this meeting is, and its purpose can save you a little bit of heartache. At the very least, expect this meeting...and do your best to prepare for it.
How it all begins...
You've been bullied for months. You're hard-
You find yourself berated behind closed doors, humiliated in company meetings in front of others, you've been castigated in public, your efforts are minimised, and you now have to 'justify' every choice, every decision, every action...and nearly always the most insignificant of things.
If you recognise this scenario, what's about to come is far worse than any of the treatment you've been experiencing for X amount of months. It's known as the Ambush Meeting...and it's used by every single workplace bully on the planet.
Up until now, you may not have even realised you were the 'target' of a workplace bully. Many people don't...they just put this kind of workplace abuse down the rigours of working with a 'demanding' boss. If that's the case, then this 'meeting' is going to be one of the worst shocks of your life.
So how do you determine if, in fact, you are the target of a workplace bully? The quickest way is to download and complete our 1-
If you determine that there's a good chance you are the target of a workplace bully, we recommend you download a copy of our Workplace Bullying Diary Form to your home computer. Either print and fill in the Workplace Bullying Diary Form, or fill it in on your computer and then print the completed form. There's a sample of a completed Workplace Bullying Diary Form for you to take a look at. The importance of recording workplace bullying events in a concise and consistent format can never be underestimated, so keep this information filed in your records at home...in case you ever need to provide specific details of events.
In brief, there's a number of things to do prior to the Ambush Meeting:
If you haven't already started looking for another job...start now.
Remember, this meeting is going to be an all-
Try and remain calm and collected. It won't be easy, but you need to keep your wits about you so you can understand what's going on...and to look for an opportunity to state your case that the workplace bully is too expensive for the workplace to keep.
Do not refute the claims and statements made against you, one-
If you can take a witness/support person into the meeting with you to take notes...do so. In the Australian context we've seen people being denied this request. Also remember that many of your co-
Feel free to ask if you can electronically record the meeting for "accuracy of your own records". In the Australian context, this request has always been denied. We don't advocate electronically recording these meetings covertly, because it's against the law in Australia...but it does occurs.
Your 'mission' during the meeting, is to present a financial breakdown of the cost of 'keeping' the workplace bully. Calculations include the salary of the amount of staff who have left...and the salary of replacement staff. And because workplace bullying lowers the productivity of existing staff, and new staff take time to come up to speed...you include the salaries of both staff for each financial year the bully has been operating. Also include the cost (daily pay rate) of days taken off by all staff in sick leave or 'mental health' days to get respite from the bully, and include the cost (hourly rates) to do or re-
Before you go into the Ambush Meeting...type up an email to the workplace bully and include the email addresses of key Board members like the Chairman, Union Rep, your Solicitor, Human Resources. DON'T send it just yet. You write this email while you still have some clarity, and before you come out of the meeting where you'll probably be reeling. In this email (in dot point...keep it business-
"As a follow-
1. Various spurious claims were made about the quality of my work such as (detail the lies here). Note that these claims were not substantiated when requested.
2. Further, 'ad hominem' statements such as (detail the personal attacks) were made during the meeting, these were not substantiated when requested.
3. In response to the claims outlined during this meeting I provided detail about a number of bullying events that had occurred in workplace and were instigated by (name the bully here) such as: (include dot points about the bullying events you mentioned during meeting -
4. Additionally, at the above meeting I provided a financial analysis of the 'cost' to the organisation of keeping the workplace bully namely (name the bully here) over X amount of years. I have included this breakdown of costs as an attachment to this email.
5. In support of the above I also include the following (list other relevant details and dates such as when you first drew attention of the workplace bullying to others in the organisation)."
6. Sign off email
When you leave the meeting...fill in the blanks then send the email. This is known as leaving a paper trail. What you need to remember is that the 'goal' of the Ambush Meeting is to either dismiss you on the spot...or force you to quit after some period of time. Either way, you won't be keeping your job...that's the purpose of these meetings. Don't forget to BCC a copy of the email to yourself at home.
Realise that even if you're not keen on sending this email...the workplace bullying ALWAYS escalates after the bully Ambush Meeting.
The goal of this meeting is to get you to leave the organisation i.e. quit 'voluntarily' (a.k.a constructive dismissal). And the 'tool' workplace bullies in Australia use...is where you're forced to sign some type of 'performance improvement' document, where you have a certain amount of days to 'lift your game', or you'll be dismissed. NEVER under any circumstances, should you sign this document willingly. Most, if not all who are presented with this document are told if they don't sign it...they'll be dismissed. If this is the case, amend, or strike through the block that say's "Signed/Signature", and replace with words similar to: "Forced to sign", "Co-
Once you've signed this document, EXPECT the workplace bullying to increase. This document is NOT about improving your 'performance'...it's to apply so much pressure on you that you'll leave the workplace of your own volition. EXPECT that the 'job sabotage' will increase exponentially, EXPECT that you'll be increasingly micro-
Finally, listen to the following (excellent) podcast by Dr Gary Namie from the Workplace Bullying Institute (link opens small popup window), 33mins in length: