DEAR WALDMANS: I recently started a new job working for a storage facility. It is a different atmosphere than what I have worked in before. The office is small and the only other employee that works with me has a real attitude problem. At first, I thought maybe it was just my own uneasiness being in a new job. It is evident that a lot of people are threatened by new employees. Some have a fear that the new person has only been hired to take over their position.
Now, I have tried to be nice to this person and not be a pest. It is hard when you are new and never worked in this kind of business before. I don't want to aggravate her more than she already is, but how am I suppose to learn if she has such a bad attitude? I found out yesterday she went to the manager and told him I ask too many questions. How can I possibly handle this situation in a diplomatic way? I am not sure of the relationship between her and the manager. This kind of environment is not good, especially when I need this job and want to learn so badly. Please give me some advice before I am so exasperated that I walk out the door--I know that is not the answer to this problem. Please help me.
--ON MY LAST NERVE in Mississippi
DEAR ON YOUR LAST NERVE: First, can you be certain that you have not agitated this woman? Sometimes, it is very difficult to know how personalities will coordinate. Maybe it has not been enough time for the two of you to become suitable co-workers. As for her going to the manager, I agree that was inappropriate. She needs to approach you upfront with her concerns.
It seems evident that she is not willing or, perhaps, does not know how to confront the situation. Some people go straight to management with every little problem. If I were in your place, I would tell her I need to have a talk about the two of you working together. I would also be honest and let her know that you know she had gone to management about your style. Be very professional and calm. At this point, your nerves are over the edge, but arguing will not be advantageous to the circumstance.
This sounds to be a difficult chore on your part, but I think it is time to develop some kind of working relationship both of you can live with. After all, you probably will be working with this individual more hours of the day than you spend with your family. Try to develop an association that will be beneficial to both of you. Maybe, once you have addressed the problem, she will divulge the real reasons that she dislikes you. There could be something else that needs to be discussed.
It sounds like you feel that she resents your being there. A few good questions to ask yourself before trying to analyze the situation are: Has she always been the only person in the office? How long has she worked there? Are you younger and more aggressive than she is? Maybe she feels apprehensive about you taking over. There could be many reasons for this kind of reception to you. If you initiate a meeting of the minds and develop an understanding, I am sure you can work out a better relationship. Sometimes, however, there are times when personalities or people just never mesh. If this happens to be the case, you must make a decision. Will you be happy with this type of arrangement? Or will you be better off to look for another job? Finding the answers to some of the questions above will help you come to a conclusion.
A father-daughter team, the Waldmans are self-storage owners/operators and attorneys.
In addition, Ms. Waldman holds a master's degree in labor and employment law from
Georgetown University. The Waldmans are co-authors of the industry's leading series of
books on self-storage operations: Getting Started, Forms, Policies & Procedures and
South Carolina Tools. Another creation of Ask The Waldmans are their colorful posters
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WALDMANS may be sent to: The Waldmans, P.O. Box 21416, Charleston, SC 29413.
Views and opinions on legal matters are those of the authors. Professional counsel should be obtained before any determination or positive action is taken.