Ever since Kathy became the team manager around 1998, she began filling just about every vacant position either with a friend or with someone she knew. I can only think that she did this in the hope that those people would be beholding to her, and support her. That's not to say that none of them were any good, but there were certainly some who could not have been selected on merit. Almost all of the people who she took on by this method were women; the one exception that I can think of being Eric Hall who happened to be a friend of an existing female colleague, Suzie, who in turn was a close friend of Kathy's, and who Kathy chose to include on the interview panel for Eric's interview. This was a new post that Kathy created for a Project Manager, and it was slightly odd because we already had the luxury of a full time Project Manager. Added to that; whenever a high profile project came up, Kathy would take it for herself to manage. We all felt that the Project Managers were under occupied, while for years I was doing the work of one and a half employees.
This recruitment method resulted in the formation of a clique, but it also created a millstone round Kathy's neck. She's a very poor people manager, and she had only made things worse for herself by creating a team that was difficult to manage. Those in the clique felt it was their right to receive favourable treatment, and to keep them sweet, Kathy gave them it. On the other hand, at one point it felt like 80% of the work was done by 20% of the team; Jaana, me, Marco and Bruce - all non clique members. Later, Stephen, Suzie, Paul and David did more than their fair share.
Kathy desperately wanted to be liked, but that shouldn't be the main goal of a manager. Ironically some of the clique strongly disliked her, and in the case of Eric; hated her. "I hate the fucking bitch!" he told me one day while he was with me and Lynn. Just as ironic, Eric also intensely disliked Suzie after she divorced David Gardiner; his chum from schooldays. It became an obsession with him, and he would work it in to just about every conversation.
Lynn had made Eric aware of a meeting that Kathy and I had with Mark Toole where Kathy had behaved like a lunatic. She had gone on an astonishing rant where she desperately invented reasons to criticise me. This was because at a similar meeting a few weeks earlier, Mark had got her to agree to stop criticising me unjustly and publicly. My union rep who witnessed it, strongly agreed that it was serious bullying. He advised Mark to take action to stop it, and he made him aware of Kathy's mistreatment of a former colleague.
Although Eric hated Kathy, he knew which side his bread was buttered on. He defended Kathy's behaviour and said that she was entitled to behave that way because I had submitted a grievance against her. He then added that if I was ever to submit a grievance against him, he would kick my "fucking" head in. I commented on his aggression, and he quickly apologised, but he'd shown just how irrational he was on the topic. His experience in the team was the complete opposite of mine. Kathy treated him with dignity; he was never overworked, or anywhere near it; he was allowed to attend training courses and conferences; and there's probably more that I don't know about. I told him that during my grievance, I was asked what outcome I wanted, and I said that I wanted Kathy removed from the team. If that were to have happened (and it SHOULD have happened), it would have been a shock to Eric's system to have a new manager that treats everyone equally, and expects a day's work from him. A new manager might even decide that there just isn't enough work to justify having two full time Project Managers, and that the team needed people with development skills. Every year, Kathy would present the team with a list, several pages long, of development work that had been requested, and every year we barely scratched the surface of that list. Mark Toole got rid of a whole team to meet his staff budget cut. In my opinion it would have made far more sense to have looked at each role in the department and considered what it was actually accomplishing. I know that Lynn and Eric had both been nervous about the cuts. And how could Mark justify getting rid of Alison, Oron and Rob while keeping Eileen, Jackie and Selina?
David had told Eric about how Jackie had screamed at me a couple of weeks earlier. I said it was ridiculous, and Eric tried to play it down by saying something like "That's just how Jackie is. You're never going to change her." I said that Kathy had had 12 years to do something about her. He again defended Kathy by saying that she had attempted to sort Jackie out a couple of years earlier when Jackie had been sending out overly aggressive and overly technical emails to other (non technical) teams. Kathy had told Jackie not to send out any more emails without checking with her first. Jackie then went off sick on work related stress because of it, so Kathy backed off and dropped the matter.
