Career Management: 5 Tips To Help You Avoid Co-Worker Bullying
It’s tough when you’re the new person on the job. There are a lot of things you don’t know. You’re learning how things are done, who to go to or the office politics. You are also dependent on others to help you learn your job. Although we always hope to be greeted with open arms in the new job, there are times when you become the target for behavior ranging from teasing to downright bullying. You would think we left that kind of behavior in middle school but when conditions are right, a group of people can do some pretty nasty things to the person that doesn’t “fit in”.
When you are the brunt of bad group behavior it’s demoralizing and can be bad enough to make you want to leave your job. That alternative isn’t a bad one to consider but since it is a big step to take, consider it only after you have tried a few of these things:
- Single out a few people to connect with personally. Select a couple of people in the group that you feel you have a better connection with or, at least, the potential. Look for opportunities to spend a few minutes with these people in a one on one setting and get to know them. Ask them questions about their work and personal life. In the process, they will get to know you absent any pressure from their work friends. Sometimes all it takes is building a connection with a couple of people for the rest of the group to decide to accept you.
- Figure out who the alpha is. All groups have an informal alpha leader. They are the “go to” person for their opinions and direction. Figure out who that person is, what makes them tick and focus on successful interactions with them. Sometimes, if you win over the alpha the rest of the group is won over as well.
- Stay focused and upbeat. Humans do have a tendency to pick on their own if they perceive weakness. A new employee fits that description because they don’t know much and are dependent on others until they get up to speed. If you stay focused on learning your job and show no signs of backing off, you will be respected simply because of your tenacity. You have to be more persistent than they are. It’s hard to keep up that kind of bad behavior when you lose any reason to be a pest.
- Find a mentor. You may need to find a person at work that will act as your personal mentor and advisor to help you through this situation. A mentor who knows the group dynamics and business should be able to advise you on specific things you can do to be successful with the people you work with. Often times, that person can also be your champion in the group which can go a long way to help.
- Talk to the boss. The boss may or may not know the extent of problems the others are causing for you. If their behavior is affecting your ability to do your job well, you need to be communicating with the boss to work on solutions. This needs to be done long before your performance puts you in danger of being fired. When you do go to the boss make sure you aren’t presenting your point in an overly emotional way. Document the behavior problems and how you see if impacting your work. The boss can’t fix a problem if they don’t have specifics.
This situation isn’t fun and even if you turn it around it may still be so damaging that you want to leave. It’s understandable that you may still want to get as far away from the situation as possible. You don’t want to act too hasty. Most conflict can be improved. The key to this situation is to keep your head high, act professionally and be persistent.
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