YOUR OFFICE COACH: Focus on what's important
Q: Two of my female coworkers have management wrapped around their little fingers. These women have been here much longer than I have, but my qualifications and experience are twice as good. However, I recently discovered that my salary is a lot ...
Q: Two of my female coworkers have management wrapped around their little fingers. These women have been here much longer than I have, but my qualifications and experience are twice as good. However, I recently discovered that my salary is a lot lower.
Although my supervisor's boss says I am management material, my supervisor treats me no differently than my complacent coworkers. After receiving an excellent performance review, I was dismayed to learn he gave them the same rating.
These women seem to be considered "sacred cows" who can do no wrong. I don't know how to fight back, because I might get fired if I cross them. As a former military officer, I'm not afraid to take them on, but I don't want to create a lot of turmoil. How can I lessen their influence?
A: Although you're putting a lot of energy into this battle, it's not clear what the war is about. In fact, you might be the only person fighting.
Since these women seem to be doing you no harm, your resentment may simply reflect the inevitable frustrations of a mid-life career change. As a military officer, you had status and authority. Now you're just the new guy in this department.
If you want to succeed, start focusing on your own career instead of being sidetracked by petty jealousy. Since your influential colleagues have a lot of leverage, you need to get along with them. Otherwise, you risk being labeled "difficult to work with".
Continuing to fret about pay and performance ratings is pointless and unproductive. New hires are often paid less than long-term employees, and other people's appraisals are really none of your business.
The good news is you've been identified as having management potential. But the bad news is impatience and arrogance could easily wreck that opportunity.
Q: I recently lost a job after six months because management said I was a "mismatch". Although I found another job immediately, it is not something I want to do long-term. I like my supervisor and coworkers, but I don't enjoy the work.
I would like to continue looking for a more professional position, but I don't want to be viewed as a job hopper. I also feel guilty and disloyal, since my new employer hired me when I was jobless. Can you help me sort this out?
A: Your feelings of guilt are guiding you towards the ethical choice. Hiring and training someone is costly, so your employer deserves a chance to recoup that investment. If you ditch this job now, you will be treating your new boss just like the old one treated you.
This is also a practical decision, because two very brief jobs will not look good on your resume. Try to stay with this employer for at least a year and use that time to carefully study the job market. You need to be sure your next position is a keeper.
(McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics." Send in questions and get free coaching tips at www.yourofficecoach.com .)
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