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(CINDERS McLEOD FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
(CINDERS McLEOD FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

NINE TO FIVE

I lost a contract after being badmouthed. What should I do? Add to ...

THE QUESTION

I’m working on contract for a company I left a few years ago. I left because my project manager made sure members of his family were working on a particular project, including his son, who treated everyone poorly. When I left, I told the vice-president why and I felt I had done adequate damage control.

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When my new program director hired me, he said he took a risk on me. Then they hired a new program director who was someone I worked with before, who had watched while I was bullied. At that job the bullying, combined with health and personal issues, left me stressed, and I resigned.

I have now worked under my current program director for more than two years without major incident. But recently I was told that my contract was not going to be renewed. He told me my previous project manager had told his vice-president that I should have never been hired. I was doing a fine job until my mother took ill and died recently.

As a contractor who has been slandered by someone who has lost me a contract renewal and damaged my reputation, how do I deal with this and recover?

THE FIRST ANSWER

Doug Nathanson

Chief human resources officer, Canadian Tire, Toronto

You need to look back at your prior experiences to examine why you have encountered difficult work situations. When stressful events occur, there will understandably be implications at work. However, it is incumbent on you to determine how best to minimize negative workplace repercussions. Many companies have resources to assist employees with difficult personal circumstances and I encourage you to contact these professionals. In addition, depending on the relationship you have with your colleagues, it can be appropriate to let them know about significant personal matters, while ensuring that any information shared is relevant, professional and accompanied by a commitment not to let your performance suffer.

If you believe that people are speaking negatively about you at work, you need to address the situation to minimize reputational harm. Raise the matter with your supervisor or human resources representative. If you believe that a negative perception remains after you leave a job, contact those who may serve as references to explain your point of view.

Finally, when interviewing for new positions, always put your best foot forward but make sure to address your past. Ensure you present lessons learned and changes made so that prospective employers recognize the value you will bring to their organizations.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Heather Faire

Human resources executive, Atlanta

You are describing a mix of unpleasant professional experiences with a company for whom you were contracted to provide services, as well as some difficult and sad personal experiences, all of which have occurred over the last few years.

It is possible to sustain your health without a job. It is far more difficult to sustain a job without your health. Addressing your personal family and health matters should be your priority. It might be useful to consult your doctor about your health concerns and potentially, a family counsellor or therapist to work through your bereavement and stress issues.

As for your professional experiences, I am inclined to join the chorus of those singing “move on.” A new company and challenge might provide you with a more positive professional experience, reduce your stress and allow you to productively address the more important personal issues that require your attention. If you are concerned about what a company might say about your performance, do not use it as a reference. Use other companies who will provide positive endorsement of your services.

Are you facing a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that minefield? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com. Confidentiality ensured. Weigh in with your view at tgam.ca/careers. Check out past columns here.

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