According to a survey carried out by the recruitment firm Totaljobs
20% of people have experienced an enemy at work to such an extent that
they have called in sick because they couldn’t face seeing their
nemesis. Most of us will have come across a colleague who just rubs
you up the wrong way, some one who seems to disagree with everything
you say just for the sake of it and someone you suspect criticises you
behind your back.
It may be a personality clash or may be there is more to it.
We were both pleasant and friendly in a formal way towards each
other. But I was always a little cautious in their presence. I had
made some slight passing comment about the boss’s well know habit of
misplacing papers/reports. There was something about his response that
made me make a note to be more guarded in the future.
As far as I was concerned he was a colleague, I thought him
young, ambitious and good at his job. I didn’t have a lot of contact
with him, I didn’t manage that side of the business.
I didn’t realise he wanted my job. This didn’t occur to me as he
had only recently been promoted to his current post. A post for which
I helped him prepare for the interview. Come to think of it he was
rather dismissive of my advice.
I thought him a good appointment and was genuinely pleased when he
was confirmed in the post. All this changed about 12 months later.
My loyal and extremely able PA was temporarily seconded to the
director when his long serving PA retired. In this capacity she
overheard my colleague running me down to the director. When she told
me I was surprised because I had never known her be indiscreet. I
played it down but she was clearly upset by what she had overheard.
She said this was not the first occasion and that the director seemed
to be encouraging this gossiping which she said had now become
planning a senior management team restructuring with the sole intent
of moving me out of my post and moving this person in.
Not long after this the director announced to the senior management
team that he intended to make changes to refresh the set up and make
the work load more evenly balanced. Details yet to be worked out. We
all recognised that the structure had become distorted being pulled
one way by the move to focused on localities and another to facilitate
increased specialisation. We were asked to go away and come back with
ideas on how we could square this circle. Everyone seemed up for it,
we had all covered different aspects of the business before and felt
comfortable with assuming different responsibilities.
Shortly afterwards the director called me in to talk about the new
structure. He had a plan and I was to be moved to another role as yet
unclear. Following discussions the others would remain in their
current posts with some minor changes in reporting arrangements. He
had some one in mind for my old post!
I wasn’t being made redundant. I would retain my current salary but
it would be on a new temporary contact. This would,” give me plenty of
time to find another post after all I had made it clear I thought I
was ready for a more senior post”.
It was obvious to me that the fact that redundancy was not being
proposed ment that non of this had been agreed with the chief
executive or the leader who might have asked awkward questions. I was
being pushed out but on the quiet.
I could have raise my concerns with the cabinet member but I didn’t
feel our relationship was strong enough. Any way it’s generally
considered inappropriate to involve members in conflicts between
officers. I could have appealed directly to the chief executive but
this would be risky because as far as I knew he had no concerns about
the directors management style so he would be unlikely to do anything
more than raise the matter informally in their next one to one. And I
would risk being seen as disloyal and acquiring some negative labels.
I could have approached the corporate head of HR for advice, their
position would make them, in theory , impartial. However I knew from
experience their advice would be to submit a formal grievance against
the director for bulling and harassment if I had hard evidence,
witness statements and emails, of which there were non. Which left
find another job. Which is what I did.
A few months later I got my more senior post in another Authority. My
nemesis got my post . There was no restructuring. But that wasn’t an
end to the story. Most people were surprised when the director took
early retirement and guess who got his job!
Blair Mcpherson former Director ,author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk