I’m excited to look forward, not back

They say if it’s too good to be true it usually is… but finally in this last month or so, after a long long time trying to find my feet with my career… after feeling like I’ve been standing on slippery sand for far too long…

… I’ve finally landed solidly in a great role in a great team, in what seems so far, as a great organisation. I’m so pleased.

I know this blog is about my training, but it’s also about me and my life, so if you don’t want to read on, don’t. 🙂

Oh, and it’s a long one – about a big part of my life – my career.

Everything I’ve learned in the last few weeks since starting my new role in a fresh new organisation has been so very positive and it’s what an employer should be. I’m so pleased, after so many years of uncertainty.

After all that I’ve been through in my career in the last 4 years:.. this new role seems almost too good to be true – but it’s happening and it’s real. It’s honestly like night and day.

But in fact, perhaps this new role and team is so good as a result of how bad and how normal bad had got for me at work. But not any longer, I’m relieved to be free from the bad, and into a new good.

I’m so looking forward to getting stuck in and settled in my new role, and I sort of can’t believe that is as good as it will be. But why shouldn’t it be? It’s what good organisations do – they look after their employees and they listen to them. Or at least they should.

Now I’ve not really written much about this as I was in the thick of it… but for the last 4 years I’ve really struggled at the BBC… and it’s sadly left me feeling crushed and broken. It’s now my time to heal, and to get me back.

But for the last 4 years I’ve been unable to be public about it, and I’ll probably need to be careful about how much I share…

The truth is that sh!t happened – some through simple circumstance, but most through failings and lack of process and communication … it wasn’t good.

… I spoke up through standard processes about what I saw as wrong, repeatedly over the course of about 18 months, and nothing came of it.

It was covered up repeatedly, and swept under the carpet. They heard me, but didn’t listen, and didn’t act. They didn’t want to know, and didn’t learn any lessons from any of it. They also didn’t address or deal with any of the poor conduct and failings I’d experienced.

I’ve left now, but still for others, mistakes are happening, and people are being impacted greatly. In my experience and what I’ve heard from quite a few others, they aren’t getting the basics right and processes and policies don’t work.

I know of many who have had the rough edge of the BBC … mostly women, but some men too… and fortunately I’ve also seen some / many escape to go onto better pastures. But still in 2021 the bad is still happening to many, and it’s not good. 😦

For me, in 2018 after working at the BBC for about 10 years, I was at the top of my game, and I was lucky enough to go on attachment and had a brilliant time in News…

… I really had a great time, met and worked with some brilliant people and I know I made a difference. It was one of the best places I’ve ever worked, more than likely, down to the people (and in my opinion, the leadership there too). I learned a lot and was proudly enabled to blossom.

Before I went away on attachment (in 2017) you could tell that things were changing, but nothing had really been communicated. So before I went on attachment I asked the manager there to confirm that there would be a role waiting for me on my return (as I wasn’t being backfilled). I even got it in writing, but not that it went for anything, my role disappeared from under me when I was away.

Then when I was on attachment, nothing was really communicated to me about any changes, particularly about my role, who my manager would be and how changes would impact my role. Yet others and the parts of the business it affected were communicate to, when I wasn’t.

Then when the attachment was over, I reverted back and my previous role had gone. Without any communication, at least 80% of my duties were moved into the business, and my role was no longer there.

And my role had previously been mapped in 2017, but mapped without adequate communication, and my role didn’t change until I returned in 2019. But it was all done badly, and unfairly compared to others. But by then it seems it was too late to challenge it.

It was all so wrong and so very very messy. And instead of anyone helping me and the predicament I’d found myself in, instead the failings were defended and covered up. Sometimes with lies, in order to make me look bad. It was hellish.

But I raised it all, that my role had fundamentally changed, to be told it had simply ‘evolved’ and it was still my time, but it clearly wasn’t. And they said, if I didn’t want do the new role I could ‘get another role’. And if I didn’t do the role I’d ‘be performance managed’.

I also raised the mapping, some unfairness compared to other colleagues in my team, and failings of communication by management, and eventually management conduct. I needed to speak up for myself as to what had gone wrong. But it didn’t work, and as per process I then needed to take it to the formal level.

The informal process was handled unbelievably badly. It was all handled so unprofessionally and ineptly, it was hard to believe. I was offered to have someone in to support me, then that offer was rescinded with 2 days notice.

She said repeatedly that she wouldn’t put it in writing, when my query had been in writing, but then after I pushed and pushed I got it in writing. I was openly accused of being defensive and presumptuous, when all I was doing was speaking up, and being professional in trying to raise an issue of concern and requesting a fair outcome.

