Bullying in the workplace – Do you tolerate it?

Just lately I have been noticing that the more I do the more pressure I receive to do even more.

It's summer holiday time so we field engineers are somewhat thin on the ground and the number of urgent calls seems to be increasing.

A major UK bank has a large corporate account with us and they feel that I should be available 24/7 exclusively for them. If only I had the time!

I have not had a call there for some months when I got a call from the corporate account manager, asking when I was going in to sort out all the problems, they were concerned that the customer was going to withdraw from the contract and were seeking to lay the blame at my door.

I checked my job queue and could see no calls for them so I asked what the problem was.

"Don't you know? They've been complaining at high level about the machine, they want it out."

I remember that when I recommended they have a new machine my suggestion for the kind they needed was overruled in favour of the more expensive but less suitable model.

My fears had come home to roost.

I explained that, for the kind of work they did, the machine was the wrong choice and there was little I could do, other than recommend that it should be swapped out. As this would impinge on budgets there is little chance of it being done, so I am afraid that the situation will remain unresolved.

Then the threats started:

"If we lose this contract we will take a dim view."

"We will have to speak to your manager."

"Nobody else has this kind of trouble." (This is rubbish; most people with this kind of machine have the same trouble)

I'm not responsible for the design or specification of the equipment, just for installing it and fixing it. I dislike the fact that the pressure is put on me to find solutions for the insoluble.

With this in mind I undertook some research.

Apparently it is OK to refuse a job, it is OK to tell someone that their attitude makes me uncomfortable and it is OK to have feelings.

People are more important than contracts, money, shareholder value, anything. Yes, we have to try to provide the service that the customer pays for, but unpleasantness does not achieve anything.

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