There was an improper, unhealthy work relationship between Kathy and Eric. The deal was that they would support each other even when they were wrong or being dishonest. One time at a full team meeting, Eric, who is non technical, made a suggestion. It would have been an excellent suggestion except for the fact that it was technically impossible. I pointed out why it couldn't work, and how if we attempted it, we would simply cause ourselves more work. Kathy completely ignored me, and said it was a good idea, and that we would implement it. This was in a room full of technical experts. It wasn't rocket science, but nobody backed me up. Two minutes after the meeting, Eric came to me privately to say that after he had thought about it, he realised his suggestion wouldn't work. It was never mentioned again, but I was left to look like an idiot.
On another occasion, Kathy had sent me a cheeky email criticising me for not knowing the time in lieu procedure. She was wrong, and this was just more unjust criticism. I'd had enough of it, and I booked a meeting with her to discuss her behaviour towards me. On my way to Kathy's room, I asked Eric what he understood the TIL procedure to be. He said there was no procedure, and that it was taken on trust. I asked Kathy to explain her criticism. She said that I must follow the correct procedure like everyone else, and she said that Eric always does it correctly. I told her that Eric had just told me that there was no procedure. She quickly changed the subject. It transpired that I was the only person following the correct procedure because I was the only person she had told to follow it. I suspect she was planning to get Eric to say that there was a procedure, but I had accidently spoilt her plan. The reason Kathy had asked me to follow a TIL procedure was because Jackie had been spreading rumours claiming that I was taking TIL I wasn't entitled to.
It demonstrates how warped Kathy's mind is that she would unjustly criticise me for something she has dishonestly invented like not following a non existant procedure when I am the only one following the correct procedure for something as trivial as time in lieu, while someone like Eileen MacDonald can repeatedly breech university security procedures, and rather than discipline or criticise Eileen, she would rather change the procedure and reduce security. It's no wonder she desperately avoided discussing her behaviour. How could she possibly explain that?
Kathy also inappropriately involved Eric in matters that were private. For example she wanted him to attend my return to work interview. When I asked her if she did that with other employees, she told me it was none of my business, yet she wanted Eric to know all about MY business.
On another occasion, there had been a minor issue with a computer system. Normally she wouldn't have cared much about the issue. However, she wrongly thought that I was at fault, and decided to criticise me. She had criticised me a number of times before, only to find out she was wrong. This time she was sure. It wasn't sufficient to pop into my room and have a quiet word. She made a big song and dance about it, and sent a lengthy email. In order to gain further satisfaction, she copied her email to Eric, even though it had nothing to do with him. Sad to say; she was wrong again! Unlike Kathy who waited until after the event to appear clever and say that I should have anticipated the problem, I had actually anticipated the problem and done everything in my power to prevent it, and had even worked late doing so. Furthermore, I could prove it. Just like every other time she criticised me inappropriately, no apology was forthcoming. Kathy doesn't do apologies.
Kathy took part in a training course that was to last more than a year. Eric was one of four team members required to answer questions in order to rate Kathy as a manager. Kathy was rated very badly. She received scores of 2 and 3 while the others on the course scored 7s and 8s. Eric told me she received the worst scores that anybody had ever received on the course. When Kathy found out, she met with the four team members, and tried to persuade them that they hadn't understood the questions. They said that they had felt intimidated by this. At the end of her course, the same four were asked to answer the questions again. Eric admitted that he had lied in order to give Kathy better scores than she deserved, just for a quiet life. This angered Jaana who also answered the questions, because she felt the whole exercise was a waste of time if they weren't honest. It was worse than a waste of time, it produced inaccurate data that was intended to improve Kathy's performance.
