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Help, My Team Stinks!


By Bonnie Johnson,


You’ve landed your ideal job at a reputable employer, doing exactly what you wanted, with great pay and benefits. What could go wrong?


Your coworkers, colleagues, office mates, comrades, fellow employees, associates, or peers (in other words, the PEOPLE) may cause you to think, “Help, my team stinks!” Well, not literally smelly, it’s just that they’re not fun, not inclusive or supportive, don’t pull their weight, or they’re just downright rude. What do you do?


Know What You’re Getting Into

Help prevent the problem in the first place by making sure you meet coworkers before you accept the job offer. You’ll interview with a manager, but sometimes they’ll bring other employees into the interview. If you’ve made it to the second interview and they still don’t introduce you to potential colleagues, don’t be afraid to ask!


For my first full-time job after university, I interviewed with the marketing director, who indicated I’d be working closely with another marketing associate. When it got to the second interview and I still hadn’t met the other associate, I asked if I could! They brought her in immediately, we had a delightful conversation, and soon after they offered me the job. I knew from my interaction that we’d get along great, so it helped me make my decision and a provided a smooth transition into the workplace.


Gossip Bias

When starting a job, don’t let other employees cloud your perception. Stay away from company gossip or water-cooler talk. Just because someone else doesn’t get along with “Jane” doesn’t mean you won’t. Don’t stir the pot by adding your impressions to the conversation, as you’re only encouraging coworkers to share complaints with you. If you’re constantly fed complaints about peers, you’ll begin to believe them. What’s fueling your dislike?         


Discuss Directly

If you’re repeatedly conflicting with coworkers over an extended period, address it directly with them first before you go to a supervisor. Initially, try to get to know them, understand their goals, and their role in the organization. This alone may give you the insight you need to create a stronger working relationship.


If you can’t seem to get past the differences, discuss the conflicts directly with the colleague(s). This is an important first step to resolve conflict before going straight to a supervisor and risking the tattletale stigma. Complaining directly to a manager before trying to solve the issue with the fellow employee can damage coworkers’ relationships for the duration of employment.   


Up the Ladder

Give it time. If the struggle continues with no improvement, it may be time to speak with your supervisor or human resources. Sometimes an outside perspective is all that’s needed to resolve a conflict. If the situation isn’t changing, consider transferring to a different department or location if possible. If you can’t stand to work another day with your fellow employees, start searching for other opportunities on before you make a hasty exit!