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

Nine To Five

My co-workers hate me. Is it time to walk? Add to ...

THE QUESTION

I am hated by my co-workers. Please let me emphasize the word “hated.” I am everything they’re not: I’m in my mid-fifties they’re in their mid-twenties. They love video games, my eyes glaze over. They live on Facebook, I talk on the phone. They can flash dance on a keyboard, I’m a two-finger typist. They can eat me alive when it comes to software; I use Microsoft Word. It’s all tech, tech, tech talk. No one reads books or newspapers.

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When I ask for professional assistance, they leave the room. They made it clear on my first day they have a hierarchy, and they come first. I’ve been there eight months. I’ve tried the nice-boy approach, and now ignore the group altogether.

In short: I’m analog, they’re digital. I don’t have an iPad, a cellphone, wear a baseball cap or my pants half way down my butt. I’m also capable of forming a complete sentence without the word “like” in it.

The boss says I have something he can’t buy – maturity and professionalism. He’s a master when it comes to technology but, in my opinion, has no ability to compile a “team.” If maturity and professionalism are what he wants, he should ditch his cellphone and conduct a lot more one-on-one interaction.

He’s aware of my dilemma and made it clear that those in the department are there because he makes the decision for them to be there. A part-time job and full-time pain. I think it’s time to walk. What do you think?

THE FIRST ANSWER

Pamela Jeffery

Founder, Women’s Executive Network, Toronto

It sounds like you don’t just think it’s time to walk, you know it’s time to walk. From the scene and work environment you have presented here, I agree. This is a textbook case of a lack of cultural fit. You walked into a company that doesn’t speak to your values and you don’t speak its language.

It is precisely to avoid this type of situation that leading organizations are so focused on defining their core values and, more important, their core behaviours. It’s not a new concept, but it is one that is certainly becoming even more relevant to enhance productivity and ensure work teams are collaborating and helping advance the objectives of the organization. Corporate Culture isn’t just a buzzword. It’s a blueprint for success – or failure.

But the responsibility of ensuring cultural fit doesn’t just fall to the organization. You have a role to play, too. I’m sure if you are being honest, you knew this wasn’t the right company for you, but you took a chance. In this case, it didn’t pay off. Let it serve as a lesson. Know yourself, what you bring to the table and how you work and then hold that up against the organization you are thinking about joining. Then decide whether or not you and the company are a good match.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Greg A. Chung-Yan

Associate professor, industrial/organizational psychology, University of Windsor

I’m sorry you’re hated, but it sounds like the feeling is mutual. You speak of their interests with disdain. I have more in common with you than them, but I’m not sure I’d like you, either. You come across as pretentious, inflexible and judgmental. Your feelings about the general state of youth culture might also be affecting your ability to see your colleagues as individuals rather than as stereotypes.Certainly people who ostracize others in the workplace without a good-faith effort to be collegial and helpful is immature – if not outright mean. And I agree that your boss ought to have more personal contact with his employees. But you have to adapt to the workplace as it is, rather than lament that it is not as it should be. If you can’t, then yes, leave.

Basic methods of getting people to like you are to get them to talk about themselves and show an interest in them. You can learn something from everyone. For example, this is an opportunity to learn about social media from experts. So when they have their smartphones out, ask them how they work, who they text, and what benefits there are over what you’re used to (such as phone calls, e-mail).

Respect breeds respect, and once they feel respected by you, then they – including your boss – will be more open to learning your methods of doing things. Your age is not as big an impediment as you think and you can become a mentor to these people as long as you are willing to learn from them as well.

Are you facing a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that minefield? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com. Confidentiality ensured. Weigh in with your view at tgam.ca/careers. Check out past columns at http://tgam.ca/DjTz

Follow us on Twitter: @Globe_Careers

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