About two weeks ago, my co-worker/friend revealed she was getting a promotion. She said I couldn’t tell our CEO that I knew, or she would get fired. When I didn’t jump up and down with joy, she accused me of being a poor friend. It took nearly a week for my CEO to tell me there was a reorganization coming.
Besides the initial shock of being passed over, I now have to report to my co-worker. She has a history of lying, exaggerating and stealing ideas, which I always overlooked because it didn’t affect me and I didn’t want to cause friction by calling her out. Unfortunately, now it does affect me. Besides that, she takes every opportunity to rub in my face that she is now my boss.
We are a small company lacking an HR department and frankly, while I am now miserable in a job I once loved, I don’t want people to think I am complaining because I got passed over for a promotion.
THE FIRST ANSWER
Howatt HR Consulting, Kentville, N.S.
Sadly, this situation is common and there is no simple solution. The first step is to get your emotions under control so you can think and not overreact. For now, “Don’t feed the troll.” In other words, don’t do anything to encourage her negative behaviour.
Consider how your co-worker is attempting to rub her promotion in your face. You can take away some of her perceived power by not showing any emotion or concern. Don’t react, and most likely within a couple of weeks she will stop this behaviour because there will be no reward for her. That is, there will be no sign that she is upsetting you by bragging.
If, after this, she does not start acting more professionally on her own, it’s time for you to take action. Have a respectful and calm conversation with her to set clear boundaries, especially if you feel she is abusing her authority or becoming a bully. Make sure there is a witness to this conversation and be clear about what you expect.
You mentioned that your job is now miserable. If you feel this way because of this manager, you are giving her too much power. Try to get some coaching from a trusted peer or professional. If you still cannot enjoy your work because of this manager, then perhaps it’s time to talk to your CEO to lay out what you have been struggling with, and ask for their recommendations. If the CEO is not interested in helping or listening, then perhaps you need to consider your options. Many employees don’t quit their employer; they quit their manager.
THE SECOND ANSWER
Founder of Made You Think Coaching, Toronto
You are miserable because of two things. First, your feelings were hurt when you were passed over for a promotion and not brought into the loop before the reorganization. You probably feel disrespected and unappreciated. That’s powerful stuff – it’ll drive you nuts unless you address it.
Second, you have to figure out how to have a healthier working relationship with your new boss.
Both of these start with a conversation. With your boss, explain how you want the two of you to get along because you value the relationship, but that you’ve noticed a change since her new role. Be sure to ask her whether she thinks that you yourself are in any way the reason for the change.
Next, your CEO. Tell him you’re not here to complain – you simply feel a bit hurt that you were not brought into the loop about the reorganization. Then ask him what you need to work on in order to get the promotion you’re working toward. That’s a respectful way to say “Why didn’t I get promoted?”
Your CEO will figure that out and respect you for not laying blame or complaining. It will also give you something measurable to compare your accomplishments against when you have your next performance review.
Last, here are a few great questions to ask yourself before you have these conversations: How might I be part of the problem? What assumptions am I making? What outcome am I hoping for?
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