Dear Addie Archives

Dear Addie Archives


I am afraid that I will be given a bad reference when I leave. What can I do about this? How do I get a new job with a bad reference? 
This definitely an issue that keeps many targets trapped in a toxic work environment, and depressed after they leave. It adds to that experience of hopelessness. You could consider previous managers and/or supervisors who would be willing to give a reference. Also, you can talk to your Union Rep and HR department and have an agreement with your leaders. Our managers/supervisors do not want a Human Rights complaint added to their list. Is there a past person who was the acting supervisor/manager for a period of time that can provide a reference? What about a Union rep? University Professor? Stakeholder? Another board member? Also see the answer to question: I have decided to leave my place of employment but I need to find a new job first. Any suggestions on preparing to leave?

I have decided to leave my place of employment but I need to find a new job first. Any suggestions on preparing to leave? 
Yes! An exit plan is very wise! First try not to share that you are leaving with anyone, until you have to that is. Months or weeks before you leave, you could start to develop a portfolio for your professional registration body, and/or future University courses (this is often required for an application etc). No matter what the reason, a portfolio is an asset. Gather written references from people in your organization who are highly respected. If there is a good day with your supervisor/manager, request a written reference for your portfolio. This becomes a good source of references, and also, a good resource for any future complaints that a bad day with the bully may bring. Hope this helps!

Any suggestions when preparing for a new job interview after being bullied in the workplace? 
Our presentation in the interview is everything. Depending on your life circumstances e.g. (finances and mouths to feed) some may have to ‘fake it until you make it’. You will need a good support system, and a lot of self care. Ideally, if you are able, you owe it to yourselves and to the clients you serve, to take the time to recover and feel confident/competent again. Then if you do speak to a past difficulty during an interview, you will show balance with facts, personal insight, growth, and a positive attitude towards your future. We are often too hard on ourselves and push ourselves too soon. Take time to heal if you can. Be mindful about the interviewers and observe who will be your future supervisor/manager. You are also interviewing them. You ‘may’ want to ask questions about your new team and how they will (or have) worked through issues/conflicts. Being aware of the characteristics of a bully helped me. I turned down a job offer when I observed characteristics in one of the interviewers (my future supervisor/manager). It can be a bit of a ‘land mine’ out there so beware of the signs!

I feel sorry for new employees coming into my work environment when I know it is only a matter of time before they see the true colors of this office. They are so fresh, excited, and ready with innovative ideas. I remember feeling this too and it is a shame that these lights go dim. What can I do to help them without being the messenger of bad news? I feel unethical watching this over and over again, and doing nothing. 
This is a good question! Depending on your worksite, here are some tips.

  • Ask your HR office and/or Union Reps to include an information package on WPB in their orientation kit. You can ask an expert for a package, or create one.
  • Advocate, or create a Bulletin for your lunch room wall which illustrates the signs of WPB.
  • Have a resource kit, books, articles, and/or print outs of blogings etc, in your lunch room.
  • Request an ‘in-service’ presentation for a staff meeting (this is normal for some offices), or invite them to join you for a webinar on this subject.
  • Host a WPB workshop for your site and invite an expert.
  • Have information ready and when the time is right, make it available to the newcomer.
  • Be sure you are seeking solutions for you too.