Job Boring and Queen Bee Co-Worker Doesn’t Help

Question:

I’ve been at current job for 8 months. I loved it in the beginning. The people seemed friendly and I liked the environment itself. The problem at that time was that the work itself was very unmotivating. I was hired as an electrical designer. I work with engineers and drafters. I am supposed to do designing. Since I have been here, I’ve been given duties that are lower in responsibility than a drafter. (which is one level down from my experience)

In the beginning, a female co-worker (who is a drafter) made it known to me that she didn’t like me getting paid more than her for doing the same stuff. I can see her point and told her that I saw it as unfair myself and thought she should get an actual promotion.

I could sense tension with her since starting. She has been there longer than me and has not moved up to designer yet. I don’t know if it’s because she’s young and too inexperienced or if she really deserves a promotion but they haven’t done that yet. She sure has alot of male friends there and seems to be put on a pedastal by them, so her not getting this pormotion puzzles me.

For a short time, my boss was vacationing and basically left her in charge of handing out work. She gave the more challenging and funner work to another co-worker who is actually supposed to be in another department, but is in ours just to help out. So he is getting the more motivational work, while I (who have 15 years years experience in my field) get the little piddly minor things to do.

I know she doesn’t like me and now it feels like she’s influenced people to not like me too. This is her first job. I think she wants to be queen bee. I am the only other female in our department. I think she finds me a threat although I’ve always always been nice to her.

I asked her to go to lunch if there’s a group of us going. She always declines. When she goes to lunch with all her male co-workers, she never invites me. It really hurts my feelings and I feel like she has gotten people to dislike me also.

This job pays very well, but I am terribly bored with it and now I feel friend-less! I am in need of some good advice. Thank You for your time.

Signed,

Bored and Friendless


Answer:

Dear Bored and Friendless:

It seems you have three issues to deal with. First, is the issue of the work you are doing, compared with the work you thought you were being hired to do. Second, is the situation involving your relationships with co-workers and whether or not you are fitting into the culture as you would like to do. Third, is your relationship with the other female employee.

You need to communicate with your boss about your work. This would be more helpful than talking to co-workers and is the only thing that can make a difference. Set up time for a private meeting and tell him you’d like his advice and support. Explain that you were excited to be hired and want to know if he is happy with your work. Explain that you wonder about that because you have not been doing the work you thought you were hired to do.

Tell him specifically the tasks that you would like to do that have been assigned to others. Give him the opportunity to explain why and how your work has developed as it has. Make it clear that you want to do higher level work, starting as soon as possible.

Discuss your feelings about your work relationships as well. Ask if he has perspectives about the issues, as a way to see if he has noticed the same things or if he has thoughts. He may simply say not to worry about it, since often bosses are not very interested in whether employees feel included. However, it wouldn’t hurt to ask, as long as you do it in the spirit of wanting to fit in so you can accomplish more as part of the team.

It may be that you will benefit from focusing on your own work and simply being friendly and supportive to others. You can’t make people be your friends and worrying about it often is the very thing that drives people away. If you are well-liked or at least accepted, you will be invited to lunch (and apparently that happens) and will be part of office conversations. But you can’t win them all–and apparently the one other female employee is not going to be a good friend. At least though, you can aim to have a positive working relationship.

It’s too late to change things now, but you really should have never discussed her lack of promotion with her. You admit you don’t know why she isn’t promoted, and likely only increased her feelings of anger by saying she wasn’t being treated fairly. As you have found, she didn’t appreciate your sympathy!

She may very well be a popular employee with both co-workers and bosses. But popular doesn’t necessarily equate to higher-level skills. She may even have been put in charge while the boss was gone, but that may have been done for a variety of reasons. The key is that she can’t hire or fire you, promote you or permanently change your work. She had authority for only a short amount of time. If the boss is back, and you still aren’t being given work to the level you think you should be working, there is something more to it. That’s why it’s important to separate the issues of work assignments with work relationships.

I would suggest you maintain a friendly and courteous, smiling, helpful relationship with everyone. Don’t push it with anyone. Just let things happen. For your work development though, make things happen by talking to your boss. Volunteer for tasks, offer to help, ask for a challenge.

If those things don’t work, you may to consider seeking other work that allows you to do what you were hired to do, and that allows you to develop your resume further. This one seems to be simply a place to get a paycheck! You want more than that for yourself.

Best wishes as you try to enrich your work and your work relationships.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.