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  1. #1
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    Default Navigating Workplace Politics

    This is a new situation for me so I'd love some thoughts. I don't want to write an essay but happy to provide more info if needed.

    How do I manage the fact that everyone I work with (and with whom I have long established friendships beyond work relationships) really dislikes our new boss and I don't? More than that, there are constant snide comments, some I think are unfair, and they have decided to see everything she does negatively. Sometimes it's fair, others not.

    I want to be supportive but I don't like to just sit by when people are being unfair about others. I feel tense around one person in particular. In the past she's been amazingly supportive to me. I feel like she doesn't want anything but for me to dislike the boss too. She doesn't want my opinion or perspective, that's for certain. I just want them both to come to blows, sort their crap out and clear the air perhaps.

    I feel like the other teachers think I'm like the 'pet'. I don't think I am. I feel caught in the middle. I can understand some things the teachers don't like but they haven't spoken up and tried to talk about it. They're intimidated by the principal. I'm not for some reason. I actually get her. But then I worry that I'm missing something if everyone else doesn't.

    I'm a mediator by nature and really struggling with this all. On the one hand they're adults and can figure their own stuff out. On the other, well, it's annoying me and is affecting me at work.

    Do I just put my head down and keep out of it all?

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    It's tricky.. If you ask them not to talk about the boss around you, you risk having your colleagues excluding you from conversations.. And possibly also turning on you but I would hope that adults wouldn't be so petty.

    Have you asked them why they don't like the boss/principal?

    Sometimes it's just different personalities clashing. Maybe you have a more lenient or tolerant or objective temperament?

    If I was in your shoes, I would just smile and let them say what they want to say but I wouldn't participate in the boss bashing. I would just stay impartial and try not to let it get to me. If it was only one person doing this, I would tell them to stop, but as its become part of the workplace culture to diss the boss, then as you put it, head down and get on with it..

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    harvs  (04-08-2016)

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    I would keep my head down, but that's due to my own workplace experience.

    How long has the new boss been there?

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    harvs  (04-08-2016)

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    Personally I would probably sit silently through it but speak up if I hear anything particularly unfair

    It's a hard path treading between colleagues you get along with separately but they don't.

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    harvs  (04-08-2016)

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    What is they don't like? Is it the bosses personality? or are they complaining because they don't like her professionally?

    If it is a professional thing, I would consider pointing out how to lodge an official complaint as a way of shutting them up / redirecting them. eg Oh it sounds like you have a lot of issues regarding the boss over xyz, if you want to lodge an official complaint you could always have a chat to Bob from HR.

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    I've been in your place where everyone at work disliked my manager when I actually liked him and thought he was doing a great job.

    In the end he got made redundant so I must have missed on things - however I think he got made redundant because he couldn't navigate internal politics.

    Anyway, the way I dealt with the situation was to usually stay quiet if it was quick passing remark. However when it was a full on discussion about it I would say that I wasn't very comfortable discussing others in that way and I would sometimes give positive example of his good work and why I though he was a good manager.
    It didn't affect me too much, at the end of the day I respected everyone's opinion just not continuous bashing behind people's back. Also our company is very strong against bullying so that would keep people from engaging too much into negative comments.

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    harvs  (04-08-2016)

  12. #7
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    Default Navigating Workplace Politics

    Thanks for your replies!

    What people don't like - she can be very autocratic. She is outspoken and a bit of a dumper (ie, feels all her feelings very loudly, but then is fine), and is sometimes a little tactless. She has been here since the start of the year and wasn't great from the start about sharing positives etc. I think she had mild culture shock coming from the city and expressed it through complaining about our site. So it wasn't a great start. And I get that.

    But to me, it's liberating to know that she just dumps things and moves on. I challenge her and don't lose sleep over it because I know that she isn't. I tell her not to talk to me like that if she needs it, and it doesn't bother me.

    I've tried advising others to talk to her (which is exactly what they'd say to me, by the way). I offered one suggestion, which was to pick your battles and let more stuff go because it didn't feel like she was doing so. My head was snapped off 'actually I let lots go every day!' Then she was in my ear scoffing because the boss says pavement and not footpath 😳

    But @witherwings, you nailed it - I am really worried about ending up on the outer. And that makes me frustrated because I feel like I am the one who's acting like an adult here!

    I think you're all correct. I just need to go to work, do my job, listen to people who want to complain/vent, hold my tongue and let them all fight it out. It just feels like the opposite of who I am.

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    If I were in your position I would report the inappropriate behavior (let's face it, gossiping is a form of bullying) to someone in the department outside your current workplace (eg regional manager?) advise them that you do not want your name to be released as the source of the complaint and that you want something done to stop the inappropriate behavior. Eg general staff training in appropriate behavior/conflict resolution etc). Perhaps they could do training without mentioning specific incidents so that people never really know what the prompter was/so feelings don't get hurt.
    I couldn't just stand by and watch.

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    harvs  (04-08-2016)

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    Just thought of another approach. Depending on your relationship with your boss you could have an in confidence talk with her. Tell her how other people (not naming names) feel when she does certain things. Say you don't necessarily agree with those people but that you didn't want your boss to be blindsighted and think you had kept her in the dark (as you like and respect her). Mention that you won't say anymore unless your boss wants to talk and that you definitley won't be gossiping to other staff.

    If your boss is a good manager she will self reflect and change some behaviors. As well as gently introduce measures to recalibrate her staffs bearing on what is appropriate behavior.

    I've done this before and the manager really appreciated support and being kept in the loop.

    Of course this approach won't work if your boss is a hot head/immature etc

    Good luck

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  17. #10
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    VP that's exactly what I want to do - speak to the boss (but more generally, just outlining some issues from my perspective). But I think that's the mediator in me. And I don't think I should speak for others if they don't know about it. It feels underhanded.

    Our workplace is too small (less than 8), and boss is far too confrontational, for me to really get away with anything like that I think. And then I wonder - whose needs am I trying to address if I do that? My own desire for everyone to get along?

    As for your other suggestion, unfortunately it won't really work the way our education system is set up unless I want to make it bigger than Ben Hur, and I really don't want to. I can't see a way, anyway, but thanks for the ideas, I'll give them some more thought.


 

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