The art of managing tricky office relationships

You need to be doubly careful when it comes to handling workplace ties, since both the relationship with colleagues and your career is at stake. Here is how you can negotiate difficult office relationships that could otherwise prevent you from getting a good day’s work done.

Your ex-boss is now your junior
You are taken aback because your boss at your previous job—who you like and respect— has joined your current firm and is reporting to you. Make sure your priority lies in delivering a positive outcome for your employer. Recognise that your ex-boss has more experience than you in the industry, and he is likely to be comfortable in such a situation. If you are not comfortable, have your ex-boss assigned to a different team. However, if you want to work on the situation, discuss with your ex-boss the challenge of having to work with him in a new equation. Make sure you continue to respect him within your personal space and let your employer be aware of the common past. If you are the one reporting to somebody who worked under you before, display the maturity of a seasoned professional and help him succeed at his job.

Your best friend is incompetent
While you have been promoted, your close friend has been ignored. You have also been tasked to counsel him to improve his performance or be fired. Head out with your friend during office hours to a neutral location like a coffee shop. Share that you have an official agenda and that you care enough for the relationship to speak to him as a friend first. Help him work through what’s holding him back. Together, figure out the best options for him inside and outside the firm. Finally, close the conversation by sharing that the only official component of the conversation was about improving performance. If you are the under-performer, acknowledge your friend for the difficult task he has and leverage his knowledge to figure out your future.

Your spouse, working in the same organisation, has been promoted
You find yourself harbouring mixed feelings of pride and jealousy. Spend some time alone to decide whether you can treat it like a situation where a co-worker has been promoted and you haven’t. Recognise that your top priority is the personal equation that you share at home and not the workplace dynamic. If you find that the social and personal impact of the event is too challenging, consider switching to another firm. If you believe you can handle your emotions and the occasional snide remarks from colleagues, stick on and walk with your head held high. In either case, discuss your feelings and thoughts with your spouse and listen carefully to what your spouse is dealing with. If you are the one who has been promoted, be sensitive to what your partner may be going through, suspend your judgment and invest in protecting your personal space.

Your boss is bad for your career
If your boss is a poor performer and your team is unable to achieve its goals then your career gets stalled too. Choose to separate your emotions from what is good for your career and move on to a more successful boss. You can always continue to maintain a great personal rapport with your ex-boss. If your capability has been recognised by your boss’s superior, you can choose to stay back, but know that your boss will soon be fired and you will be asked to replace him. If you are the boss in this scenario, recognise the signs when high-performing and well-liked subordinates leave your team, and work to improve the situation.

You report to multiple bosses who hate each other
You are in a bind because each boss tries to get you to gossip about the other or hogs your time in a way that prevents you from fulfilling your other commitments. Congratulations! You are getting a first-hand experience of handling multiple conflicting stakeholders and this experience will hold you in good stead for the future. As for now, politely decline to be party to any negative conversations. In due course, your bosses will respect you for your integrity and for not talking behind their backs. Gradually learn to say ‘No’ to work that does not belong to you, so that you have time to do the work you were hired to do. If you are the manager carrying on a running battle with your peers, remember, in a situation like this, no one really wins.

This article is republished from ET Wealth and the original author is Devashish Chakravarty. Original article can be viewed here:

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