Okay, so maybe the title is a little dramatic, but it’s not too far off. I worked for a place in the city that was listed as one of the top 12 places with 100 or less employees. We were gifted things when we reached budgets (though I was never lucky enough to be part of that), we had monthly massages, a mini cafe, free breakfasts, parties, and (what appeared to be) a fairly laid back environment where we were apparently encouraged to be ourselves and be creative. There was, however, an underground of discontent and dissatisfaction. Thought I didn’t know about that underground until I was well on my way out the door.
I won’t name the place, or say where in the city it was, so let us call it King’s. I went for my interview, my second interview and then got the phone call saying I got the job all in the one day. I was ecstatic my dreams had all been answered, I finally had a job, I could start living my life again. I was overwhelmed with the apparent generosity of the workplace. I met what would become my department, I got into training and then I started working on my own. I worked fairly well, I learnt quickly, I made my targets and I ended up becoming one of the people that other’s would turn to for assistance. It was a fairly good achievement in my eyes and I was proud of myself and the work I was doing.
And then something happened. All of a sudden, I was being told I had a bad attitude, that my numbers were too high to be real – so I must have been faking them, and that my demeanour brought the entire team ‘s morale down. I was put onto a performance review and was told I had a few weeks to shape up or I would be fired. I wasn’t sure where this was coming from, but as someone who suffered depression I thought it was beneficial to bring that up and let my bosses know that I had depression – thinking I may not have been aware when it was affecting me (Though, I’m fairly good at knowing that). I was then told that I had to inform my entire team about this. I didn’t want to. I thought it would make things worse. But I was ordered to. So I did. I was right, it made matters worse (I since found out that they were not allowed to force me to tell my team about this).
My apparent “bad attitude” and poor performance was continuously brought up, despite this they put me in charge of training the new staff members (counterintuitive, don’t you think?). They would put me in these performance reviews and make me feel horrible right before I had to be in a group exercise and then bring up my mood in that group exercise in the next review. They’d compliment me in one review and give me a slight criticism and then forget about the compliments in the next meeting and exaggerate the criticism. They’d find one minor mistake in all of my work and then harp on about it like I’d caused the next world war, and they only found the one mistake. I was criticised for my clothing choices with feedback saying that as a bigger girl there were somethings that I couldn’t wear that my smaller counterparts could wear. It seemed like I had just gone back to high school, where the skinny and pretty girls ruled the world and got away with everything, but the fatter kid couldn’t do a thing.
One of the final straws was when I was told that it was preferable for me to come into work hungover than it was to come into work and have depression. I had somehow gotten myself into a job where partying hard and turning up to work in a dishevelled, grumpy, rude state was more professional than turning up to work and keeping to myself. It was more important for the girl to have a bag of coke in her wallet than it was for me to exist as myself. I managed to pass my review and was told that my attitude had vastly improved once I started putting makeup on every day, and fake laughing at every thing anybody ever said to me. But on the inside I was dying, I was crying myself to sleep most nights and nobody cared.
I decided to leave King’s during the last phase of my performance review. I was desperately searching for a job and I finally found one. I handed in my resignation, the weight lifted, and then I had to do my leaving interview. I wish to God that I had told them what I really thought of them, and that they treated me like absolute shit and that’s why I was leaving, but no, I kept it short, sweet and then left. Leaving was one of my best decisions.
Since leaving King’s, I haven’t once been told by work that I’ve had a bad attitude or that I brought the team morale down. I haven’t changed anything about myself, I don’t fake laugh at things, I don’t wear makeup, I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not. Yes, I have bad days and times when I keep to myself or have the “back off” vibes coming, but everybody has those days.
Oh, and they still use my face as the picture of one of their services… go figure?