Saturday, May 4, 2013

Musical No-Chairs

In ones life there are always several defining moments that stand out vividly etched in the mind, easily grasped from within the memory, each time conjuring up emotion and despair.  Luckily, these moments are few and far between.  It (SHIT) happens to us, these are the things people say "If it doesn't kill you it will make you stronger".  Emotional distress, bullying, harassment, coercion are real issues in any workplace.  I have had many curtain calls to this arena of deceit and humiliation.  If you have not been subjected to any of this you are either oblivious, brain dead, you are the perpetrator, you are sleeping with the perpetrator or luckily you are very fortunate not to be in this precarious position.  This dastardly behavior is usually symptomatic of dysfunction, anger, or worse yet delirium; driving the acts against others which are perpetrated by one in a superior position upon others who are at a disadvantaged subordinate position.  We allow ourselves to be subjected to a limited amount of abuse for several reasons; chiefly "I need the job",  or "this will pass with time and things will get better", and then there is always; "this jerk abusing me will not last long", and then a few of us just like to play the victim and proclaim such for sympathy.  The latter often feeds into the situation by portraying a stance of I am weak therefore have at it and let me take all that is coming to me and more..."Thank you Sir and may I have another!"

The atrocities in the workplace are just getting worse by the day.  Basically, if you are working, you need that job because the very idea of public assistance, food stamps, EBT Cards, unemployment benefits is even more frightening that putting up with the workplace abuse.  Employers know this and no one knows this more like the back of their dirty hand and plays a dirty deck of cards like middle-management.  These folks are just in the right place at the right time now.  These are desperate times and more employers and middle-managers are exploiting employees because they know they can and will get away with it.  Some employees just feel helpless, say nothing, continue on and pray for a paycheck every week because that is what they need to sustain there family.  Other victims fight back.  They may fight back a little too hard...then people start getting shot, disappear mysteriously, poisoned, and other forms of retribution which is always categorized in the media as "Goin' Postal".

Unfortunately, these are some of the moments that stick in our minds, make up our work character going forward, we adjust our behavior, and take a cynical state of mind where no one is trusted - we trust no one - paranoia.  It was not too long ago I had to rid myself of such paranoia, distress, abuse, and just remove myself from a bad situation getting worse by the week; all at the hands of people who thought they had power over me enough so to coerce and stifle me into submission.  They were wrong, terribly wrong.  In the end, the separation was best for me; the immediate relief it gave me from the abuse was liberating. Another door opened at the right time and my career advanced positively.  The chance came along at the right time and with the right employer.  The escape I made from this death camp was never more urgent, the opportunity before me was never so great.  Post exit legal action taken against me was a last desperate act to discredit me after separation; the legal action was baseless and ultimately hurt the instigator. I am happy to say my current position is one of stability, security, professionalism, team spirit, and trust. The rewards are great.  The management are not psychopathic, no one gets hurt and everyone goes home at the end of the shift with all their limbs attached.

I say "Musical-No Chairs" is the title of this life experience because that childhood game we played at birthday parties was morphed into a sinister, devious act of distress, coercion, dastardly humiliation, and embarrassment.  The worst staff meeting I ever attended had several elements I soon will not forget.  The circumstance, the table with no chairs, the principle in power bringing one chair for a devious self, the irritation and abuse, the fatigue both mental inflicted and physical I felt by having to stand for several hours without a chair to sit in while being berated and barraged by insults.  Worse yet, this was not a one on one session of manger with employee; this was Genghis Khan inflicting himself on his subjects.  At the time it was happening, we all felt that we where adults, we were strong, it will not kill us to stand for several hours in front of the idiot.  But after the drama ended there were no awards for best supporting actor, humiliation set in, then anger, and great distrust of upper management in lofty places above this scourged group.  Why we were invited into an empty conference room several years ago to be abused is not as important as realizing what it was - straight up intimidation, coercion, and humiliation.

This circumstance came about after a few days of back and forth comments via email and yes we were guilty of losing ten points for stating the obvious about a workplace issue. Four victims were called into an empty conference room down the corridor from the main lab at this immense facility.  If  this death camp was not rough enough with thousands of specimens received each day all needing analysis to be completed by end of day, QC 1 SD of 0.2 on some assays, there was also an element of abuse to contend with from this upper manager.  As a lower manager at this facility, me and my cohorts were basically human shields between the techs and the staff who were in charge of global projects; folks who would ruthlessly throw any one and all except themselves under the bus on any given day.  These folks were the cause of many issues that plagued and disseminated into the lab work, making the daily work harder than it had to be and sometimes pushing the limits of good practices.

It was an email that passed amongst the small group of us in which the only mistake was inviting the upper manager into the discussion.  That was the trigger that gave this individual the lofty idea that an opportunity was at hand - the opportunity in his mind should not be wasted.  Late in the afternoon the invite came through Outlook for the "meeting" to commence in a few minutes.  Showing up on time to the empty conference room the four us were scratching our heads wondering who took all the chairs out of the conference room and for what purpose they, he or she did that? Several minutes later the principle walked in lugging own chair in hand and promptly sat down.

This upper manager commenced in a savage delivery of ugly adjectives, foul language (nothing new for this dastardly person), and insults in a diatribe that would have made Patton blush in front of his troops.  Gleeful as this person was in this self aggrandizing meeting paled to the overall terrible flavor of the dish handed out to the ones standing front and center.  Post meeting, I never felt such humiliation  in my life.  That was before I arrived home and told my loving wife about how my day went when she asked me that evening. She was angry and hurt for me.  As for what to do next, there were not many options.  Upper Lab Management and Principle Human Resources staff  were colluding together for more than a year.  Staff were brutalized with no avenue to turn down to stop the abuse.  Those who did venture to speak up were brutally beat down like a pop-up mole in the arcade game "Whack-A-Mole".  There were employees that arrived to work in the morning, sat in the car crying, and could not drag themselves into the death camp.  Regaining composure, they headed straight to their family physician to file for mental disability and got it.

The only option I had after 12 years of dutiful service was the quickest exit I could make.  I was not the first of this down-trodden group to "exit stage left".  I was not the last either.  After years of performance reviews  achieving scores of 4.4-4.7 out of 5.0, awards and accolades, nominations for the Presidents Award, annual bonuses in the range of $3,500 - $5,200, I was suddenly brutalized with laser guided bomb precision by upper management, Human Resources and Project Management until the day I tendered my resignation.  Turned out that that day was sobering and liberating at the same time.  I miss the employees I managed terribly, but I don't miss nor wish for that type of abuse again. Ever!

Good day my friends - Be good to each other.  Abusing subordinates is not becoming of a competent leader.

Note:  This employer cannot be identified.  Legal action taken against me by this organization post my exit was defended successfully by myself.  Any identification of this organization will probably bring new legal action from this bully.  I have no desire to defend against such baseless legal attacks nor would it bring any satisfaction to me to "Beat down this Lyon again".
The content in this post is 100% true and can be corroborated.  The content in all my posts is 100% truthful.
The Lyon has be maimed permanently by my responding legal defense.

1 comment:

Leslie M. said...

What a travesty that a corporation would treat their employees in such a manner. The 'chair story' is horrific in my book!

Count your blessings that you are out of that place.

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