Bullied at work during the probation period

23 posts in this topic

I need some advice please.

 

I'm not articulate in general, in any language including my mother tongue, so when I get bullied I really don't know how to speak up or defend myself in the moment or at all. I just typically look dumb.

 

I'm new to a job and depend on a colleague to show me and teach me things. It is a work place which has a pretty steep learning curve. Lots of stuff and lots of details to learn and remember, not to mention I haven't worked for years in this sector.

 

This colleague is rude and critical, always irritated by me and she does not hide her disdain. Just being around her is hard. She says my attitude is poor and I don't care about my work whenever I can't remember something. She displays frustration whenever I have to ask her for something. I'm trying my best and working hard, but I'm new and I don't know things. I'm sad to admit that this is totally affecting my confidence and it makes it harder to learn. I'm extremely depressed and dread going to work everyday. She is indispensable because she is keeping things running and she complains about my attitude to the boss and he listens to her. It doesn't help that my work is suffering because of her. Does this constitute bullying? Do I have any rights given that I'm still on the probationary period of 6 months?

 

This job is so important to me. I gave up a lot to move here and I was feeling so optimistic about this opportunity. But just one person is making my life hell here. I feel sad and worry about going to work everyday, and I'm so depressed I have not tried to make any friends or do anything here in Germany. I know I should be tougher but I'm just not.

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1 hour ago, Murdock said:

I need some advice please.

Start looking for a new job.

 

1 hour ago, Murdock said:

She is indispensable because she is keeping things running and she complains about my attitude to the boss and he listens to her. It doesn't help that my work is suffering because of her. Does this constitute bullying?

Why would it be bullying? She is not happy with your performance, she tells you that and her boss. Sounds pretty normal to me. 

It sounds that you do not match their expectations. Of course that is very stressful for you, but nothing illegal here. Just find a better suitable job.

 

1 hour ago, Murdock said:

Do I have any rights given that I'm still on the probationary period of 6 months?

If she is not doing anything illegal, not really, independently of probation period.

 

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Sorry to hear you are finding your new job stressful.  How fluent is your German language?

Have you asked to meet with your Boss and colleague- sit down and express your concerns?

Time to look at other options in work possibilities.

 

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As @LeonG said, talk to your actual boss ASAP and clarify expectations.

 

This is Germany, have you worked here before? People can often seem a little... critical... it’s not always reflective of how they really feel or how you’re doing.

 

but you need to be objective and assertive towards your boss (not aggressive!) in defending your own performance if you’re doing perfectly fine.

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8 hours ago, Murdock said:

I need some advice please.

 

I'm not articulate in general, in any language including my mother tongue, so when I get bullied I really don't know how to speak up or defend myself in the moment or at all. I just typically look dumb.

 

I'm new to a job and depend on a colleague to show me and teach me things. It is a work place which has a pretty steep learning curve. Lots of stuff and lots of details to learn and remember, not to mention I haven't worked for years in this sector.

 

This colleague is rude and critical, always irritated by me and she does not hide her disdain. Just being around her is hard. She says my attitude is poor and I don't care about my work whenever I can't remember something. She displays frustration whenever I have to ask her for something. I'm trying my best and working hard, but I'm new and I don't know things. I'm sad to admit that this is totally affecting my confidence and it makes it harder to learn. I'm extremely depressed and dread going to work everyday. She is indispensable because she is keeping things running and she complains about my attitude to the boss and he listens to her. It doesn't help that my work is suffering because of her. Does this constitute bullying? Do I have any rights given that I'm still on the probationary period of 6 months?

 

This job is so important to me. I gave up a lot to move here and I was feeling so optimistic about this opportunity. But just one person is making my life hell here. I feel sad and worry about going to work everyday, and I'm so depressed I have not tried to make any friends or do anything here in Germany. I know I should be tougher but I'm just not.

May be she is afraid of you that she loses her importance in her workplace.  If you are able to make progress every day, it's just a matter of time until you gain knowledge that she can not bully you any longer.  

But if she is not letting you learn anything and you are stuck , then look for another job.

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Your post is perfectly articulate and your analysis lucid!

