I think the red flags were always there and I just chose to ignore them. The time I accepted the new job at a company I had worked for 17 years prior seemed like a good idea. I wasn’t happy where I was at one of their competitors, a friend of mine told there was an opening and I went. Landing in the town of their corporate headquarters to meet my new team, I felt the irony of the situation and thought I must be misreading the situation. Surely, I was just over thinking it and everything would be alright.
It was a company I had great memories working at and had done well there. The only reason I had left previously was because I was moving out of state and at that time work at home was still conceptual to most companies. I had gone to work for their competitors and learned a great deal in my time away. It felt good to bring this experience back to the company I was going to make a difference here and help them be successful. It was that opportunity that had me both excited and eager to start this return.
Meeting my new team was interesting. They seemed nice. My new boss was younger but seemed like she would be ok to work for. I didn’t particularly get the warm fuzzy reception but I quickly met new coworkers and surprisingly coworkers I had once worked with many years ago. It felt like home I kept telling myself and therefore it was ok it felt awkward and a little off balance. It was just my nerves I kept telling myself. For a while too things were alright. Things were going well. My manager didn’t really get involved in my work and left me to drive it. I was getting things done and felt like I was doing the right thing.
Soon a new leadership team would be promoted over the division. There was disappointment because she was a leader favorite but knew nothing of the business she would be leading. She also ruled by command and control in an old fashioned hierarchy way that was counter culture to the company’s values of open doors, thriving together and collaboration. Very quickly it became apparent anything I had hoped to accomplish in my role was not going to be accepted by this new leader as she installed her people into the director spots.
I was able to transfer to another role while still directly involved in the work I felt so passionate about. Here another new manager who was completely hands off and made it known he didn’t like to have to get involved with anything. There work was heavy and I was now leading a team that quickly became 24 people reporting to me. There was little support from the manager if I needed help and he would always just say, “Go fix it.” I worked a lot of hours over the next few months doing exactly that, fixing things.
It would not be long before I ran into another female leader who was trying to prove her way up in the organization. She was a true bully who wanted complete control over every detail. My team could not even send emails anymore to the business without them first being approved by her and her team. It was tedious and relentless with the demands. I had worked hard to establish a strong team and we worked together on so many of these demands that we all just became exhausted from it all. In a matter of 3 weeks 8 people had given me their resignation because things had simply become that bad in our environment. I couldn’t fix it.
My manager still refused to engage or help. When he would be called into something it quickly became my problem and reason for the failure and he would schedule follow up meetings with me to scream and yell. I was making him look bad. I was incompetent. The insults would hurl as would his just pure meanness for how he should have never hired me. I bore it all and held back tears of frustration and hurt. I wasn’t failing at it but rather it was just the corporate bully not getting her way and making things hard on everyone. He wouldn’t hear of it though.
At one point I finally broke and stood up for myself. No one else was doing it who should have been and quite frankly I’d reached my limit of being blamed for things that I didn’t do or own. That didn’t go well as you can imagine those things never do. I called HR to complain of a hostile and toxic work environment but was directed to their “deal with it yourself” policy. It was in fact called Conflict Resolution Policy and entailed all the ways I was to mitigate this problem myself. My manager yelled at me for over 2 hours and then continued to back door any movement I needed to move to another department. My options at this point were to put up with it or leave the company all together.
The flags were always there. I knew from the first manager I had there something wasn’t right but I worked past it. The second manager was just abusive and should not be managing people at all. In both situations it was a clear disconnect between the top leadership messaging and what was occurring on their management team. People were leaving left and right with more positions to backfill and yet no one thought the problem might be with their management team?
I took an extended vacation per the direction of my doctor in response to panic attacks I was now experiencing along with eye twitching, non-stop indigestion and heartburn and sleeplessness all associated from stress. In the time I took away from this job I realized we teach our children the wrong thing about bullies and growing up to get a career. For one no one comes to help you with bullies, you are left to deal with that on your own. Those that should help you like HR don’t protect you from abuse. Secondly, companies who have such impressive cultural values oftentimes are not practiced all the way through the organization. If you’re relying on employee surveys to tell you how great things are you are missing 90% of the facts of what goes on every day.
All of this is rampant in a lot of companies and I know my experience is not unique. The question begs though why any of us put up with it? Why do we ignore the red flags and think it won’t happen to us? The impact to our health and financial well-being is devastating and could have long lasting impacts. We put up with it though because we ignore those red flags from the beginning thinking we can handle it. We often don’t though and end up either leaving the job like I did or detaching to the point we are barely getting engaging at work. It is unproductive for the company and does not support our own need to learn, create, contribute, innovate and work.
I had to spend the better part of the time I took off taking anti-anxiety medication and trying to heal from the experience. My husband and I made the hard choice financially that it wasn’t worth my health to return to that job and I didn’t have another one lined up yet. We didn’t know how long it may take for me to find another either. Yet if I continued there we knew I wouldn’t be any type of shape to interview positively for another company. I had to walk away from it.
This experience also renewed in me the necessity to not give up on Dragonspit Apothecary. This is my small business where I help others live naturally using oils and natural products from doTERRA. These products helped me a great deal during this time but I did also need to use prescribed medication to heal from the trauma of it. I will never dissuade anyone from seeking medical help. My own doctor knows about my use of natural products and works with me to find the right protocols as well any prescribed meds I may need to further help on things like this situation.
While a difficult situation, I refocused my efforts to grow my business to lessen the need to work for such companies like this one again. I renewed my commitment to help others find a way out of it as well. All companies have these situations but it doesn’t mean it is our only option for finding peace in our work and ways to support our family without sacrificing our well-being.
Don’t ignore the red flags. If you’re looking for a way out, let’s chat and see if what I do with doTERRA is a fit for you. It has been my lifeline that I have clung heavily too in this experience and am thankful for the hope it has provided to me and my family. Let me help you grab onto it as well and let’s end the workplace abuse and red flags that threaten us. Chat with me at dragonspitapothecary.com