Minor disagreements happen and can be most annoying, plus they divert attention from other matters.
Here we are not talking about major issues such as bullying. Rather, the issues involved may include people who are rarely at their desk, so you get interrupted by others asking where they are. Also, what about people who are always too busy to help juniors with on the job training? They may be the people who are often seen being charming to the boss. Then there are the people who borrow money frequently.
It’s a team
It is possible the firm team leader may not be aware of the annoying people. You may feel awkward and petty raising the issues with them. Does your firm conduct regular team building activities? Maybe the issues could be raised at such an activity? But take care of commenting in a public forum.
Certainly the positive effect of team building can be eroded if there is one petty, selfish, annoying person at the firm. One hopes it is not you. When you go to sit for lunch, do others all move away?
What team leaders can do
Firstly, don’t assume you know everything going on in the office. I recall one firm principal who, for an urgent matter, had to unexpectedly access the emails of an employee who was on leave. The principal discovered a series of most unpleasant email exchanges with a fellow employee. The matter was so serious both employees were asked to leave. Then others in the office came up and said “I am so glad they have left, they were horrible” and one former employee said “if I had known you were getting rid of them I would have stayed”. It seemed the only person who was unaware was the principal.
So for principals, it becomes necessary to ask open ended questions to find out what is happening. I think good questions could include
- What could I do to help make your work environment more pleasant?
- What could I do to help make you more productive?
- If you were asked about the culture of this firm, what would you say?
Charming the boss
You look up and there he or she is, hanging off every word of the boss. I recall one fellow employee who regularly chatted with the boss about golf. This particular employee was not at all interested in golf, but he knew the boss was. I used to wonder was the boss so thick he could not see through it?
Just ignore it
This is the response from a lot of people, but they don’t have to work with the person, day in day out. Still, we do sometimes take things too personally or too seriously. Also, for some people, work seems to be their whole life, minor matters there can take on too much importance. Ask yourself, if I was off to painting class, or cricket practice (or whatever) this evening, would this irritation really matter?
Are you the only one upset?
It can be a good idea to ask someone else what they think. Hopefully they will support you and may have some suggestions for ways to deal with it. If it is only you that gets asked for a loan, or to pick up lunch whilst you are out, maybe you are being manipulated and need to build some boundaries?
If you have someone in your office and they are particularly annoying, consider speaking with them. Firstly check with at least one other person to see if you are the only person being irritated. Find out if they know how annoying they are. If your firm has an HR section, speak with the people there, ask for their help.
Thea Foster, Added Value Corporation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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