When we join the workforce, no matter what career path, industry or company we work in, we will inevitably face people at work who do not wish us success. This animosity may come from coworkers on our team, managers on other teams that we work with, or even people in leadership positions above us.
People act selfish and become difficult to deal with for many reasons. But if you are a high performer and plan to make some impacts on your organization, most people who act this way towards you usually do it for just a few reasons. Jealousy and complacency are probably the most common ones.
I joined my new company with the expectation that I was going to lead some cool new initiatives and help reshape some of the day-to-day that my team does. Most of the team that I joined had already been together for a few years and had established a pretty well-oiled machine for managing our part of the business. I had recently completed my MBA, and I was ready to lead some new projects that would help our company grow. When I started working at my new company, most of my team was very comfortable and content with how things were operating.
If you have an MBA, then you know damn well, that MBA grads consider “comfortable” and “content” atmospheres to be evil. All MBA graduates were brainwashed to think that all organizations like this go nowhere.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few things that I have learned:
- Find out who the key people are to work with on making those accomplishments a reality. Focus on building strong relationships with them early on.
Sometimes a co-worker or even someone on another team has a lot more influence than you might realize. If someone has the ear of higher-ups or has been there for a while, then this person might be crucial to you accomplishing your goals. Get to know their work style professionally, and who they are personally. Focus early on how you can help them to achieve more so you can get them on your side.
- Come ready to suggest some new ideas; but, be sure your self-awareness is tuned in.
Absolutely suggest ideas. But when you do, listen intently to the responses. Notice facial reactions, non-verbal communication, and be receptive to things that maybe you aren’t familiar with yet.
You may find that people are not willing to take your ideas seriously simply because you have not proven yourself yet.
- Be patient and give it time, but not too much time.
You may have to go along with the old flow for a while. During this time, get to know why certain business practices are the way they are and take note about how they may be able to change. When an opening finally presents itself for you to suggest some ideas that have a chance at thriving, go for it. Make sure your ideas are well thought-out at that point.
Once you have been in a role for a good six months, you should start to feel like part of the team, and should have the ability to stick your neck out and make an impact.
Unfortunately, around that time I still felt a sense of animosity from some of my teammates, and I wished that I had taken some of these steps early on.
If you find yourself in this position, this might be the time to be a little more aggressive. If your foe is starting to hold you back, maybe suggest new job opportunities for them. At this point, if you feel that you can’t accomplish your goals with them in the way, then figure out how to (legally and ethically) get them out of the way. According to Barack Obama, and recently quoted by a high-school valedictorian in Kentucky: “You should always fight for a seat at the head of the table.” This might be your time to do just that.
Make sure you have taken the steps listed above and get as many people on your side as possible. If you do this, you will have a much better opportunity to succeed and not be hindered by difficult people.