You might have read my many posts about my horrific experience working in a sales cult, if you haven’t you might need to check them out for context about this post. Essentially it was a very negative experience, although I learnt a lot, the consistent sexual harassment, bullying, mind games and general stress wasn’t worth it. So this post is dedicated to the manager I had at the time, I won’t name him as I don’t want to get sued, but I believe this is something that needs to be written about somewhere online because he was without a doubt the worst manager I’ve ever worked under.
So it didn’t start off bad, it never does otherwise you wouldn’t stay in the job. He was charming and very skilled at the art of the ‘impact’, which is the phrase used for inspirational talks as a lot of the higher ups are basically taught a basic structure on how to motivate their team. That’s the thing about sales, everythings a script, nothings real and I was very naive. When you take that much desperation and a need to be noticed you can see that I was easily susceptible to a lot – hindsight is 20/20 though.
I won’t say that I was the only one who had to deal with this manager, by the end of my time there he had basically turned 80% of the office against him. There’s only so much screaming and ritual degradation you can do to your team until they decide that enough is enough and start to despise your very existence. It wasn’t just a classic ‘I hate my boss’ kind of hatred, the level of hatred was pure.
So, for the first 7 weeks of the role I quite enjoyed it, I felt like I was in a healthy and productive working environment and I was also doing well. It might have taken me a while to learn how to sell, but everyone pretends to be super encouraging when you’re learning, it’s once you’ve gained the ability that their true colours start to come out. In order to get promoted to a team leader role you have to achieve a certain amount of sales in the week, and afterwards you’re expected to take on more responsibility like training and taking interviews without any extra pay as the role was completely commission based. With the increase of responsibility came more meetings, and it was in the leaders meetings that our managers true colours came across.
Let’s start with the ritual humiliation, because let’s face it that is probably one of the most fucked up things he did. So at the end of the day we would go over everyones sales, and if you did well you were praised, but if you didn’t do well then you would get called every bad name under the book. He’d call us shit, negs, horrible at our jobs, unmotivated and would generally find ways to push us to our limits. There would be times where he’d shout at everyone, go on a long speech and talk about how shit we all were and then find his targets. He’d insult everything about his targets and his lackeys would laugh alongside him, which then promoted an atmosphere of ‘us vs them’.
For the girls he’d talk about how emotional we were and how women find it harder to make it because we’re different. We can’t handle certain pressures and we’d have to work a lot harder to get any recognition. He’d also personally try to pressure us to look like a secretary from a 1970’s male fantasy, so heels, hair done up, lipstick and cleavage – he wanted it all. He’d also want the girls who wore hijab to take it off, saying that they wouldn’t make it whilst wearing it. He’d do this all publicly and privately.
During his rants he’d also pressure us all to spend more time with him and his tailor made crew, and less time with people who didn’t fit his mould of what his team should be. He would publicly denounce the ‘negs’ and try to create an environment that wouldn’t allow them to build bonds – he’d even try to prevent them from talking to people, especially new people. This meant that those people who were part of his crew who wanted to maintain a friendship would have to do it behind his back, which honestly is just weird now looking back at it.
He’d sometimes play little games with all of us, make us either turn around or close our eyes. As our vision was obscured he’d say that he would tap the shoulder of the person that he was going to fire, he would take his time walking around all of us and this was all to make us nervous and more determined to stay in the role – to spite him. He would also have a monthly rant which ended in ‘if anyone wants to quit, quit now and be a neg’. He would always try to end each night of tyranny with an impact, so it would be a speech about how he can’t wait to hang out with all of us once we made it to management, or some materialist fantasy that he had somehow achieved.
The way our interview process worked was that the candidate would have a first round of interview with the manager himself, and then he would hand select those that would go on to the observation day, and by hand select I mean accept anyone. The candidates he deemed good would go to his favourites and everyone else would go to his unmentionables. At one point he even made a point of accepting someone with severe special needs, who was vulnerable and he would poke fun at them behind their backs and in front of everyone.
The morning training session was called atmosphere and at one point he even made a joke about this person in front of everyone and expected us all to laugh. He made horrific jokes and turned them into a joke, and that was all in the name of creating an impact. He also made jokes about every marginalised person that existed, from those in the LGBT community to those with special needs, no one was safe from his wrath and honestly the fact that he was able to say it without any ramifications was truly disgusting.
His sexual harassment history is also ridiculous. In my case it went from harmless flirtation to downright bullying me openly because he thought I was with someone who didn’t want me to be with – yes you read that right. It went from embarrassing me, to hating me, and to top it off one of his favourited jumped on that bandwagon. The hurt pride of rejected men was honestly something that turned me into a target, his friend, who was also on the team was one of the biggest instigators of turning people against me – why you might ask, because I didn’t fuck him.
I won’t go into that too much because that’s for another coming blog post but honestly the catalyst of it all was rejection..
So the harassment, to begin with their were only three women in the office (including me), but at one point more joined, and when they joined the office turned into something that we didn’t recognise. This also came alongside the manager encouraging people to live with him in his “penthouse” which was just a small two bedroom flat that he crammed about 8 people in.
Thanks to the fact that he’d somehow convinced people to live with him, including the new women – who were attractive and therefore became targets of his affection. One slept with him, I’m assuming everything was consensual to begin with because they seemed happy and she played along with it all, but things became toxic fast. He used their intimacy to control her, who she hung around with and before she quit she honestly looked scared of him. I can’t say a lot about what happened behind the scenes, but the things I heard were fucked up, and we could see there was an obvious abuse of power happening.
He’d also make rude comments about women’s bodies, comment on their features even if they were in the room, he would perv and honestly behave like an animal because he had power. He promoted hostility, he promoted sexual harassment, he promoted divides and then wondered why everyone hated him so much. The only reason he was able to get away with all of this was because there was no HR and the people higher up than him were the same and they trained him to be the way he was.
He also withheld people’s payments – it’s hard enough to work on commission, but holding people’s payments was probably what caused people to actually quit. He would say that the low pay was due to cancellation fees but would never show the evidence, there were no KPI’s, no reports and honestly it was suspicious that the people on his shit list were making the lease money when the people he loved where known to lie about their sales. Yes guys we actually went that far to find out what was going on.
Honestly, never let someone do this to you. I understand a job is a job, but no job is worth this. Don’t stand to be overworked, harassed, violated or humiliated because the fear is what keeps them thriving. People are afraid to fail and that’s what they prey on. This manager was one of the worst in our city when it came to mistreatment which is saying something when you consider these sales cults run multiple offices in one building with no HR department in sight…