Eric was one of he people that Karen Stark and Eileen Schofield interviewed as part of their fake investigation for my grievance. Some of those interviewed had denied things they had done to me, including things done in front of a dozen or more witnesses. Eileen took their denials to be proof that I had just made it up. In a fake investigation, that's what you do; you certainly don't ask the witnesses, and you don't ask the the complainant if they have evidence. You also ignore the fact that Kathy had already admitted that she was fully aware that the incidents happened, and that she had signed a document saying so. Eric went a stage further and made stuff up to help Kathy in her hour of need. He said that he felt I had "a problem with women". In the fake investigation, Eric wasn't asked to give any examples of this problem he felt I had with women. Eric knows I don't have a problem with women. When I first read his statement, I didn't see the point in him saying it. It wasn't something that Kathy had ever suggested. I found out later when I saw the notes of Kathy's meeting with Karen and Eileen. It was Karen Stark who, completely out of the blue, had planted the suggestion in Kathy's mind. Kathy took the opportunity to run with it. No doubt she passed the suggestion to Eric and Eileen MacDonald. The suggestion was then used in an attempt to get me sacked, and by the time Una Forsyth made her statement for the disciplinary investigation, the story had grown arms and legs, and I "only got on with two out of the eleven women in the team". Of course, in a fake investigation you don't ask those other nine women if they get on with me, and if not, why not. You also wouldn't ask Una why she cooked me a meal and asked me to be her Facebook friend when she didn't get on with me. Una didn't cook Eric a meal. They weren't friends on Facebook, and I don't think she showed him her photo of her stepping out of the shower with just a towel to hide her modesty. Maybe she has a problem with men?
Eric said "Kathy treats everyone professionally and equally", and that she had "an excellent way of managing the team". He didn't say anything about him "hating the fucking bitch" or how he only scored her 3 out of 10 then lied just for a "quiet life". If there was an award for the team's brownest nose, Eric's the winner!
To be continued...
David Black, 10c Bruce Street, Stirling, FK8 1PB
David, my Database Administrator colleague, had some idea of what it is like to be singled out for bullying by a manager. Before joining the university, David had suffered a measure of bullying by one of his bosses while he worked at Prudential UK in Stirling.
He worked 18 hours a week at the university, and this allowed him to spend time on other interests. He worked in radio as a DJ on Central FM, and sat in on Council related meetings in Stirling on a voluntary basis, such as Mercat Cross Community Council, Stirling Boys' Club and Stirling City Heritage Trust. He portrays himself as public spirited; a man who uses his time to benefit the community. You would certainly think he would stand up for justice and what's right.
Kathy McCabe had been bullying me for some time before I was even aware of the term Workplace Bullying. Before that, I thought bullying only happened in the playground at school. The first effect it had on me was that I couldn't sleep. I'd spend most of the night worrying and thinking "Why is she doing it, and why has she chosen me to do it to?" We had got on fairy well, and she could always rely on me with any work, and I required almost none of her time. For about seven years I had sacrificed about 15 hours of my own time every week to ensure everything ran smoothly. I thought that I would have been the last person she would ever want to bully. However, I think it's for that very reason that I became her target.
To help get some sleep and reduce the intrusive thoughts, I increased my alcohol intake until I was eventually drinking more than a litre of whisky a day. I used to do a lot of running, but I had to give that up. When you're running, there's nothing to do but think. Playing squash was much easier because my mind was forced to concentrate on the game. Eventually I had to give that up too. Gaps between points were being filled with unpleasant thoughts. I gave up dancing too when it began to feel as though I was trapped. I only felt safe dancing with Ruth. If I sat down for a rest, I'd immediately be approached by a woman. It would be extremely rude to turn down a dance, so I'd feel trapped dancing and hating every second of it, and as soon as it finished, I'd need to grab hold of Ruth before any other woman came for me.
During the time I was suspended from work, I began to hyperventilate, and there were a couple of panic attacks. There were also a couple of times when I was outside and everything sounded much louder than normal, and it made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I literally had to run home with my hands covering my ears. For a while, I only felt safe at home.