 

You're dependent on a ratty old bag - possibly because she is under pressure (and menopausal??) -  to learn a new job. Not a nice place to be in. But what you describe sounds so standard German work place practice I would not jump ship immediately. Out of the pan and into the fire. Are you new to Germany? If so this could just be culture shock. It is not easy to grow a thick skin, but very necessary. Steep learning curves are painful. Hang on in there for now. Wouldn't waste your energy trying to document and prove her nastiness to the boss. Concentrate on learning the job. Stand up to the woman and show her you will not be pushed around. If she complains about your attitude, dare to disagree and remind her you are not born knowing the job. Scowl while you are saying it. Maybe you are just too polite? You sound a little lacking in confidence - do you look like a victim?

 

There will come a point where you will either have settled in better or decide she really is not someone you want in your life and best to move on. I wish you luck.

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Dear Murdock,

 

Firstly I want to say to you how heartfelt sorry I am that you are going through this. I endured several colleagues (all women I am sorry to say) that treated me like this at my first job in Germany. In such a case I bit my tongue, tucked my heart into my sleeve and waited two and a half years before I finally say enough was enough---one day I called in sick and applied for a new work visa, I also had a new job waiting in the wings. 

 

Going through this really damaged my mental health and sense of wellbeing in Germany. I am now three years out of that experience and I will be honest with you I am still not over it. If there's anyway you can spare yourself the anguish then do it.

 

The question is really this: is it this one employee who  is so toxic and bitter or is this attitude systemic and rampant within the whole organization? If it it really is just this one employee you still may have a chance to get straight answers and smooth things out with management. However, if as I suspect, it's organization wide just start looking for new possibilities now. You will have little to no chance confronting a posionous employee with posionious management. Especially because you, "the foreigner" have little crediablity in their eyes.

 

It really makes me sick how many tales of mobbing and woe I have heard from so many people----both German and foreigner. Harassment and bullying are really a huge issue in this country and so many people I have talked to have suffered serious mental and emotional trauma in this regard. It's crazy to me how many Germans like to virtual signal about their socially progressive attitudes but workplaces are often little more than the Schulhof for adults. As far as I know the laws and regulations regarding workplace mobbing almost non-existant and everyone pushes the issue away. Why?

 

Anyway Murdock I wish you all the best.

 

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Sorry to hear that you're going through this. Your colleague should be able to critique your work without being rude or disdainful. So it does sound like bullying to me and I don't think you should be expected to put up with it even during the probation period. I agree with others who say that you should speak to your boss. Perhaps you could frame it as a mid-probation review to see where you stand with him and determine whether the constant negative feedback and denigration of your attitude you're receiving from your colleague, which you find quite demoralising, is likely to result in the boss deciding that you have failed the probation period.

 

This woman's experience sounds similar to yours.

I Survived A Workplace Bully!!!

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6 hours ago, optimista said:

You're dependent on a ratty old bag - possibly because she is under pressure (and menopausal??)

 

Wow!  

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I am menopausal and I can assure you there are times some menopausal women are ratbags. With reason.

I have also trained newbies - in jobs where I was under pressure - without being menopausal. It is hard work at the best of times. And some "students" are better than others.

Just guessing...

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I never thought I would say this but I miss the red button.

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I think this forum is far better without the red button. From what I recall, it wasn't used only occasionally to reprimand people for egregiously offensive remarks (which I don't think optimista's comments are) but often because people just happened to disagree with a poster's point of view or just didn't like them. The red button could be misused, dare I say it to bully certain posters.

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3 hours ago, optimista said:

I am menopausal and I can assure you there are times some menopausal women are ratbags. With reason.

I have also trained newbies - in jobs where I was under pressure - without being menopausal. It is hard work at the best of times. And some "students" are better than others.

Just guessing...

 

there are times when ALL people are "ratbags".   What similarly strong adjectives do you have for men who behave like this coworker? 

 

I don't even know where the assumption that the offending coworker is "old" let alone a "ratty old bag" came from.  Then going further to associate "ratty old bags" with menopause - naturally! - really?  FFS this is among the oldest nasty stereotypes against women going.  

 

We have no idea how old this coworker is, and we have no idea if this is just her personality or not - for all we know she has been a "bully" since childhood.  And we also have no idea if OP is objectively not suited to the tasks of the job and this coworker is stuck baby sitting them in addition to doing her normal job.  There are LOADS of reasons she could be unpleasant that have nothing at all to do with her age or reproductive stage of life.

