I remember feeling tired, just worn out. I didn’t feel like fighting anymore. It wasn’t worth it. The “boss” had won. She could replace me with someone, anyone she thought could do the job better. The daily struggle to do my job, prove myself and keep my staff inspired in a toxic work environment while navigating her unpredictable bully tendencies of condescending, disrespectful, unwarranted jabs and humiliating comments in front of others, had taken its toll.
But, I wasn’t completely defeated. Despite the unbelievable pursuits and intimating tactics of my supervisor, the president, and his executive assistant to get me to sign their pre-written letter of resignation, I refused. Not a chance. If you want me to go, then look me in the eyes and tell me. Say it! Say, “You are fired!” No one had the courage to say it to my face; instead, my boss slipped a letter under my office door.
According to some stats, I’m just one of nearly half of all American workers who’ve been affected by workplace bullying.
As a direct target, I witnessed firsthand how being bullied affects morale, productivity, absenteeism, retention, succession planning, and employee health—including my own.
This recognition fueled my purpose, passion, and mission to influence how people feel about themselves and how they communicate with others. I knew that self-esteem, branding and effective communications were platforms to help me move past bullying, as well as pillars to improve behavior and workplace performances. After all, given my success in helping to transform hundreds of workplace cultures through employee development and becoming a go-to media expert, I felt a sense of satisfaction. Plus, being sought by major publishers to share my philosophy, reminded me I was on the right track.
However—there was a heighten truth and awareness that flowed through me as I read a written apology from my former boss admitting and owning her internal struggles when she was responsible for creating opportunities for me to develop and grow so that I could provide greater value to the organization—but instead harassed and then fired me.
As a workplace expert and speaker for the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) Speakers Bureau, it brings me to a great place because back then when I needed human resources, my HR office had no power, no influence, no say.
Now, by teaming with SHRM, I get to further impact the culture of workplaces around the world by providing development services that will help human resource professionals develop their personal brand and executive presence to be seen, heard and respected throughout the entire organization. Further, I’m confident that when human resource
professionals are in the C-Suite speaking the truth, cultures will change, employees will advance and businesses will grow and evolve beyond expectations.
Here are a few tips human resource professionals can embrace to showcase their value:
- Connect, Communicate and Advocate: When I went to human resources, I could see that they wanted to advocate for me but didn’t know how. So instead, they shrugged their shoulders and felt sorry for me. Looking back I can clearly see that the director of human resources didn’t know how to connect and communicate the impact of the toxic culture on the president’s agenda.
- Become the Hub for Organizational and Employee Progress: Get leadership’s attention by connecting and communicating how a problem is hindering the CEO/President’s goals. Then, advocate for change. I don’t ever remember reading a workplace policy handbook in its entirety until I needed to know the views and policies of certain behaviors. And, as a workshop presenter, when I’ve asked employees if they’ve read it, few hands are raised. What I discovered is leadership’s behaviors are the “unwritten rules” of the organization. In the eyes of the employees and leadership, when bad behavior goes unchallenged it’s because “human resources” isn’t doing its job.
- Think Under Cover Boss: I can’t tell you the number of people who email or phone me to share that they work for a toxic boss and are frustrated because human resources will not help. I’ve sat at the table in the C-suite and I’ve learned this: the CEO or president of the organization is looking for solutions to problems that they are too far removed to see, but are very clear these type of challenges have a drastic effect on the organization. Be the voice that confidently and courageously speaks up.
© 2018 S. Renee, a nationally recognized Self-Esteem, Branding & Communications Expert, Speaker, Coach, is a workplace expert and SHRM Speakers Bureau Presenter. She is the author of Self-Esteem for Dummies, 5 Steps to Assertiveness: How to Communicate With Confidence and Get What You Want, The Bridge to Your Brand Likability, Marketability, Credibility, Our Hearts Wonder Prayers to Heal Your Heart & Calm Your Soul, There Is More Inside: Personal Essentials to Living a Power- Packed Life. You can learn more at srenee.com.