One day I suddenly realised that I hadn't eaten for more than three days; yet I wasn't hungry.
It was effecting Ruth too. Once she said she was feeling overcome with worry. Half an hour later, she passed out. She had to spend the rest of the day in hospital.
Just as she had done a few times before, Jackie O'Neil screamed at me in the office and slammed her hand on her desk in anger. This was because a job she was working on failed, and she wrongly thought that I was to blame, when in fact, she was to blame. David was standing right next to us at Jackie's desk. He was also with me when I informed Kathy McCabe that Jackie had screamed at me again. Jackie had spoken to Kathy about it, and had told Kathy that she had to work till 10pm that night because of the failure. David told Kathy that the failure would have only held Jackie up for a short time. I then confirmed this in an email to Kathy who then passed my email to Mark Toole. Mark offered to arrange a meeting with me and Jackie to discuss the matter. I accepted, but that meeting never took place. Instead Jackie made a malicious complaint against me. She insisted that I was to blame for the failure, and denied that she had screamed. I had told Mark that David had seen the incident, and Jackie confirmed this. Mark carried out an investigation, but deliberately avoided speaking to David. He then instructed Graham Millar to carry out a formal investigation. Graham, who is an arse licker, carried out a fake investigation, and avoided speaking with David too.
Mark wrote to me to say he was arranging a disciplinary hearing. I wrote back saying it was obvious that by failing to speak with David or any one of about a dozen witnesses who had heard the incident that he had already made his mind up to dismiss me. If it had been a genuine mistake by the investigators, they could still have spoken to David. It wasn't a genuine mistake.
I had been suspended from work and wasn't allowed to speak to colleagues. So Ruth phoned David, and David confirmed what had happened. He said that Jackie had been very angry and shouted at me. He also confirmed that he hadn't been interviewed for the disciplinary investigation. He was very clear on all of this, and he had no problem recalling it. You wouldn't expect him to have forgotten, because thankfully it's not every day that you get screamed at by a colleague sitting four feet from you, and we had talked about it afterwards, and again with Kathy present. David had also discussed it with Eric. And you wouldn't forget being interviewed as part of a disciplinary hearing in a hurry. Ruth asked him to confirm this in an email, and he said he would send it to me that same day.
By the following day, we still hadn't heard from him. I began to worry because I knew that he had let me down very badly before during the role evaluation process. I had included a statement in the role description about planning. As full time DBA, our roles differed in that I would receive the work and would plan and allocate it between us. I checked with David that it was okay to include it. He agreed enthusiastically, saying it's what happens so we have to include it. I checked with him again two more times, including just before our meeting with Kathy to verify our description. He assured me it was absolutely fine and told me not to worry. During the meeting, Kathy challenged David about it, and he immediately backed down and agreed to take it out; making me look foolish.
I feared that David was going to let me down again, so Ruth sent him an email confirming what he had said on the phone. He couldn't deny saying it because I had been listening in when he said it. The following day, David wrote to us, and my heart sank as I read his email. He was now claiming that when he spoke to Ruth, he was tired and stressed. He was retracting his statement, and was now giving a different, false version of what took place. In his new version, Jackie wasn't "very angry", she was just frustrated; she didn't shout, she just raised her voice. In addition, he could no longer remember if he was interviewed for the disciplinary investigation. He did this knowing that Mark Toole was trying to dismiss me unfairly, because Ruth had told him. He also did it knowing that about a dozen people had witnessed what really happened.
When David clicked his mouse to send that email to me, he knew that he was damaging me just as though he was pounding on an open head wound with a baseball bat.
By lying, David has put himself in a situation where his account of the incident makes no sense. He remembers clearly, almost word perfect, what I said to Kathy. He knew that I wasn't trying to get Jackie sacked. He can recall what I said, so is he now saying that I told Kathy that Jackie had spoken to me in a raised voice? Hardly likely! Or is he saying that I dishonestly told Kathy that Jackie had shouted at me again and slammed her pen on the desk, and that he didn't correct me? There is no doubt that we were talking about the same incident because he took part in the conversation.
