Dealing with Toxic Co-Workers
The workplace is rife with conflicts among coworkers, from minor inconveniences such as disruptively loud speaking to the more serious breaches of being interrupted, ignored, or taken advantage of. Behavioral experts offer suggestions about how to deal with the common phenomenon.
- DO confront colleagues about bad behavior. Don’t avoid dealing with difficult colleagues, but when you do, lead with a compliment, not a criticism. For example, if a coworker has not carried his or her fair share of a project, don’t start with “We’re all stuck doing your portion of the work. That’s so unprofessional.” Instead, open on a positive note. “I was pleased when you were assigned to the team because of your ability to XX.” Then focus on a specific behavior. “I’ve noticed that XX has been doing your weekly reports. We’d all like to hear your perspective.”
- Bring annoying colleagues closer rather than pushing them away. Avoidance is not the best strategy when dealing with people who make us angry. Say an individual regularly hijacks meetings or goes behind your back to get his or her way. To mitigate such behavior, ask that “bulldozer” to help make sure everyone’s voice is heard during a meeting. “You know how Greg never takes credit for his accomplishments. Why don’t you make sure everyone knows how hard he’s worked.”
- Align yourself with others the office pest bothers. Form alliances with workplace colleagues who have also been affected by an office bully. Experts say that having broad social connections rather than relying on a single best work friend helps form a united front of colleagues who, together, can better bring the problem to a manager’s attention.
Source: West, T. (2022, February 19.) How to deal with office jerks. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com
Downside of Informal Work Protocols
Few workers miss long commutes or trekking through winter weather while decked in work attire. But while remote work offers many benefits, it comes with some distinct negatives, too.
A lack of formalities such as clear start and stop times sounds great on the surface. However, a Harvard Business School study revealed that remote workers actually work longer hours.
The around-the-clock workday allows employers to monopolize their employees’ time throughout the day and night, making it more difficult for workers to maintain a formal end to their day or ask for time off.
Another loss to workers caused by the casual workplace is the elimination of managerial hierarchies with clear pathways for advancement. Many workplaces have done away with middle management positions, instead having lower level workers report directly to top-level leaders. This flatter organizational structure particularly affects junior employees because their managers delegate more responsibilities onto them without giving formal promotions.
Finally, working remotely has particularly hurt workers at the bottom of workplace hierarchies. These employees may be hesitant to report harassment or to push back against bad behavior without the formal reporting procedures that are routine in an actual office.
Perhaps worst of all is that in the casual workplace, young employees do not interact with managers who ideally would model appropriate workplace behavior.
Source: Spiers, E. (2022, February 7.) What we lose when work gets too casual. The New York Times. https://www.nyt.com
Résumé Tips for Remote Jobs
To convince a potential employer that you are capable of being a productive addition to a business even when working remotely, your résumé must convincingly illustrate that you have the skills to work in a hybrid or fully remote function.
Use these strategies when applying to remote or hybrid positions.
- Describe any remote or hybrid roles explicitly: Remotely managed multiple projects for team leaders in four U.S. cities.
- Highlight relevant skills: Ability to manage time efficiently without oversight.
- Show you can collaborate virtually: Mentored peers on using Slack.
- Demonstrate self-motivation: Initiated system to reduce overstocking by 15%.
- Spell out tech skills: Digital competencies include fluency in Slack, Microsoft Teams, Basecamp, and Google Drive.
- Project collegiality: Took on team leadership of project when colleague fell ill, leading to team being recognized in all-hands meeting.
Source: Samuel, A. (2022, February 17.) Looking for a remote job? It’s time to update your résumé. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com