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(Cinders McLeod/The Globe and Mail)
(Cinders McLeod/The Globe and Mail)

Nine to Five

How do I deal with co-workers who are jealous of my success? Add to ...

The Question:

I’m a grad student and have returned to a summer commission sales job for the past five years. I’m outperforming the full-time staff despite my seasonal employment. Some co-workers resent my sales acumen and have made it difficult to work in the booth we all share. How do I cope with their attitude while continuing to keep my sales high?

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The First Answer:

Heather Faire

Human Resources executive

Kudos for taking on graduate studies and a career! It sounds like you set high standards for yourself and are committed to seeing them through.

Without more details of what makes your co-workers “difficult,” it is hard to suggest specific ways to cope. This situation could be simple jealousy but you shouldn’t compromise your standards of performance, and you aren’t likely going to improve theirs. You could look for another job or you could try building co-worker relationships to help make your time with them more pleasant.

In the workplace, people generally don’t want to get in your way; they just want to make sure you aren’t shoving them out of your way. Getting along begins with building trust and understanding. This is done mostly by spending time together and you may be at a disadvantage as a seasonal worker. Investing more time to get to know your co-workers when you’re back for the season might help.

Even if they don’t get the good results you do, consider what you see that your co-workers do well. Ask them about it and try doing it, too. People love to tell stories, especially about themselves. Emulating a co-worker’s behaviour in the workplace can be a kind of “nod” to them. Your co-workers might see your efforts as showing them respect. In turn, they might change their attitude and show you a little respect, too. While this approach might not solve the problem entirely, it could be a first step toward building a better work environment.

The Second Answer:

Zuleika Sgro

Talent manager, Questrade.com

Sales is competitive by nature, and this can make things ugly. Not everyone competes fairly or ethically. It’s important for you to keep doing what you are doing and to try and get them to see that their negative behaviour isn’t affecting you, but really in the end, is causing a distraction for them to improve their own numbers. They shouldn’t be spending so much effort making your life hard; rather, they should take this as motivation to do better. I would recommend you talk to them about it and encourage them to see you are all in this as a team to achieve your sales goals and better the company and yourselves.

When you speak to them, be specific in terms of what actions or behaviours you are seeing from them to make you feel this way. If this doesn’t work, I would suggest you document those negative actions and behaviours your co-workers are presenting towards you, and speak to your manager about it. It’s important your manager knows about these behaviours on the team and encourages a good environment so you and those who are focused can keep making the company and themselves profitable.

Don’t let others affect your high standards – it’s difficult to be a high performer. You face people who are jealous and people who want to see you fail. As long as you don’t lessen your standards you will continue to succeed. This is a good experience to take with you along your career about how you are able to be a high performer despite these types of challenges. They exist in every workplace.

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