Notes taken by a manager for one meeting were inaccurate and out of context, then the notes for the next meeting were promised but never materialised. I was interrupted repeatedly in one meeting, and eventually the manager who had been dealing with it stopped cooperating and instead referred me up another level – so all in all it took about 13 weeks, with limited contact.

Then the outcome from the first manager was contradictory to the next manager up, and it was all so wrong. It was ridiculous.

Then whilst I was waiting for any answer from management, about 12 weeks later, the previously threatened performance management before was attempted without any prior feedback or valid examples, then not longer after, it was withdrawn.

I felt attacked and victimised, and did well to hang on. In a toxic tram environment, escape I eventually did, by fortunately securing a much more junior role out of that team, but I was still going through the process of speaking up. And it took far far too long. Long enough, and bad enough to put anyone off.

The way it was all handled by two managers was unbelievable. They failed to communicate when they should have done, then they covered up their failings and acted really unprofessionally.

Then I wasn’t supported when I needed it most, deprive speaking openly about how I was. I spoke up about the initial failings, and the previous failings in relation to my role, but it didn’t work.

Nothing worked. I was left flailing trying to save my career somehow, whilst I saw others sorted… with consultation and redeployment or redundancy or other options.

Then the recruitment processes and internal competition and not being ‘at risk’ impacted me, where I allied for 12 internal roles, interviewed for 9… struggled to get anywhere. I wasn’t at risk, but others ink my tram had been afforded that option, to be put at risk and redeployed or able to take redundancy.

When I realised what was happening to me and my role, I raised it and tried to get this option too, but it was blocked and I was told to get on with my job, or leave, or be manger.

I wasn’t in a union, but quietly spoke with some people I know who work in HR about everything that had happened, and they explained the process of speaking up. About going through standard processes to get a fix. And it all seemed straight forward, and something I could handle. Handle it I did, right to the end, but the process didn’t work and I ended up nearly broken as a result of it.

But I was crushed, my character drained of any positivity, my sleep, health and relationships were adversely affected. Drained from it all, I changed as a person. I still am, but I’m trying to get myself back to who I used to be.

I took up several rounds of counselling through EAP, and got support from many. And I got through it, with resilience and determination. (Sometimes I reminded myself of my Mum and her doggedness, to not let go of something she saw as important).

My resilience took me through it when others might have given up. I needed to speak up for me, and for others.

I ended up taking it all the way, informal, formal, case review, which agreed it hadn’t been dealt with properly initially, but then it said it had been in the end. Cover up after cover up. An internal team investigating an internal process.

I ended up speaking up repeatedly, about 8 times, but put simply I wasn’t able to prove my case, and it was eventually all turned against me too. I had so much evidence, so much documentation. Yet some of my evidence wasn’t allowed, parts were over simplified and other parts weren’t addressed.

And the time it took was unbearable – 12 months from start to finish / informal / formal process. Then another 6 months of providing feedback, for absolutely nothing. 18 months of hell, for nothing. All that evidence, time, effort, stress and concern – for nothing.

I was so disappointed in an organisation I used to believe in. I never thought I’d need to go through something like this, and I wished I didn’t have to.

Remembering it all started in 2017 when things started to change, but the change wasn’t communicated… it took years and lots of tenacity and a strong character, but throughout that time my career fizzled out… with a changing business and limited internal opportunities. I ended up in a role where I eventually wasn’t needed.

Gratefully, I was set free, and in January I realised I needed to let go and move on. My loyalty finally went, and I looked elsewhere for a company that would hopefully snap me and my skills and experience up.

Securing this new role in what seems like a great organisation, with good policies and processes, will be the making of me.

It might sound silly, but I nearly cried with relief at just how good their policies are – with employee wellbeing at the forefront, and fairness and respect and learnings right up there too. And now I’m trusted to be at my best again. It’s so good.

But still, in the back of my mind is that it’s been really hard over the last 4 years, see my BBC career fall down a hole, and not be able to do anything about it.

In January this year, the top BBC boss was on an internal comms call and said he was welcome to feedback and that it wasn’t acceptable for talented people to leave when they hadn’t been supported. I thought – that’s me! I thought maybe I should write to him – what did I have to lose?

He said he was here to ‘reform the BBC’ after all. Maybe this could help. Maybe not. In my experience, it’s certainly not the inclusive and diverse place it aims to be.

So I eventually wrote to him and top HR person, and provided feedback, but still I doubt anything has been done. I doubt it ever will, but perhaps I’ll be pleasantly surprised. It seems to me that they talk the talk, but don’t do anything with the feedback they get. The place is too far gone to be fixed.

Then the Martin Bashir thing happened in May, and they said they wanted to learn lessons and the organisation is different than it was 30 years ago. Mmmm. I’m pretty sure I’ll never be going back there, that’s for sure.

