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Complaints could widen generational divide

Q: Half of the employees in our department are young people in their 20s, while the rest of us are over 40. The younger folks are definitely a different breed. Their ringleader, "Mike," is rude, arrogant and disrespectful. He likes to order people around and create unnecessary drama. In staff meetings, he does all the talking.

Several of us complained to our manager about Mike, but she didn't do anything. When we went to human resources, they just referred the issue back to our boss. Now Mike has been promoted to team leader and struts around the office like he's running the show.

Most of the older employees have been here for many years and would like to retire from this company. But we are tired of working with an office bully. Do you have any suggestions for dealing with this kind of person?

A: Your young colleague's cocky, self-centered attitude is undoubtedly annoying, but you've offered no evidence to support labeling him a bully. Bullies are cruel and intimidating. Mike just sounds like a jerk.

Mike has been promoted, which is a sign of management support. Continuing to gripe about him could backfire and damage your own career. When one co-worker has difficulty with another's personality, management often views the complainer as the source of the conflict.

You also fail to indicate how Mike's aggravating behavior creates any actual business problems, which makes me wonder exactly what you have complained about. Complaints to management should always focus on work-related issues, not personal irritations.

Finally, you and the other long-termers appear to be promoting generational warfare. Branding the younger group as a "different breed" sounds like dangerous and divisive stereotyping, which is anything but healthy. If one of these youngsters should eventually become your boss, that attitude will not serve you well.

Assistant can't save boss from himself

Q: No matter how hard I try, I can't get my boss organized. He's always late and constantly asks for information at the last minute. Although he told me to manage his calendar, he still makes appointments himself and sometimes gets double-booked. I have offered numerous suggestions, but he hasn't tried any of them. He doesn't even seem to realize he has a problem. As his assistant, I feel that I should be able to fix this, but I don't know how.

A: Sad to say, I am not terribly optimistic about your ability to improve this situation. In matters of organization, you and your scattered boss are simply opposite personality types. This combination is not unusual, because chaotic managers often rely on meticulously thorough assistants to save them from themselves.

While some of these assistants relish the feeling of being indispensable, others are driven absolutely bonkers by their disorganized bosses. If you fall into the latter category, you will have to decide whether your manager's good qualities outweigh his inefficiency because that trait is not likely to disappear.

Team upset by how it was given award

Q: The team I lead was recently given an award in a companywide meeting. During the presentation, our group's accomplishments were never described at all. We were just called to the stage, handed the award and congratulated by management. Then we went back to our seats.

This lack of appreciation was devastating to my team members. After the meeting, one employee commented that she felt like an unwanted stepchild. How can I motivate the group after such a big letdown?

A: Seriously? Your employees are "devastated" after receiving an award in front of the entire company? Since you offer no logical reason for this peculiar response, I can only conclude that you are supervising a bunch of narcissistic whiners.

As the leader of these malcontents, you need to understand that managers often have the power to influence the perception of events. Whereas an immature supervisor might further damage morale by echoing the group's complaints, a mature leader would try to lift their spirits by injecting a dose of reality.

For example: "Even though our accomplishments weren't specifically described in the meeting, I can assure you that management is aware of them. After all, that's why we got the award! You should really be proud of yourselves because everyone has been impressed with your hard work this year."

Carefully consider whether your own reaction to this event may have contributed to your team's unhealthy attitude. If so, then you should immediately take steps to undo that damage.

Complaints could widen generational divide 06/08/13 [Last modified: Thursday, June 6, 2013 6:47pm]
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