Q: I have been bullied within my social work team over the past three years. The person who did this has now been removed, but I’ve been left disillusioned. Do I stay in social work, my team and authority?
A: Only you have the answer to this. The after-effects of bullying can stay with you for a long time. You say that the bully has been removed from the team, rather than leaving the team of his/her own accord, so I am assuming that you were able to raise the issue and that it was managed appropriately. This is good news, which you should concentrate on. So often, the nature of the bullying means that the person being bullied feels isolated and unable to do much about it.
I would hope that somewhere in the action plan, there is a recognition that your confidence will have taken a bashing, and that extra support and encouragement is available to you. If this is not apparent, explain how you feel to the person who took responsibility for investigating the matter and/or your line manager and/or a senior colleague.
The important thing is to be able to move forward and not focus too much on a very unpleasant period. I sometimes get called in as an independent investigator and part of my investigation is always to establish what the complainant would value as an outcome.
Sometimes, people focus on getting the perpetrator fired, “and then things can get back to where they should be”. But not always. As you imply, sometimes the way forward is to do something different and leave the whole sorry story behind.
Perhaps it is time to look for other opportunities anyway. Often, there is a feeling of being let down by colleagues and managers who allowed the bullying to continue over such a long period. When this happens, even though the perpetrator has been removed, it can be difficult to re-establish a happy working environment.
Only you know how you feel and what you would value most. It may be that you are ready for other challenges and opportunities, and this is a good time to make that move now that the loose ends have been tied up. Alternatively, you might now be able to concentrate on the things about your current job which give you satisfaction which you now have a free hand to do well.
Alison Sanger is a social care HR consultant
A: I was bullied at work for several years and felt I had to move to another job to regain my self-confidence. My work colleagues supported me but couldn’t prevent the bullying, which was at a high level. I have been in a new job for six months now and feel much better. It takes time to regain self-esteem, but as long as you can begin to believe in yourself you do start to feel better.
Name and address withheld
A: Never forget all bullies are cowards underneath. Remembering that will help you to regain your confidence, stand your ground, and get back to doing the job you presumably used to enjoy!.
Name and address withheld
26 JULY QUESTION
Q: I am just about to graduate as a qualified social worker and would like to work in an older people’s team. It is a very anxious time, with finding work and participating in interviews. What advice would you give to a newly qualified social worker?
We will answer this question in the 26 July issue of Community Care. We want to publish your advice – please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday 11 July.
Do you have your own career dilemma? Send your comments or questions for consideration by our HR expert and your peers to email@example.com.