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I work in accounting with the most hated employee in the whole company...
I have put up with her for five years, and have never had a confrontation with her. I listen to her complain all the time, as well as putting other employees down for no apparent reason. I can't really assess what her real problem is, but most people think she is just unhappy with her homelife and she brings it everywhere she goes. Now mind you I have to listen to this day in and day out, while the others can just leave the room. I have mentioned this to the president before, asking if I could be separate from her. I even told him her negativity was so bad that I would work in the kitchen! I just want to get my work done. Well, as you can guess, nothing was done.
So more years went by and I put up with it, not saying a word. So I came up with a plan. I asked if I could move to sales while still doing my job and learning sales. Well, of course accounting and financial stuff should not be with sales. So that didn't work.
Then, I was going to learn how to be the controller (which I was very excited about!) and move right outside the controller's office until I learned the job and then move in. We currently do not have a controller, we have contracted a CPA for the time being. Well, the president thought about this (HIS IDEA) and I guess he got scared of this employee's reaction. I was not scared, I could have cared less.
So now, I am staying, she is getting the nice windowed office, and I have to work with the weirdo CPA on days that he is here. Don't know when this will start, but soon I guess. I know I got what I wanted, but I feel like I never get rewarded. I feel like he was just scared of what her reaction was going to be, so he felt like he would be better off moving her into the nice office. Am I wrong to feel this way? Should I just be happy that I don't have to listen to it? I feel that this will wrong the rest of the employees as well. Does someone like her deserve this? Just because she bullies everyone she gets the nice office? Hmm...what's a girl to do.
a Girl to do?
a Girl to do?,
Often when we find ourselves in situations of conflict or poor working relationships we begin by looking for solutions. This seems to be the approach that you and your president have taken. Moving to sales won't work, moving to the kitchen won't work, becoming controller won't work, but finally the opportunity to move your co-worker to another office arises. When the solution is implemented it turns out that things are not that much better.
Another approach, more difficult initially but more likely to produce a longer term solution that people are happy with, is to explore the underlying reason for the problem. You have given some thought to why this employee is difficult, but it appears there has been no effort to approach her and try to find out what the problem really is. Only after the reason for the disharmony between you and this woman is identified and addressed is there likely to be a solution discovered that will be satisfying.
As you point out, you did get what you were asking for. The trouble is it has not resolved your own feelings of animosity toward this woman. Those feelings seem to be bubbling over to infect your relationship with the contract C.P.A. whom you call a 'weirdo' although you have not yet begun to work with him/her.
If you want to be happier in the workplace you need to do something to lance the boil of resentment that you are carrying. If there is a human resources person I would suggest you talk to them. If there is an employee assistance program providing counselling and advice I urge you to contact them.
In the more likely event that it is the president alone who can address these issues I suggest that you make an appointment to meet with him and tell him that you have some concerns about employee working relationships within the firm. Ask him to consider retaining a professional to work with the employees to build better working relationships. You might tell him that it has been difficult to work with this woman and you find that even though she has been moved to a separate office you don't feel that the situation has been resolved entirely.
If the president is not willing to provide some leadership in this area your other option is to approach this woman directly and try to build a better relationship with her. I have counseled employees in similar situations to go out to lunch together. Often it is best to set aside all workplace issues and try to get to know the person. The idea is not necessarily to become her confidant or best friend, but to build a relationship that acknowledges her humanity and yours. Too often in workplace relationships we treat one another like impersonal cogs in a machine. Some people respond to that depersonalization by acting out angrily in an unconscious effort to elicit a human response from their co-workers. That response may be anger or fear or something else that is not appropriate to the workplace, but at least it is human. At least it makes us feel alive and not like a robot.
If it feels too difficult to approach this particular fellow employee you may have to simply accept that you now work separately from her and will have to leave the matter there. I would, however, urge you to consider how you approach the C.P.A. when he starts. If you carry your attitude that he is a 'weirdo' into the relationship from the outset, you are likely to end up working next to someone with whom you do not get along again.
I wish you well in dealing with these issues.
Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.
Dr. John Burton
Burton LL.B. M.B.A. M.Div. Ph.D. is an ethicist, mediator, lawyer
and theologian whose passion is helping people and organizations create
better relationships and stronger communities by being clear, committed
and collaborative in their approach to ethics and conflict. John is
currently located in Prince Rupert, B.C., Canada, working with Canada's
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