Colleagues make my life hell

Six months ago, I joined a company in my first generalist and managerial
role. I was delighted with the move, but the people I work with are making my
life hell through minor things such as not completing work I ask them to do for
days. I have told my manager but he says I am imagining it and my colleagues
have only good things to say about me. One person wanted this job and she is
being particularly difficult. She says her recent three weeks of sick leave was
due to stress I caused her. How should I handle things – I’m annoyed with the
woman and my boss, but what if all this is my fault?

Clive Sussams, recruitment consultant, Malpas Flexible Learning

This is quite a common problem for people when they are in the early stages
of a managerial or supervisory career.

You must have a serious discussion with your boss because it is vital for
your credibility and performance that you receive his full support. It is
essential this is done quickly before the situation deteriorates further. Your
boss must have been involved with your own recruitment to the company and,
therefore, should be seen to support you in front of subordinate staff in the

I would also suggest that as part of this process of establishing your
credibility, a meeting should take place with all staff affected by your role
and a separate meeting with the person who has had the recent sickness absence.
Once problems have been aired, particularly in close knit teams they are often
resolved immediately, with future goals set to create harmony in the workplace.

Allison Sheard, consultant, Chiumento

This is a situation that appears to have escalated and what is needed to
bring it back to a more manageable position is some straight, emotion-free

In order to move forward you need to decide how you want the situation to
change and how you want your team to operate. One way of doing this is to have
a meeting with your whole department to jointly develop a future strategy.
However, this process has to be blame-free and truly two-way if it is to work,
so it will involve lots of active listening and positive feedback on your

You might also consider other ways of breaking down the barriers by
arranging a social activity that gives you the opportunity to get to know your
team better.

The situation with the person who is suffering from stress is particularly
delicate and needs to be handled sensitively. It is important to remain
supportive. Listening in a non-judgmental way will help you gain an
understanding of what you can do to help.

Your boss may not know what advice to give, so it is worth developing your
own action plan and getting his opinion on what you are proposing. He may find
it easier to help if he can see you taking some positive action to change
things. It is also important to explain how you need his support to make these
things happen. Show him that you are open to feedback from him, as you are new
to the role and want to learn how to do things better. You might discuss the
possibility of getting specific training in motivation or performance
management, for instance.

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