I should have done more

When I was at school in the 1970s I won a prize, the inaugural Bruce McCallum Memorial Prize for spoken French. Bruce was a fellow pupil of mine at school who wasn’t well and he sadly passed away a few months before the prize giving. I remember his funeral well. The place was packed and lots of us school boys lined the pathway in the church grounds. Bruce suffered more than his fair share of bullying when he was alive and sadly, a few kids in the line persisted in their rudeness even on this sad day. I remember thinking I should do something about this. I asked some of the kids to shut up and got told where to stick it. I didn’t have the bottle to do any more and just stood there feeling awkward. On the day I received the prize I was introduced to his parents and felt quite overwhelmed. Overwhelmed that I’d won something and overwhelmed at my memory of Bruce’s funeral day and the fact that I didn’t do enough. I’ve still got the prize, a copy of David Attenborough’s Life on Earth.

HR should have done more

Back in 2002, as an up and coming manager in BT I was on the receiving end of persistent bullying from my manager. He undermined me, threatened to sack me, was rude to me, and regularly put me down in front of my peers and customers. This went on for months and months. To this day I don’t know why he did it, and I do know that it hurt, badly. I was so undermined, my confidence almost completely crushed. I’d spoken with the bully many times about his behaviour and on each occasion he tried to dismiss it as me over reacting. I’d been to speak with his manager and to HR a couple of times to ask for help, and been told to resolve it with the bully directly. Through all this I was fortunate to have another manager in the business offering me some support. It was helpful to talk and with his reassurance, I finally went to HR and the guy’s manager together – poured out the whole story and put it to them that if they didn’t intervene I was going to go off work sick and take out a grievance against the guy. To this day I’m not proud of what I said but I felt backed into a dark, dark corner. I felt desperate. I got moved to another team and got on with enjoying my work. On reflection I have found the experience very helpful as I now know what it its like to be on the receiving end of persistent unwelcome behaviour. It’s important to learn from these things if we can. The bully left the country shortly after HRs eventual intervention; I think he still works for the company.

They are doing something

There has been a recent case of bullying at my daughter’s school. Since the victim found the courage to speak up, the school has been dealing with her sympathetically and talking with the bullies and the whole school about bullying being unacceptable and the importance of speaking up about bullying. I am pleased the school has both the systems and the pastoral caring attitude in place to feel able to address this unpleasantness.

Deafened by the roar of mice. #bannatynegate

I’ve been fascinated by the recent row sparked by Duncan Bannatyne who tried to spoil the good name of the XpertHR business by throwing around unsubstantiated allegations on Twitter. Here are a few screen shots of the emerging Twitter row which show:

8th March 2011 – unsubstantiated allegations of dishonesty made by Bannatyne to XpertHR.

Bannatyne Twitter Feed 8th March 2011

8th March 2011 – when challenged by Ailsa Suttie, queen of all roaring mice, and Deadbeat Mum, aka wonder woman (who messes with super heroes?), Bannatyne becomes rankled and says he will post evidence of XpertHR’s dishonesty the following day.

Bannatyne Twitter Feed 8th March 2011

9th March 2011 – nothing. No evidence presented by Bannatyne

10th March 2011 – Bannatyne is reminded of his promise to produce evidence, he becomes irritable (more than usual) and no evidence is provided.

Bannatyne 10th March 2011

Bannatyne 10th March 2011 2

11th March onwards – Bannatyne blocks everyone and anyone in and around the #connectinghr community who continues to remind him of his pledge. No evidence is provided.

12th March 2011 onwards, the silence continues.

What have I learned from this collection of experiences? Once folk take a stand and speak out it is much more difficult for the bully to continue to operate. Openness doesn’t suit the modus operandi of a bully.

If you would like to make a comment or tell a story about bullying in general please do so. If you wish to comment on #bannatynegate please pop over to Ailsa’s blog and we can keep all the action in one place.

photo c/o annavanna

Update: 23 May 2011. This post gets lots of views. Today Ben Eubanks tweeted a link to this interesting short piece on bullying. I wanted to add a link to it to keep things flowing:


I hope this is useful for you.