Stay professional in face of upsetting workplace change
Q. Two days ago, I received an email from my manager saying that “Jenny,” one of my co-workers, will now be reviewing everything I do. I am extremely unhappy about this change, which came as a complete surprise. In fact, I was so angry that I almost started to cry.
Our boss loves Jenny and always agrees with her opinions. Even though Jenny and I have the same job title, my boss treats Jenny like her personal assistant. I actually do more work than Jenny, but that doesn’t seem to matter.
I am extremely productive and conscientious, so being monitored by a co-worker feels humiliating. I can only assume that Jenny has been complaining about me in order to improve her own position. What can I do about this?
A. Your boss must have missed the management lesson on communication, because sending this pronouncement via email was absolutely inexcusable. Bad news should always be delivered personally, and any halfway intelligent manager would realize that, from your perspective, this is a most unwelcome change.
Unfortunately, your cowardly boss has provided you with a conclusion, but no explanation. Therefore, the first order of business is to find out why this decision was made. Despite having a natural desire to stomp your feet and scream favoritism, you must control your emotions and make this inquiry in a calm, professional manner.
For example: “I wanted to ask you about the new process for reviewing my work. I can certainly run my reports by Jenny if you wish, but I was curious about the reason for the change. Are there some areas where I need to improve?”
Once you understand your manager’s motivation, you can decide on the appropriate response. If she expresses concerns about your job performance, then you obviously need to address them. If she is delegating this task to lessen her workload, perhaps you can suggest some alternate strategies.
But if her objective is to prepare Jenny for promotion, you might as well just smile and say OK. After that, you can privately assess how this development may affect your own career decisions.
Q. I don’t understand why my co-worker never greets me at the beginning of the day. She walks right by my desk without saying “Good morning” or “How are you?” Other people have also expressed concern about this behavior. What’s your opinion?
A. People who are naturally sociable often find it puzzling when others are not. However, I can assure you that many perfectly normal folks don’t make a habit of offering morning greetings to their colleagues. While that might be the friendly thing to do, it’s simply not part of their personality.
If your reserved co-worker is otherwise pleasant and helpful, accept the fact that “good morning” is not in her vocabulary and just continue working when she passes by. Since she apparently acts the same towards everyone, her indifference is clearly not directed at you. She may simply have other things on her mind.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”