There are rumours at work that my arch enemy is going to join my project team. My immediate bosses have not said anything to me yet, so I am hoping for the best. I am putting my faith in the fact that my bosses cannot be so oblivious.
I have had problems with this lady for many, many years. I was her direct supervisor when she first joined the company, and immediately there were problems. The conflicts became serious enough for my direct supervisor to step in and remove her from my mentorship. For the few years after that, although she reported directly to my supervisor, we still had to work together on the projects. And the conflicts didn’t stop.
For a long time, I was convinced that at least half of the responsibility of the conflicts laid with me. At least, that was what my supervisor felt. A single hand cannot clap on its own. So I tried my best to make up with her, and carry on in at least a civil manner. There were times when things seemed to be working, and then stuff happened and we were back to square one.
I was miserable in those days. Technically, I was the more senior member in the project team, and had authority over the way certain things were done. She continually flouted that authority and I had to appeal to my supervisor continually to keep her down. I would sometimes find obvious mistakes in her work and any attempt to inform her of them would be taken as a personal attack. At the end of it all, I was channeling all correspondences to her through my supervisor so that the comments on her work wouldn’t seem to come from me and cause more problems. And I hated that. I hated that her sensitivity put my supervisor in this facilitating position, and made it look as if I couldn’t manage my team.
I had a number of other junior engineers working under me, all who had reasonably close working relationships with me. She took on a “with me or against me” mindset, and included them in her vendetta, even though they had never even said a single word against her, simply due to the fact that she saw them aligned with me. She would continually try and attack their work in front of the top bosses, and find any way she could to discredit them, and indirectly me, as their supervisor. I felt so bad for my juniors, that I had somehow embroiled them unwittingly in this conflict that was originally none of their business.
Anyone ever “seen red”? I did. A lot of times during that period. Some of her emails made me so angry, I could feel the pressure in my head building up and literally saw red mists floating in front of my eyes. Sometimes, I thought I was going to get a stroke right there and then. I was mentally exhausted trying to make things work between us, and in the meantime, trying to protect my junior guys from any fallout. And worried how my health would be impacted.
I thought about quitting just to get away from her, but my pride didn’t allow it. It felt like a statement of defeat and an acknowledgement of fault.
At this point, one of the senior guys from another team resigned, and my bosses decided that I should take his place. That got me away from her for good. I have never said a word to her since, nor do we even acknowledge each other’s presence in the office. I was done with trying to correct something that is not all my fault to begin with.
In the meantime, the remaining engineers in the team all got a chance to experience firsthand what I had gone through, and worse. She would refuse to give proper instructions and solutions, and the engineers got the sharp edge of her tongue even when they managed to solve problems on their own, just because the instruction didn’t come from her. She would denigrate them in front of people from other departments, and even our external vendors. She would go to the top bosses when her other peers received the same promotions as she did, and tell the bosses she thought these people did not deserve them. She got into all sorts of fights with people from other departments, who didn’t need to be as tolerant as I did, and my top bosses had to clean up the shit. She backstabbed my ex-supervisor, whom she was reporting to directly by this time.
The truth was, I felt vindicated by all the things that these other people went through. For a long time, various people, including myself, felt that I had half the blame to take. However, it was now happening to other people, who never did anything to her in the first place. Now, people were coming up to me and saying “Now I know how you felt.”
To make a long story short, a number of resignations happened in her team, and almost all cited her as the reason for resignation. The bosses persuaded a number to stay and transferred them over to me.
So I hope the rumours are just that, rumours. The bosses should know better than to risk another wave of resignations. I will be the first one out of here if it comes to that.