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Bullying in the Workplace

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I feel EXTREMELY STRONG about the topic of BULLYING AT THE WORKPLACE!!! So strong that I have decided today to make this my topic of discussion. Or to write about it and just share it.

Most of the time if you want to get over something you must write about it or talk about it. In my case I am writing about bullying in the workplace because I strongly feel that it is becoming worse these days.

Bullies are in every type of environment and it doesn't matter in what type of industry. They are always there. I would like to share my bullying experience in the Chef/Hospitality Industry.

As I have mentioned before in a post of mine, I am actually a very soft person, and there for a lot of people took advantage of me over the years.

Actually in the beginning as a Commis Chef I didn't experience so much bullying, only after my 3rd job I came across some bullying. But in the last 2 years I have experienced most in bullying in the workplace.

At my one job, luckily I wasn't there too long, I dealt with a man as a bully. In the beginning the owners enjoyed my food and with the weekly one on one (to discuss good or bad feedback) everything went well. The pressure was a bit high, but I coped with it very well. But unfortunately there was a lady in another department of the business who did things like taking food photos behind my back and telling the owner that I don't know how to prepare sweet potatoes. Meanwhile they asked the other sous chef to make the sweet potato dish and I dealing with all the orders didn't see what he did. And in my opinion, every body have their own way or method. But twisting words like that???

At this same job, the man bully happened to be this lady's fiancé. They bought shares into this business with the owners, and the owners moved to the back ground scene. So very early this man bully as I call him, decided who must go and who will stay. And fortunately he had a certain few individuals in his mind and I happened to be one of them that who has to go. This man bully verbally tortured me, gold hold of my CV which I applied for the job and told me that my CV ‘looks better than my skills are’. I could not believed it. I would never put things on my CV which isn't true.

He really verbally tortured me, expected to do food costing and counting without a proper computerized program, took our store keys away. So every time we happened to need something from the store, we needed to run and find him first (and he could be anywhere on the large estate!!!), then get the stuff and lost an awful lot of unnecessary time. He seemed too paranoid of people stealing things. Which do happen often in Restaurants, but I used the key most of the time myself.

The torturing went on for quite some time, calling me to his office, then having to go cook when back in the kitchen after being bullying. So we actually got to the point where they offered me a package to leave. And not return.

I took the package, moved on and the next thing I heard he did the same thing with the Administration lady. He tortured and verbally abused her as well. So she had to leave as well. Both of us CV's got an ENORMOUS DISADVANTAGE when applying for future jobs. this is where my whole chef career started to fall apart. And both of us struggled with interviews due to the fact that all the interviewers ask questions and you are not allowed to really explain what happened. And they got rid of the lady who baked wonderful breads by accusing her of stealing roses. And of 3 waiters.
AND THE BEST OF ALL: The left after 6 months. After destroying somewhat of 5-8 other employees CV's for future jobs.

In my later experience I got to do with a lady bully as an owner. I am till today not sure why she acted like this. I actually liked her and where I worked. It was so beautiful. This was very negative. This place wasn't listed on Trip Advisor, nor did it have any starts. It was just an ordinary laid back environment. But we made the food beautifully, it was fresh quality and way beyond just something standard. The compliments came in from the customers and guests’ side but the owner used to always criticize me on small stupid things.

There was 1 small item on the menu which certainly wasn't my strong point at all. And I admitted it, time and time again. I couldn't help, for the dozen of things I am actually very good at, I had to e not so good in something. And it happened to be this particular item. But I kept practicing it. She used to really humiliate me in front of my colleague telling me how could I not be good at it. Later on she went much further by this humiliation by telling her friends - a couple I knew from earlier in my chef career- but also happened to be her friends, I am not good with this item. I really felt humiliated and that she didn't need to go this far. So until today, I don't want to eat or see that item on any menu. This is how I feel about it, it constantly reminds me of her.

The more time passed, I later got scared of her. When I used to tell her what ingredients we needed for the items to prep on the menu, she always used to moan about it. I kept our lists as small as possible. With a large a la carte menu you never know what guests will order. There for you need all the things in stock.

I was under so much pressure (not work pressure), but her mistreatment. On a public holiday I had to work entirely alone, being the chef, waiter, cleaner, doing 3 person's job and serving 8 tables all at once. I really felt exhausted that day. Just so they could save up a few ZAR rand not to have another staff member helping me. I had to explain to guests ‘Sorry I am all alone, I can help you but please be patient.’ Which for me, wasn't ‘on’ at all! I didn't feel in control at all with that situation.

It came out that the business is taking strain because of the lack of rain, so she kept on going that they will have to choose who is the cheapest in labour. I really felt that I could loose my job any moment as they just one month decided to re-schedule our 5 day week to 3 days without any prior notice.

To get to the bottom line, I got a job after them because of desperation, and it turned out to be the worst choice. I believe she wanted to get rid of me, and pushed me until I eventually decided to move myself. I worked here also without a contract - I will definitely use this as a future topic on my blog.

I gave so much input into the menu, made a difference, and enjoyed the customers and the cooking, but all to be thrown away for the wolves.

I don't think bosses, employers or colleagues know how much damage they do when they mistreat you. You start loosing confidence, you need to start believing in yourself again. It really does an awful lot of damage to one's self esteem as well.

For everybody who might be reading this, I hope you will use this as signs to move on if you experience any or similar experiences as this. Just remember, this industry is HARD, REALLY HARD.

Don't let bullies get under your skin. You are good with what you are doing. You have come this far.

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