He knew that Jackie was dishonestly trying to get me sacked, and he was happy to let that happen. David isn't a boy in short trousers. He's a 42 year old man.
The telephone conversation he had with Ruth lasted 11 minutes and 44 seconds, and they discussed nothing but that incident with Jackie and my general situation. He even expresses his fake concern for me.
Is he going to claim in court, that when he told Ruth that Jackie shouted at me, he was asleep for that 11 minute and 44 second period?
What a mess he has managed to get himself into. I hope his sister and parents come along to the hearing and watch him in action.
Peter Kemp, 10 Finlay Rise, Milngavie, Glasgow, G62 6EQ
Peter joined the university around the same time as me in 1997, but up until 2008, he would walk past me in the corridor without saying hello. He wasn't being rude; he just didn't know who I was, even though I held a senior position in his department. It's a pity it didn't stay that way because I found the interactions I had with him to be very frustrating. I could never work out for sure whether he was exceedingly stupid or if he was just pretending to be. Finally, I discovered it was all a pretence, and he's just a liar who, for whatever reason, supports bullies.
One of the things I complained to him about was Kathy McCabe criticising me in relation to matters where it would have been more appropriate to have thanked me. Peter ended up doing exactly the same thing in order to support Kathy and Eileen MacDonald. He also slagged off a well respected colleague who nobody, apart from Kathy, has ever said a bad word against.
When I first submitted a grievance against Kathy, Peter arranged mediaton for us. The mediation was almost completely useless because Kathy simply refused to participate properly. However there was one good thing to come from it; at least in theory. I had raised the matter of Kathy criticising me inappropriately, and I said that the cause of it was Kathy listening to gossip. She had even admitted to doing so when she criticised me about something she claimed she overheard in the corridor from nameless people. At mediation, Kathy agreed that, in future, when anyone complained to her about me, she was to get it in writing, then send it to me and ask for my response, and then hold a meeting with me and the complainant. For most managers, that would be the natural thing to do, but Kathy had to be persuaded by a mediator.
Just three weeks later, Kathy forwarded a complaint to me that she had received from Eileen MacDonald. At last it was confirmed that it had been Eileen who had been filling Kathy's head with nonsense about me. Although I spent huge amounts of time helping Eileen with her work, she had been jealous of me because I had been promoted. I was a man in a team dominated by women, and there was resentment that I was in a higher grade.
I was delighted to receive the complaint. Eileen was claiming that I was a poor teamworker, and that I was confrontational. However, the truth is that these were terms that described Eileen herself. At mediation, I had explained this to Kathy. I had also explained that Eileen had a very weak understanding of technical matters, and that she wasn't interested in improving. Kathy just denied this, claiming that Eileen had strong technical skills. That was either a lie, or it was based on work she thought Eileen had done, but which was actually done by me or someone else.
I replied to Kathy and included lots of evidence that it was Eileen who was the problem. As Database Administrator, I was responsible for database security, and for two years Eileen had been breeching security procedures and encouraging others to do so too. It's a sackable offense in most employers, but rather than report it, I tried to persuade Eileen not to do it. I had tried to find out from her why she was doing it. I had written to her a number of times explaining the correct procedure, and I said that if she felt there was ever a need to step outside the procedures, she should let me know, and I would work out what the problem was. I couldn't possibly have been more helpful, but the only reason she was doing it was to be bloody minded.
On this occasion, she had told one of her employees to breech security procedures and to log on to a database using an account that wasn't her own. I spotted this, and phoned her up to ask her to log off. Her employee agreed to log off, but Eileen told her to ignore me. After ten minutes I saw that she was still logged on, so I disconnected her. I then spent time helping them with the problem they were having, which was of Eileen's own making.
