Q. I work with an older woman who is rude and overbearing. “Beverly” seems to get along with everyone else, but with me she is always very distant. Even though I try to be courteous and respectful, she seldom speaks and doesn’t even say good morning.
The two of us oversee the breakfast buffet at a major hotel chain, so I spend several hours with Beverly every day. Although she isn’t my supervisor, she tells me what to do and checks my work when I’m finished. Some co-workers have said that she criticizes my work habits.
I complained to our boss about Beverly, then requested a formal meeting with human resources to document her behavior. However, I don’t believe any action was ever taken. I’m sure the managers view this as a “cat fight” and prefer not to get involved. Do you have any advice?
A. I think you have become obsessed with your cranky co-worker. Although Beverly certainly sounds irritating, she apparently isn’t interfering with your ability to do your job. So instead of allowing her to get under your skin, you should face reality and modify your attitude accordingly.
You will never change Beverly’s personality, so you may as well stop trying. Regardless of the source of her antipathy, your multiple complaints to management have undoubtedly made it worse. Since this dispute is basically a personality conflict, continuing to involve the higher-ups will only cause them to conclude that you are part of the problem.
After putting those facts together, you will hopefully see that the wisest course of action is to concentrate on your work and remain courteous, regardless of how Beverly acts. Once you stop letting her push your emotional buttons, you will be more in control of the situation.
Q. One of my employees is always late with her projects. “Emily” is easily distracted and often spends time socializing with co-workers. I mentioned that setting daily objectives might help her stay on track, but I don’t believe she has done this. To make matters worse, Emily’s work contains a lot of errors. How can I fix this without becoming a micromanager?
A. You needn’t worry about becoming a micromanager, because right now you aren’t managing at all. Emily routinely turns in work that is unacceptable and behind schedule, yet you allow her to goof off at will. You suggest creating interim deadlines, but do nothing to make them mandatory.
Actually, a dose of micromanagement is exactly what Emily needs, so you must put on your manager hat and take charge of this situation.
For example: “Emily, we need to have a serious talk about your job performance. Your projects are consistently late and you continue making frequent errors. From now on, I expect you to focus on work and save socializing for your lunch break. You must start setting daily objectives, and we will meet regularly to review your progress.”
If Emily shapes up, you can gradually restore her independence. But if she continues to slack off, you may want to consider removing her from this position.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”