New Girl Driving Everyone Crazy

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a know-it-all: To make matters worse the boss called everyone in and told them they better get used to her because she is not going anywhere, but they might. Side note: The new hire is family of one of the boss’s dearest friends.

There is a new girl that started with our company that has stirred so much animosity among staff I’ve become concerned this is going to blow up big time. The problem I’m hearing from staff is that the individual is a “know-it-all” and comes across very pretentious. I have met her myself and she does have a strong personality and does tend to brag about her intelligence and behavior. Staff are complaining that she is telling their boss that they are not helping her even though they are.

To make matters worse the boss called everyone in and told them they better get used to her because she is not going anywhere, but they might. Side note: The new hire is family of one of the boss’s dearest friends. Employees are screaming bullying on her part and that she is causing a hostile work environment. How do you handle a situation like this when the person who should be working to resolve this is friends with the new employee? Our conflict resolution process states that issues such as this have to go through the chain of command and HR is only involved in issues that pertaining to illegal harassment, which I don’t believe this is. When I say a few staff are upset, I not talking two, I’m talking a department of 10. What advice can I give employees on how to handle this?

Signed, New Hire Big Pain

Dear New Hire Big Pain:

From your query, I assume you are employed in this ten-member department. Although you don’t describe specific instances in which this new woman has boasted of her intelligence, bullied, or complained that coworkers were not helping her, you appear emotionally frustrated by her behavior. It is not unusual to have a work group distressed by a new hire. Nor is it unusual for a new hire to complain that she/he is not getting help needed from coworkers.

Also it is not unusual for a supervisor/boss to bring a work group together and tell them that “they better get used to her because she is not going anywhere, but they might.” None of these actions is unusual because they do occur. And if you were boss, you too would have to: 1. Advise this new hire not to brag or complain

Or 2. Tell the work group to cooperate with her. So which of these options would you take if you were boss? Unless and until specific examples of failure to perform from any or all the staff is evident, what other options does a boss have, especially if it is true that the new hire is of the family of a dear friend? You add another factor to your story; that your policy book states that a complaint of matters such as this are to be resolved through the chain of command and not through HR. Can you speak for your coworkers who are unhappy about this new hire; can you be specific about her shortcomings performance and in bullying? If so, are you angry enough at her to confront her and learn if she is willing to correct what you say are her faults? Or are you willing to risk voicing these matters up the chain command without her knowing you are reporting her defects?

Can you answer a firm “yes” to either of these questions? If not what do you want to happen? Or whom do you want to work to resolve your complaint? Get my point? You can fume over, mumble about and gossip with others who are frustrated with the new hire or you have choices: · Treat her coolly and make her working life miserable. · Candidly confront her about her bullying and tattling. · Speak with her about the kind of co-operative working relationship you want and together work out the rules that can make both her and your contacts less frustrating and more satisfying. · Gossip behind her back about her misdeeds or bullying and wait it out until the boss addresses the matter by dealing with her or getting rid of some of you. · Take the problems with her up the chain of command, being as specific as you can. Before you take any of these options, ask yourself what you would coworkers to do if you were the one whom coworkers were frustrated about.

Also try this: Suppose for a moment that this 10-member work group were a women’s volleyball team and a new player was brought in by the coach. Suppose also that the new member bragged and complained that the other players were not helping her play to her best. What should the coach do? Keep her on the bench? Chew her out? Or should this coach call the team together and say, “You gals might not like each other or be friends, but if you want to win, you all better learn to play together. If you don’t more than one of you will have to go.” Would this coach be wrong to do that? I doubt you would condemn the coach for that kind of speech.

Teams and work groups inevitably have problems with some members, and these problems can make their play and/or work disagreeable UNLESS and UNTIL someone has the courage and resolve to confront what is preventing them from having a winning record. After every game a team and after every week of work a work group need to have a skull session in which all talk about what was going well and what needs correcting. Strong coaches/bosses see their jobs that way. And if they don’t, skull sessions only happen if some of the players/workers care enough to say, “Coach/Boss, we need skull sessions!” Will you weigh these thoughts? Will you talk them over with others in the ten-member work group? Will you let me know what does and doesn’t make sense to you? Often those who contact us are frustrated as are you and they hope we can resolve their unhappy situation or they think of writing as mere therapy.

The fact is that resolution of most situations, if any is possible, is close at hand; their hands and I predict it is near yours. I’m sure you know what I mean when I say working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. I hope to hear from you within a couple of weeks to learn what you do or don’t do. And whatever that might be, I want your working relationships to be meaningful, caring, and even in some ways delightful. Work is hard enough without the kind of frustrations you describe.

William Gorden