I spoke up for me, but also to hopefully improve things for the future and for others.

Perhaps it all became too complex, but it should have been able to have been dealt with, and instead I left a monster of an organisation who I feel didn’t listen, help or want to learn from what happened. I used to be loyal, but that’s all gone now. Where was the loyalty to me?

I didn’t get an exit interview, and I was lucky to eventually get what I did. With paperwork and processes failing right up to the end. Sadly it all became expected, and not one f%ck up was a surprise. An organisation that’s one big ship I’m glad to have been able to disembark from.

They said they’ll take onboard the feedback, and maybe something will be done, but it’s too late for me. And if I’m honest I doubt anything will happen. It’s definitely time to move on, and leave all of that in the past.

What I have done is I’ve learned a lot by speaking up, and I’ve realised how resilient and tenacious I can be. And I know I can take the experience forward into my new role – as an HR partner making sure that processes and policies are delivered fairly for all. And that people are listened to, supported and helped to achieve their best.

The BBC has lost me and my skills, experience, brightness and smile. But it’s their loss and my new employers gain. It’s so good to be able to start afresh in a new, fresh and positive organisation and team.

So now I have this amazing opportunity, to do my best, in a great organisation and I can’t wait to get started. I almost cried (with happiness) the other day at how great it’s going to be. Or maybe that was with sadness that the BBC is the polar opposite of this new organisation.

And I did learn a lot at the BBC, skills and experience to help me to secure this role, for sure. But isn’t it funny after all of those internal BBC job applications, 12 in 3 years, 9 interviews… I secure the first external role I go for? Clearly someone outside can see what I’ll bring and they snapped me up in a minute.

They say what’s for you won’t go by you, and it’ll all come right in the end. There were times since 2017 where I wondered when the hell it would come right… and I’m pleased to say it finally has, but I needed to do something drastic to make it happen.

Sometimes we have to make massive changes to get the outcome we’re after. And sometimes we have to let go of things which we are so loyal to, to allow us to really shine.

I remember a colleague being really honest with with me and saying to me in 2019, that I needed to leave the BBC. That it was my best option.

I chose to speak up instead, to speak up against failings, failings which were eventually covered up, and will likely be forgotten. I thought speaking up would work, but it didn’t. Processes didn’t enable it to work. I had no chance.

Then in November 2020, a good friend from outside of the BBC frankly suggested perhaps it was time to go, as the place and what I was going through was making me ill. That I hadn’t spoken positively about it, on and off, for about 4 years. Not me at all. So negative and stuck. That chat really helped me to realise that I needed to let go instead of trying to so desperately hang on to nothing.

I usually thrive in my work, with enthusiasm and positivity. People in radio knew me as Super Lorn with my can do attitude and in news they all commented on my bright smile and enthusiasm and character. But it all went when the BBC removed my role, and didn’t tell me, then didn’t act or help me when I raised it (and everything else) as an issue.

I sort of wish I’d just left then (in 2019), but then this new role outside wouldn’t have been there, and I wouldn’t have travelled on the journey I have to get to where I am.

At times it was very tough, but I’m over the mountain and running along the flat or downhill now. I wasn’t ready in 2019, but I was in 2021, for sure.

I chose to hang on, wait for fate to take its course, for the BBC to eventually decide to let me go. A whole two years after I highlighted the issues and asked to be put at risk and be risky made redundant. Now it couldn’t have worked out any better for me; but it did take a long long time. Far far too long, and all the wrong doing was successfully covered up.

But now that I’m on a new course in a great new role, team and organisation, I need to forget it all – the poor processes, practices and conduct. I can take what happened and learn from it all – knowing that they’re not what should happen to employees.

I’ve been there, spoken up, followed up, waiting patiently, with outcomes and processes that took far too long and weren’t fair or impartial. I wouldn’t recommend anyone ever tries it at the BBC – I doubt it will work out for you – but it might just break you.

Anyway, I’m on a new positive route in my career (and life) now, and I’ll look forward, I won’t look back. I’m very excited for what the next few months and years will bring.

Like I said above maybe the new place and role isn’t too good to be true, maybe the last place I was in was so bad, that this now feels like heaven. But I was so institutionalised, I couldn’t let myself see it.

Roll on the next few years, I have a feeling I’m going to fly, and shine very brightly. I’m so bl88dy excited!!

Super Lorn, Happy Lorn, whatever you want to call me. I’m back and I can’t wait to do my thing, and make a difference like I used to be able to. I’m back. And most definitely looking forward and not back!

Ps: they’ve already realised I’m and Excel and PowerPoint whizz. Wait til they find out the rest, eh!? 😉

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