Workgroup and Boss Exclude Me

Question:

I am finding it hard to fit in with co-workers in my department. There are seven of us, including our boss.

Our boss seems to favor four in the department. These four socialize alot with the boss and each other. They protect each other from upper management. They do not follow basic policies (Internet usage, smoke breaks, excessive talking, phone calls and possibly adjusting extended lunch breaks to show only an hour was taken.)

I really enjoy my job there and am considered a hard worker. I believe I am respected by other departments for my hard work and dedication to getting projects done on time. I sit right in the middle of my immediate department and feel uncomfortable with the clique they created and that my boss is deeply involved with.

A few times a week they will spend hours discussing and planning what to get for lunch and not even invite me.

The seventh persom in the department is not involved at all with the department. He sits far away from all of us, so he doesn’t really hear and see what I do. He also chooses to sit far away so he doesn’ “have to deal with them” as he puts it.

I have earbuds to listen to music or whatever to tune it out, but am still feeling uncomfortable with this situation. Any advice is much appreciated.

Signed,

Left Out


Answer:

Dear Left Out:

It seems to me that the last thing you would want to do would be part of that group! Whether they ever get caught at their misdeeds or not, you don’t want to be aligned with them.

If they are treating you in a way that keeps you from being effective in your work, you should discuss that with your supervisor, even if he is a friend of theirs. But, if the main thing is that they don’t include you in their plans, consider this: They know you will not go along with extended lunch hours, lying about time, taking excessive breaks, etc. etc., so they may think they are doing you a favor by not even asking. Or, they may feel you would put a damper on their good times–and you probably would.

Instead of being part of their more social activities, maybe you could make an effort to get them more involved with work activities. At least you could make a point of asking their thoughts on some work related topic or their assistance with work of some kind. That way you would be engaging them in something you both should have in common–work.

As for your boss, think of him as separate from the group, which he should be. Talk to him about work related matters at first. If it’s appropriate ask him about his family or his travel plans or vacations or whatever seems non-intrusive. Let him see you as someone who is friendly just as those in the group are, while still putting your emphasis on work.

Keep in mind though that you may simply need to stay focused on work and be content with a cordial but not close relationship with others in your group. That is more likely to make you happy than if you were part of the group and being lumped with their reputations for poor work ethics.

Best wishes to you as you come to terms with this challenging situation. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe