Your Office Coach: Avoiding angry co-worker exacerbates quarrel

 

My co-worker,

Angie,

sent me a seething email saying that I talk about teamwork, but
don’t act like a team player.
Q:

My co-worker, “Angie,” sent me a seething email saying that I talk about teamwork, but don’t act like a team player. This was a completely unexpected slam against me. I told our manager, and he spoke to Angie about it, but nothing else was done.

Now, whenever I encounter Angie anywhere in the building, she immediately turns around and walks the other way. This blatant disrespect bothers me, because I don’t deserve that kind of treatment.

My boss says “that’s just the way she is,” but Angie doesn’t seem to act like this with anyone else. She doesn’t have to like me, but we do have to work together, so I can’t take much more of this.

A:

Before I address Angie’s childish behavior, let me point out two missed opportunities in this scenario. First, after receiving the nasty email, you could have talked with Angie directly instead of going to your boss. Her gutless electronic attack may have started this grudge match, but your own cowardice only exacerbated the problem.

A direct conversation might have started like this: “Angie, I was very disturbed by your email and would really like to discuss whatever I have done to upset you. I do want to be a team player, so if I have unintentionally offended you or created a problem, I want to know about it.”

The second opportunity was missed by your manager, who should have brought the two of you together to resolve the underlying issue. Instead, he also took the coward’s way out.

Angie’s juvenile, passive-aggressive response is just perpetuating this pattern of avoidance. If she continues to sulk, ask your boss to facilitate a problem-solving discussion, because face-to-face communication is the only way to end this stalemate.

Q:

I seem to be experiencing an increase in responsibility without any change in title or pay. I work for a large health care company that is headquartered in another state. In addition to myself, our office includes a part-time assistant and a newly hired employee.

Although the new employee and I have the same title, our boss has made me the lead person in the office. He expects me to coordinate communications and ensure that everything runs smoothly. We will soon be hiring another person, making me responsible for three employees. This would seem to warrant a promotion, but I’m not sure how to broach the subject.

A:

In human resources terms, you are asking for your position to be reclassified, which seems like a reasonable request. In any large organization, however, reclassification to a management position is likely to be governed by specific policies and procedures.

When recruiting begins for the third employee, talk with your boss about the possibility of a promotion. If he turns you down, ask him to explain the requirements for becoming a supervisor. But above all, do not be shy about making this request. People who wait for management to “do the right thing” often wind up waiting a long, long time.

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