Question: I at times have to work with a coworker who makes me feel uncomfortable in what may seem an odd way. She always calls me out on things I do that my normal shift partner does not comment on or say is actually wrong. She questions some things I do, and I have to say I didn’t feel comfortable doing whatever it was for whatever reason, and I always feel like I do something wrong.
Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a coworker who changes her/his written work.
How do you deal with a colleague who edits your report so much it does not look like your writing anymore?
Signed, I Stand Corrected
Dear I Stand Corrected:
From here, it is impossible for me to know why your coworker has access to and edits your reports. Your use of the term “colleague” implies that this person isn’t your superior, yet editing is that part of her/his job description. Are you working on projects together and “your report” is in fact a joint report? Or is the colleague assertive and coerces you to submit what you will report for her/his review before finally submitting it? From the little you’ve sent about the nature of your work and because I can’t see what has been corrected in a report, there is no way for me to ascertain if the editing is justified.
Possibly, the editing might make your report better and thereby prevent you from being criticized for its style or adequacy. Send a more complete description of what prompts this inquiry should you want a more informed opinion from the workplace doctors. I will assume your colleague is not your superior. You have to choose whether to simply bite your tongue or to confer with her/him about the process and/or substance of what is corrected. Should you object to the process; of your report being changed without your consent; you will need to confront that colleague.
If you don’t want Dan (or whatever is the colleague’s name) to edit, you can deal with it at the moment he attempts to do so. In a private, firm way, say, “Dan, this is supposed to be my report. I know you want to be helpful, but I want this to reflect my work, not yours.” Or if you don’t want to cut off his help completely, you can say, “Dan, I like you to scan my reports and I welcome your suggestions but I want to do the editing.”
Probably you need to schedule a “time out” session with him to hammer out do and don’t rules for when and if he should see, edit, approve of, or have input to your reports. Apparently, you have not confronted him about that. But if that is already an established matter and he has authority to edit, your confrontation with him must deal with substance and style as well as when and how much editing and who’s words are contained in the final report. I gather you object the fact that he changes the substance and style of your work. In this case it, you and he are like coworkers in a newspaper who want the best for your readers. Your conversation will then entail issues of rhetoric of a specific report; who does its first, subsequent, and final draft, who is to get a particular report, its informative and or political purpose, what information should be included/excluded, and its protocols and traditions.
Substance and style can’t be separate; eloquence vs. plainness and even grammar are up for debate. In short, you and your colleague must work out rules for when, what and why of a collaborative process. Can you argue about these matters? How do you deal with “my words” being changed? Who has final say? So far I gather you have not talked about how you work together. Working through answers to these questions probably will take courage and persistence.
A one fix-it session is likely only a start at working out what is acceptable to you and Dan. Focus on the end product; the purpose of the report its internal and external customers. Remember that getting to reports that add value to your work organization are not just a matter of ego; working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. If any of these thoughts apply to your situation, I will be interested in what you decide to do to find a working relationship with your colleague that pleases you both.
Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about one leader reporting on another: What does one do with this type of information?
I have checked the archives, and didn’t see this question asked yet. I’d really appreciate your advice. I supervise two senior employees, who lead two teams. The senior employees need to work together, and both report to me directly. Team Lead 2 has brought to my attention that Team Lead 1 has instructed Team 1 members not to discuss with Team 2 anything that Team Lead 1 tells Team 1, even though these teams must work together. It appears that Team Lead 2 thinks that Team Lead 1 is not being up front, not being cooperative, not being a team player, and could be saying false things about Team Lead 2. I asked why Team Lead 2 told me these things, and what action he wanted me to take. He said just “thought I should know.” What does one do with this type of information? Thank you very much.
Signed, Supervisor Of Two Leads
Dear Supervisor Of Two Leads:
Competition inevitably emerges when work groups meet separately. Some of the early research regarding cooperation and competition conducted in a camp for young boys found that even good friends become enemies when they were assigned to different teams. Efforts to party together did not overcome that antagonism provoked by being assigned to separate teams. It took an overarching goal and benefit that could not be achieved separately to ameliorate the dislike that team competition had generated, such as not being able to move a stuck truck bring water to the camp without all pushing and pulling and to only being able to rent a film when money was pooled from all teams.
In your case, the two team leaders and their members, it seems have fallen into a competitive attitude. It has become “we” and “they”, not we together. The fact that your two teams meet and work separately means that they have taken on that an “us” and “them.” Communication tends to be in-group and not with the out-group. Since one lead has informed you of this, you must determine whether it will break a confidence to frankly speak to the other lead about this and/or to have a three-way confrontation to resolve and smooth over the rumored conflict.That might not be the way you want to handle this information.
The larger challenge for you as supervisor of these senior leads is to find an overarching benefit and consequence to cooperation. What can the two teams only achieve by cooperation? That might be putting together different pieces to a puzzle or project. Or it might mean a bonus if they can jointly do a quality improvement proposal/project for your division. Or it might mean engaging the two leads in an on-going report to you about ways their two teams are working together to achieve an assigned goal. If and when you make it clear that you are not happy unless and until you see evidence of genuine inter-team effort, pleasing you that way will then become the overarching goal.
So put on your thinking cap. Ask why you want cooperation. What can only be achieved if the team leads work together? I have worked across an 18-month period developing plant-wide team building committed to quality improvement projects; the overarching goal was to survive and not be shut down. In this economic climate, that is a worthy goal and your leads should be made aware of how their teams working together is needed to make that happen. Might it not be smart to ignite frequent inter-lead and inter-group communication? Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Can you be the champion of that? Will you keep me posted?