Can’t Get Ahead

Postby Ali Baby » Tue Oct 23, 2018 3:30 pm

Hi All, I’m hoping that some of you will b able to give me some advice on how to deal with this problem. Apologies if this is a long post.

So, I have been working with people for my entire career. I do many different things, and I’ve worked in many different places. I grew up never being allowed to stand up for myself, and was bullied both inside and outside my home. I got into an abusive relationship as a young adult, that damaged my confidence further. So sometimes being assertive is difficult for me, even though I escaped that relationship and I have a wonderful partner who builds me up and gives me strength.

Anyway, so I’ve been bullied at work in the past and I’ve often been over powered by colleagues who seem to take over everything I try to do, I’ve been passed over for promotions I’ve deserved because my face doesn’t fit. More recently, someone hit up in management has been fighting my corner (I don’t know who) and during a big restructure I was given a mini promotion and a huge wage rise. So I have been feeling pretty good about myself. I’ve been moved to a new team, in a new building and I thought I was finally going to be free to do my job without interferences,. Yet there is a spanner in the works.

I’ve been teamed up with a woman who I have known in the past. She has a very strong personality and in the few weeks we’ve been in the ne team, she has slowly started to try to take over the things I am doing. For example, someone wanted to volunteer within our ogoranisafion. The person she initially contacted passed her over to me, and I met with her yesterday. I introduced her to my colleague, and all of a sudden my colleague is taking over the whole thing. Getting criminal records checks done, talking her through the process etc. This is just one example but the story is always the same.

In our new team, we are all being expect d to create our own work and be productive. I am trying really hard and coming up with really good ideas, but this colleague of mine just comes in and seems to commandeer whatever I am doing. She’s not doing these things in such an obvious way that I could just have it out with her, and to be honest, I don’t think I have it in me to be what way with someone anyway. I’m not confrontational or even assertive by nature, I find it difficult to deal with I’ll feeling or disagreements.

I really want to prove myself to my new management, and I was looking forward to taking this volunteer under my wing but every time she comes in, this colleague pounces on her when it’s really my task to work with her. It would look really unprofessional for me to tell her to go away in front of the lady, so I need to be polite.

Is there any way of giving her the hint that I don’t want or need her to get involved? Everyone else is just getting on with their own stuff, which is what we all should be doing. There is a lot of loafing around with some people, this colleague included, because we haven’t had a chance to set a lot of our work up yet, so I guess she is just trying to keep busy.

I know this all probably sounds very petty, but I’ve been in this situation many times and I want to nip this in the bud before it becomes a bigger issue. It feels like people don’t think I’m capable of doing things independently, yet on the other hand I know it’s probably more to do with the fact they want a piece of the action because I am really good at what I do. There is also probably an element of them taking advantage because they know how gentle I am and I’m unlikely to put up a big fight against them. I don’t want to have to fight for the work I am setting up.

Any words of wisdom anyone could offer would be greatly appreciated.
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Oct 24, 2018 7:03 am

The nature of the problem is not clear.

What formal authority do you have over your colleague or are you equals? What formal authority do you or your colleague have over a volunteer? It seems like the only claim you have is that this volunteer was introduced to you first.

It seems more an issue of trying to make an informal claim to a volunteer. If your more assertive colleague is taking informal charge of the volunteer, that is a discussion between you and your colleague, nothing more. If you are not yet assertive enough to have that discussion, then you are currently in the wrong role or working on the wrong goals in the organization, i.e. you are not yet capable of first level leadership. That doesn’t mean you are not awesome at other specific roles, but leadership is not yet there.

That said, volunteers and part time staff are typically used to help educate and groom front line supervisors/leaders. In that sense, the conversation you need to have with your colleague is part of the process of learning how to lead. It is part of learning how to be more assertive. If that is not what you want...if you don’t ever wish to be a front line supervisor, if that is not a good fit for you, then you need to explain to your boss that a volunteer is better off working for your colleague. In other words, a volunteer doesn’t want to work for an unassertive person. People that volunteer are doing so with the knowledge they are a follower and will be told by a leader what to do.
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#2

Postby Ali Baby » Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:00 am

Hi Richard,

I do have authority over the volunteer and I have no problem being assertive with those I supervise. My colleague is on the same level as me so I have no authority over her. A big part of my job is leadership, and I'm fully capable of it.

I'm trying to establish myself in this new role, and I don't want to upset the apple cart by causing any ill feeling, and this colleague is very over the top so a simple conversation with her about not muscling in on other people's work could really cause her to lose her temper. We've got a nice team here, and it would be a shame for there to be a bad atmosphere.
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#3

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Oct 24, 2018 5:57 pm

I guess I’m trying to establish the disconnect. Does this other person also have authority over the volunteer? In other words, the volunteer has two bosses? Who creates the work schedule? Who fills out the volunteers “welcome” packet or keeps whatever personnel file? Volunteers don’t get paid by definition, but there is still paperwork of some sort, ID cards, training documents, etc.

Other than this volunteer, how many direct reports do you have?
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#4

Postby emtelligence » Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:16 am

Hey Ali,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your struggles. It's a brave move to admit these things and I think that is a first step to strengthen yourself.

I think what you're doing is creating a story that if you say something to your colleague that you're rocking the boat. I also acknowledge that you realize there may be other factors involved. I think that you're on the right path and the necessary thing to do is to understand your fellow coworker. Go be a friend; go and level with your colleague.

What do you think would happen if you went and chatted with your co-worker about what she/he is trying to do? How would you feel? How would they feel? What would you try to accomplish?

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