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I need to change something to get along better

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Hi everyone,


I’m having issues at work that I was hoping some of you might have some insight on.


I’m sort of next in line to be a manager. And I get along with most people in my branch, but not everyone on my team. These two women have some issues with me. Their complaints (which I only know b/c they talk about me behind my back) are stemmed from some issues I had last week with them. They told someone that I’m too demanding and that I don’t allow them to do the work in their own method.


I am a 27 year old woman that has taken on the most demanding account and produced more than 80% of the products that have gone out of the branch. I get several short turn around requests very frequently.


One of my teammates has been in the branch longer, but not the company, and is older. But she does not have the initiative to start and complete projects on her own. She treats me like a child out of the office and is very condescending. But I think she gets frustrated when we get back to the office and I’m higher career wise than she is. I really think she needs to step up her account and take them somewhere rather than be bitter that I’ve done so well with mine.


Something came in last week and I thought maybe she’d like to work a high priority issue. So I asked her if she had time help me with it? And she said yes, she could help. I gave her everything she needed to do the project and said, I need the product in format 1 or format 2, but I would prefer format 2, so we could use it later on. She proceeded to argue with me on that. I was very frustrated at this point, bc she was arguing with me for the sake of arguing. I didn’t care how she got to the end format, I just wanted it in that format.


The other is a 37 yr old woman that came about 8 months ago. I actually do like her. I think she has a lot of potential but seems resistant to being lead by a 27 year old. I often try to ask for her help, but she seems to get angry. So I try to modify my ways. She always says she has time, but then in the middle of the project, she seems to not be able to finish it. I had a project come in and knew she could help with. So, first thing in the morning I sat next to her and asked her if she had time, etc. She said she could make the time, and then at the end of the day proceeded to tell me she couldn’t work on the project for the next two days b/c she was going to be out for sick leave for doctor’s appts. So she comes back and of course she can’t finish it, so I bring another colleague over that I know has the ability to. I’m not trying to step over her, but there was a deadline for this project and she knew it. In the end, she helped out some, and I did tell her she did a good job. Apparently she was angry of the way I asked her to work on it. I don’t get what else I could have done.


The two of them have become best friends, and even spend nights at each others houses, etc. We’ve had to go on work trips, and they spend all their time together. I might grab dinner or something with them, but I prefer to be left on my own for the most part, as I am in school and working full time and have a boyfriend and tons of after work activities. Also, I just don’t “mesh” well with them. Also, I feel like the 29 yr old is influencing the thoughts of the 37 year old a lot.


I plan on sitting down with the 37 year old and thanking her (AGAIN) for her help, and asking if there was a better way I could have approached her. But the 29 yr old and I just do not get along. I have nothing much against her, but she just seems ungenuine.


I’ve been tasked to manage projects with several of the other people, and they all go well. People know that these two women are a little overly-emotional. But I have to work with them one way or the other.

Any recommendations for what I can do to help make things flow better? In the end it's about the work right? Not about the person?

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Hello confused. I can't help with your situation, as 1. I've never been in a managerial role, and 2. I find it hard to grasp what is exactly going on between you and these two women, in spite of the detail you gave.


And it does sound like you're doing the right thing and maybe they have issues and your seniority in spite of being younger is bringing up defensiveness and insecurities.


But I will just say that in my experience in the workplace with good managers and not so great managers is that it is the ones who have empathy and humanity and who have given me recognition for my efforts and also for who I am as an individual (and it sounds like you've done that), who get the best out of me.


In the end it's about the work right? Not about the person?


Yes it's about the work, which is why it's important to know how to get the best out of people. And because people are people... emotional creatures, not robots, the way to get the best out of your workers is to treat them well. To treat their self esteem well, and not hurt their self esteem. In your case this is more tricky because you're younger, so you're probably doing the right thing by simply thanking them rather than dishing out compliments which might seem patronising.


I've had my share of bosses, and the ones who got the worst productivity from me were the ones who clearly didn't like me, who were frustrated by the things I wasn't good at, and who didn't show any appreciation of my work. It wasn't me being vengeful, but I find it hard to work fast and effectively when my self esteem is battered.


My point being, that if you want to get results as a manager, there is never such thing as knowing too much psychology.


All the best, and I hope you can get a more constructive answer than mine.

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Thank you lucy!

I do appreciate that. I do tend to be very militant in my work ethic, mainly b/c i don't have the time to chit chat--why do that when i could be doing school work?

So i try not to expect the same.

Also, I think the issue is,is that I work for mainly with military people. So we're women definitely working in a men's world. I don't mind so much, most of my jobs have been in male dominated environments, but these jobs have large consequences if we cannot provide quick answers.

So I feel like I've been very shaped by working with military men. These women come from a different background.

I should definitely try to make an effort to be "friendlier" in some senses. But I just don't want to be fake either? I'm a very straightforward person usually, so this issue is just so annoying to me.

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I should definitely try to make an effort to be "friendlier" in some senses. But I just don't want to be fake either? I'm a very straightforward person usually, so this issue is just so annoying to me.


Traversing cultural differences is always challenging. But it can be very rewarding to find you're capable of building a good rapor with someone who thinks and is really different from yourself. So, just to elaborate what I already said in my other post:


- Good managers are almost always good with people.

- spending time with your colleagues at lunch or whenever it is that you usually opt for studying or doing other things instead is not as irrelevant to the job as you might think. If you want to improve productivity, you might want to invest time in your relationships with your colleagues. You don't need to be fake, you just need to take an interest in them.


- If you feel like you don't mesh with these women, maybe it's because you haven't invested time into trying to build a rapor with them and to really understand them. You don't have to be sickeningly nice if you are able to take a genuine interest in them. I personally don't trust people who are sickeningly nice. But someone who shows curiosity in me and tries to understand me will win me over a lot quicker.It's not necessarily easy, but if you haven't tried, how will you know? It's worth trying to understand them because generally, the more you learn to understand a person, the more likely you are to genuinely like them and that way you don't have to fake liking them, which they'll probably see through anyway.


I know that it sounds like a lot of work, but if it's giving you grief having bad relationships with people at work, it might be worth the extra time and effort you put in. And if you have aspirations to continue on in managerial roles, then consider the skill of learning to get on side with different people to be part of your studies. You won't get a certificate at the end, but it's still part of your professional development.


Work can be rewarding or it can be soul destroying. I work in an environment which is busy and stressful, but at the same time, almost everyone is friendly and recognises the value to work of building up good relationships with each other. If I were to get a new manager with a military background, who brought that culture with them, I can imagine how I might easily get my nose out of joint. The culture of these women and this current job might seem inefficient, but try to observe. There might be reasons that they do things in a more flexible way. The criticism of you that you wouldn't let people do things their own way is a sign that you maybe need to recognise the importance of giving people autonomy. If people feel like they're being treated like subordinates in the military, which they aren't, then chances are morale is going to drop and productivity will too, and possibly lead to a higher employee turnover. It sounds like you already have a good awareness of the cultural differences at play here. So if you pay more attention to the differences and try not to impose the military way on your current work style, you might see positive results.


But then again, it could be that these two women are in the wrong. All you can do is your part, and maybe eventually they'll come through.

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