I was waiting for the HR rep to come to my office. It was before Covid and a staff member requested flexible work arrangements, so I was preparing for a meeting where I had to tell her no (even though I supported it).
I got a phone call from my boss who asked me to come to his office. I rushed up, not wanting to be late for my team member, and there was the HR rep.
‘Oh there you are,’ I said.
I could feel something was off. I sat down and the boss said ‘there’s no easy way to do this and it’s difficult for everyone involved.’
Then he threw a letter with some attached documents my way. It was a letter of redundancy.
I saw it coming
I actually almost asked for it. The Premier said she wanted to get rid of 10% of senior executives, and I told the boss that I understood that it might happen to me, and that I would accept one if it was offered.
Laughing at the letter shocked him. ‘I’ve never seen someone so happy to receive a redundancy before’.
I wasn’t happy. Well, maybe I was. I was in a bit of shock. I didn’t expect it to be me. I hadn’t been there 12 months yet I had made significant improvements in the culture and in the outcomes of my team. People were happier. They could tell I cared and I wanted them to succeed – and I was doing everything in my power to make it so.
All execs had recently completed our 360 degree reviews and I was told mine was one of the best. The external reviewer commended my results and the positive relationship I had with the boss.
Unfortunately secrets beat relationships everytime.
And the culture at the top wasn’t great. There were bullies, egos, aggressive and defensive leaders that didn’t like the change.
Most people say they want change, but they hate it, especially if they aren’t the ones leading it..
I was tired of pushing shit uphill. I really loved some of the people I worked with, but it’s hard to keep going when you get screamed at in meetings, undermined by peers and restricted by your boss.
So I was pleased I didn’t have to play politics anymore, I didn’t have to fight to make positive change and didn’t have to work with some pretty aggressive people.
But I was sad to be leaving a wonderful team who worked so hard. I’d built amazing relationships with so many people, but I was told to go home and not to talk to anyone about it.
I asked my boss to be the one to tell my team, which was accepted, but swiftly taken away from me when an email went around to the whole team (shocker right?).
In the end, the conscious choice was made to keep people who had multiple bullying claims, who were aggressive in their leadership style and were frankly, bad at leading teams. The decision was made to remove the people who were positive, forward thinking, collaborative and constructive.
I was just one of them.
Once the dominos start falling, it’s hard to stop them
The toxic culture persisted and worsened after I left and many highly skilled and experienced people voted with their feet and found work elsewhere.
What the executive said without saying was loud and clear.
They didn’t want change.
They were happy to support bullies and they weren’t going to improve the culture.
It’s sad because I could see the potential. I knew what it could become and there were amazing people working towards that goal.
This is just one of many personal experiences I have of being in a toxic workplace
I share more about my experiences of bullying and sexual harassment at work in the World First Lived Experience Summit I’m hosting in a couple of weeks.
I’ve been gagged by an NDA in one organisation – so I don’t share much there. But I do share the reason I started Neon Shed and how I built back after complete burnout in 2016.
I hope to see you there, use the code NEONSHED for a 10% discount. Find out more here.