Realising that it was Eileen (Kathy's favourite) who was to blame, Kathy immediately cancelled the meeting. I submitted grievances againt Kathy and Eileen to Peter. Eileen found out and was worried about the grievance. Peter told her not to worry and that she was doing a good job. He completely ignored my grievance, and Mark Toole ignored it too. In fact, Mark criticised me for submitting it.
In her complaint, Eileen had asked for the database security procedures to be changed, and I had confirmed to Kathy that the problem wasn't with the procedures, but that Eileen, allegedly a Senior Programmer, needed to improve her skills. As a manager, Kathy should have tried to find out from Eileen what the real problem was and then spoken to me if she thought it was something I could help with. Instead, Kathy wrote to the entire team instructing us to debate whether or not the procedures should be changed to suit Eileen's preferred way of working. This was simply bullying by undermining me. I wrote to Peter Kemp to complain. To take the heat off Kathy, Peter said that it was he who had instructed Kathy to send that email. He went on to say that he would be asking for a report from the debate. He acknowledged the fact that I had to demonstrate to auditors that the correct security procedures were followed, but added that it was important that people are able to carry out their duties.
This was insulting, not just to me, but to the auditors too. Firstly he was implying that I was so stupid that I didn't know that people needed to be able to carry out their duties. He was also implying that I was so bad at administrating databases that I had set up a procedure that prevented employees from carrying out their duties. I wrote back to him confirming that everybody was indeed able to carry out their duties. It was an absurd situation where the Director of Information Services for a university was considering adding risk to data security for no other reason than to show support for Eileen MacDonald; a bully.
The team had the debate, and thankfully nobody wanted the procedures changed. During the meeting, I was explaining a technical matter when Eileen, who really needed to be listening, repeatedly heckled me with "You're inconsistent! You're inconsistent!" I asked her what was inconsistent, and she said that security was different on the XYZ database. She was referring to a different type of database for which I had no responsibility, and which was the responsibility of Paul, an employee that she managed. You would think that when you make a fool of yourself as often as Eileen, you would learn to keep your mouth shut.
Peter was interviewed as part of the grievance investigation. He gave his full support to Kathy and Eileen. He described me as someone who just doesn't understand that sometimes procedures have to be changed to allow people to carry out their duties. Of course, Peter had already learned from me that everybody could carry out their duties within existing procedures, but he would also have received his report confirming that everybody was able to carry out their duties. I don't think Peter will be happy until students are able to access the databases and amend their own grades.
Karen Stark was aware of all this as she was included in the correspondence. She carefully avoided raising this with Peter during the interview. A good question would have been "Please describe a situation whereby an employee could not carry out their duties within the agreed security procedures." Answer "Well there might be an occasion where a bloody minded woman could decide that it's just not her style, and that she is special and needs to be treated differently from everyone else. Obviously the security of the University of Stirling's data is nowhere near as important as that woman's feelings of superiority."
How stupid of me and the auditors not to have spotted that flaw in the security procedures!
I wonder if Peter ever told his wife, Joan what he really got up to at work.
He describes me as demanding that things are done my own way. Anybody attending meetings in our team would know that I was the one who would rarely even offer advice, because I knew it would be ignored. I was merely trying to ensure that the University's security procedures were followed correctly. That was my job. The person who was out of step with the university and the team by insisting she do things her own way was Eileen MacDonald.
Peter obsessively defends Kathy who obsessively defends Eileen. So the person who was proving to be the biggest risk to security was being put in charge of security; just like putting a lunatic in charge of the asylum. Meanwhile I'm criticised for merely carrying out my job with great patience. Peter says that I don't understand that the job has to be done, but the only person being prevented from doing their job was me.
Peter then claims that he didn't know why I was off sick for five weeks in 2008, despite the fact that I had written a lengthy letter to him explaining it was due to Kathy's behaviour, and when he received it he arranged mediation for me and Kathy.
Then he slags off a well respected colleague, and in stereotypical fashion he slags off people whom he sees as good programmers.