Career Advice

March 27, 2013

Q&A: My co-workers are complaining about me


Q: I was recently told by both my boss and human resources that people have been complaining about me. My co-workers say I act superior and try to oversee their work. Apparently, my genuine offers of assistance have been viewed as meddling.

Since I am the senior person in both age and experience, I try to help out when people have issues with their projects. My philosophy has always been, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.” I do have a strong personality, but I believe my suggestions are useful. What am I doing wrong?

A: This is a perfect example of perception creating reality. You see yourself as a helpful mentor to your younger colleagues, while they view you as a condescending monitor. To better understand this reaction, try to consider the situation from their point of view.

Your stated philosophy is to “let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.” But these co-workers did not come to you. Instead, you gave them unsolicited advice, which was interpreted as an implied criticism. Trying to make people “better”does not always make them “happier.”

Despite your positive intentions, you would be wise to take a different approach, especially since management is now involved. So instead of highlighting your senior status, just try to be a friendly member of the team. You do not supervise these folks, so you are under no obligation to improve them.

Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.

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