Navigating the Workplace
You can’t always pick the people you work with, just like you can’t pick your family members. That’s why it is critical you know how to navigate the workplace and figure out how to handle difficult employees. It happens to everyone, you know the scenario: you go to work every day and enjoy 99% of the people around you but you come across that 1 person that rubs you the wrong way and you can’t seem to get along with them.
It’s quite possible you have every reason not to like this employee. For the sake of this article, let’s call this difficult employee “Suzy!” Typically, it’s a personality conflict that you make every effort to resolve or at least manage. This might not even be your problem but Suzy is difficult, unreasonable, and rude. Even if you continue to be professional and handle Suzy in a skilled manner, your curtesy is not being reciprocated. You may be thinking of quitting your job because you just can’t deal with Suzy any longer. If that is the case, remember there is a Suzy everywhere you go.
Throughout my entire career, I’ve had a Suzy in each place I have worked. I recall when I was fairly new to the workforce and I came in contact with my first Suzy. “Suzy” happened to be my direct boss. She was new to the organization and a very unpleasant person to work with. Every day I would go to work ready for her attitude. Instead of figuring out a way to work with her, I allowed her approach to affect me. I didn’t say anything to her or to anyone else, but I did allow her cunning behavior get the best of me. Even though I was identified as “High Potential” and climbing the corporate ladder, once Suzy was hired I was miserable.
I decided I had no other choice but to leave because I felt I could no longer work with this person. I left a job that I loved, a corporate setting that had all the bells and whistles, and a short commute to work. I left because of just 1 person! It turned out Suzy was terminated from her position within 6 months after I resigned. I look back on that decision and wonder… What If?
That was definitely a pivotal point in my career and chances are, if I would have stayed, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today. I am extremely thankful for that move but what I did learn is I have now come face to face with many Suzys over the course of my career. You can’t run every time you work with someone that you don’t like. You need to figure out how to handle this person in a professional manner.
You can’t control the way they handle themselves but you can control how you react to their behavior. Remember, you can always speak with your supervisor about the situation. If your supervisor happens to be the case in point, like my scenario, contact your HR representative. At the very least, you need to walk through the situation with someone and get some advice before you resign. Companies don’t want to lose good people and certainly not over a personality conflict.
If you are a supervisor and notice one of your employees being bullish in the workplace and being unprofessional, it is your responsibility to react. As a manager, you create the environment. If you ignore or don’t address nasty behavior, it will only get worse. That is a promise!
Be part of the solution and not the problem. Be respectful and considerate with your co-workers. It’s not if, but when, you come in contact with “Suzy” find a way to control the situation so you don’t make any rash decisions and it doesn’t impact your productivity and mood. The majority of us spend a tremendous amount of time at work, therefore we all have a responsibility to keep a harmonious environment.