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Career Q&A | By Marie G. McIntyre, McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

Work on relationship with peer turned boss

Q: After our new CEO reorganized the company, one of my peers became my boss. "Barry" was promoted primarily because he had worked with the CEO at another business. Before this change, Barry and I collaborated on several successful projects and worked well together as colleagues.

Unfortunately, I have recently determined that Barry is not the person I thought he was. Although he tells me I'm doing a great job, he apparently never shares that opinion with higher-level executives. Some friends have shown me emails in which he takes credit for my work by presenting the facts in a misleading way.

Now I'm concerned about my career, because I don't see how I can advance with Barry as my manager. Even if I produce outstanding results, no one will know about them. I can't speak directly to upper management, because our company is very strict about the chain of command.

I like my job and my co-workers, but I'm beginning to think that leaving is my only option. What do you think?

A: A change in power dynamics often triggers a change in relationships. Now that Barry is your boss, you are understandably scrutinizing his actions more closely. However, you need to be careful about jumping to unwarranted conclusions.

Since you aren't privy to Barry's conversations with executives, you really don't know what he's saying about your job performance. And based on your description, it's hard to tell whether his emails deliberately downplay your contributions or simply fail to highlight your accomplishments.

If you are concerned about your career, remember that the first key to success is getting along with your boss. That's especially true here, because Barry's history with the CEO gives him a lot of leverage. The last thing you want to do is alienate him, so stop listening to your meddling "friends" and start resurrecting your previously positive relationship.

To further increase your chances of advancement, concentrate on expanding your network of supporters. Seek out opportunities to collaborate with influential colleagues or participate in high-visibility projects. The more people who think well of you, the greater the odds that word will reach top management.

If you eventually conclude that your prospects with this company are limited, then leaving may be a good idea. So far, however, you don't have enough evidence to justify a hasty departure from a job that you enjoy.

Remind manager of promotion plan

Q: Several months ago, my manager said I would be receiving a promotion. But since that time, she has not mentioned it again. How can I remind her of her promise?

A: That's easy. Just make a polite request for an update. For example: "A few months ago, we discussed the possibility that I might be promoted this year. I would like to find out if I can still expect that to happen."

Hopefully, your manager will indicate that a promotion is still in the works. But if not, knowing where you stand is much better than continuing to wait and wonder.

It's okay to talk in interest of harmony

Q: Of the 10 secretaries in my work group, I am definitely the quietest. I chat with my co-workers first thing in the morning, but after that I prefer to focus on my job. Although I really am interested in other people, I just don't feel the need to keep talking all day. However, I'm afraid my colleagues may think I'm a snob because I dislike unnecessary conversation.

A: To promote workplace harmony, people with opposite personality traits should make a reasonable effort to modify their natural work styles. Quiet folks must engage in enough interaction to convey a friendly interest, while their loquacious counterparts need to dial back the constant chatter.

Try to understand that what seems like "unnecessary conversation" can be an important part of building relationships, so take some time to ask your colleagues about their work, family or personal interests. If you want others to accept your innate reserve, you must also accept their more gregarious personalities.

Work on relationship with peer turned boss 09/22/12 [Last modified: Saturday, September 22, 2012 4:31am]
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