 

gobsmacked that anyone leaps to this explanation with so little information to base it on.

 

 

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Perhaps the OP will come back and tell us a little more about her colleague.

 

13 hours ago, lisa13 said:

What similarly strong adjectives do you have for men who behave like this coworker?

Arseholes and idiots.

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On 3/2/2020, 12:11:47, Murdock said:

I need some advice please.

 

I'm not articulate in general, in any language including my mother tongue, so when I get bullied I really don't know how to speak up or defend myself in the moment or at all. I just typically look dumb.

 

I'm new to a job and depend on a colleague to show me and teach me things. It is a work place which has a pretty steep learning curve. Lots of stuff and lots of details to learn and remember, not to mention I haven't worked for years in this sector.

 

This colleague is rude and critical, always irritated by me and she does not hide her disdain. Just being around her is hard. She says my attitude is poor and I don't care about my work whenever I can't remember something. She displays frustration whenever I have to ask her for something. I'm trying my best and working hard, but I'm new and I don't know things. I'm sad to admit that this is totally affecting my confidence and it makes it harder to learn. I'm extremely depressed and dread going to work everyday. She is indispensable because she is keeping things running and she complains about my attitude to the boss and he listens to her. It doesn't help that my work is suffering because of her. Does this constitute bullying? Do I have any rights given that I'm still on the probationary period of 6 months?

 

This job is so important to me. I gave up a lot to move here and I was feeling so optimistic about this opportunity. But just one person is making my life hell here. I feel sad and worry about going to work everyday, and I'm so depressed I have not tried to make any friends or do anything here in Germany. I know I should be tougher but I'm just not.

 

Have you tried calling her out on it? If you are truely not bringing any of this behavior on yourself and she is just being a mean nasty person because thats how it is; maybe confront her on it and stand up for yourself. 

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Hi, you are asking for advising you here it goes:

- reflect, what are you doing wrong? where you can improve? plan and act.

- whatever "feedback" she gives you, note it, create an action plan and execute it. Example: she complains you forget things > start making notes, create a document detailing the process, store it on a public server/folder/etc. You want to be able, in a couple of months, to show you are acting on that. Also, you won't forget and she will have no reason to complain again.

- go to her and sit together, ask for informal feedback, share with her your actions plans

- go to her boss, show yourself as a positive person, say: I have received this feedback and I am doing this and that, make sure her boss sees you are doing things based on her "feedback". You want her boss to know your point of view, but from a positive perspective, don't complain about her, but share with him all the things you are doing to improve.

 

hope it helps.

 

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2 hours ago, optimista said:

Perhaps the OP will come back and tell us a little more about her colleague.

 

Arseholes and idiots.

you're missing the point on both counts.

 

nevermind.

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3 hours ago, lisa13 said:

you're missing the point on both counts.

 

nevermind.

You've been around here long enough to know how things work :-)

Asking for advice on TT is like panning for gold.
There's a lot of crap, you get panned and you sift though and find the good (useful) stuff.

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I am very sorry you are having all this trouble at work.

I am also wondering if some of what you are experiencing might be cultural differences. A lot of Germans are not afraid to tell you that you are doing something wrong. Especially when they want to teach you something. Nothing personal, just different. In the companies I worked for in the US, I never heard "I disagree…." in a discussion. Especially not to a boss. I say that to mine here all the time. Then we discuss. One of my US colleagues later worked in Germany and was shocked about the lively discussions people would have with their superiors. 

 

But: Since you perceive her behaviour as rude and disdainful and it is affecting your work, you should definitely take action. Talk to your boss and maybe sit down with him/her and the colleague. They hired you so they want you to work there. It is in their best interest that you learn the job well and learn it fast. If the person who is teaching you is making that difficult for you, something needs to change. 

 

Having said that, I have also had to teach a job to people to just didn't take nay notes and would ask the same questions over and over again instead of just writing it down once. When you have your own job to do besides teaching them, it gets really annoying really quickly… No reason to bitch at the new kid, though. Just issue them a note pad and tell them to write it down because next time they have to do it. 

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