Petty jealousies need not spoil your success
A close colleague and I both went for the same job and I got it. While my colleague assures me she is happy for me and says she is secretly relieved because of the extra workload, I get the feeling she isn't telling me the truth. Since the promotion, she has been much frostier towards me and often refuses to take my ideas on board, dismissing them as irrelevant. Not only that she rarely sits with me at lunch any more. How do I handle her petty attitude towards my advance up the career ladder? SF, Dubai
Great to hear from you SF and congratulations on your new position. I just have one question - how much do you really want this job? I present the facts to you as I see them in your letter:
Fact: Both of you applied for a job, and only one was successful - you.
Fact: Your colleague is giving you her opinion on new ideas on a regular basis.
That's two facts. Now here's five possible facts, but when seen in the light of "thoughts become things", are they really facts after all?
Possible fact: She's not telling you the truth
Possible fact: She's frosty to you
Possible fact: She's refusing to take your ideas on board, dismissing them as irrelevant
Possible fact: The reason behind why she doesn't sit with you at lunch
Possible fact: The reason for pettiness is about you climbing the career ladder
To be frank SF, I see such imbalance when I read your letter, and far too many assumptions. To be successful in this new role, I suggest the following three tips:
1. Be clear on what is fact and what is fiction
New roles often require people management, which depends on open and factual discussions. Facts are indisputable, and when used correctly they add such weight to any discussion, argument or debate. Fictitious facts are arguable, and will guarantee to start accusations and disagreements, likely to end in "he said-she said" situations.
2. Focus on your key performance indicators
A new role means new tasks and new forms of measurements. There will be goals to meet and measures will exist. If she fits within, supports and serves those, then all is good. If she, as a person, or a producer of your results does not, then address this in a factual and formal manner through the channels open to you. When all else fails, the sacrificial lamb concept may be needed - in other words, get rid of her for the sake of the greater good if she's not performing.
Positive relationships and open environments drive results, those which you will be needing very soon. It's black and white really - she's either on the bus or not and when you collect facts that display the real situation, you can act accordingly. Yet, why not also run the "bus test" on yourself at the same time - to see if you too are supporting the team goals. Or even better, have an impartial observer to do so - just imagine if you were to see that your focus was on things other than results. Could that be?
3. Shield yourself from unnecessary encumbrances. Don't take on the world but rather your job. The world will have so much noise, static and pollution that will weigh you down - even the word "encumbrance" feels heavy to type. I do this in a way that may seem a little weird, but believe me it works. I cover myself in a plastic bubble and when unnecessary emotions, hype, requests or energy come my way, it simply bounces off. No one can see this happening, but believe me, the protection I receive from it works wonders.
The final and most important fact - your career will not prosper when you focus on the wrong things. I return to my first question - how much do you really want this job?
Get on with the job in hand, and let your results speak for themselves.
Debbie Nicol, the managing director of the Dubai-based business en motion, is a consultant on leadership and organisational development, strategic change and corporate culture. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for the Workplace Doctor's advice on your challenges, whether as an employee, a manager or a colleague