Beware the green-eyed monster: Dealing with jealousy at work
Believe it or not, some of your colleagues may not be happy with your new promotion. (Shutterstock)
A new promotion can be thrilling for you, your family and many of your coworkers who appreciate your experience and abilities. For some coworkers, this news may not be welcome, however. It could be because they wanted the promotion, they don’t like that they will report to you, or simply don’t see you as the right fit.
All of that is not uncommon. In almost every situation where people move positions higher or sideways, there are always clashing opinions. The tension created around a promotion may create a lot of stress for you in your new role as well as your team.
Is there a way to avoid this? Probably not, but you can always learn how to handle it with grace with tact. Here are a few points to deal with people who are not happy with your promotion.
Put matters in perspective
Someone who isn’t happy is totally different from someone who is trying to sabotage you. If the person is just unpleased because he or she thought the promotion was not deserved or had their own eyes on it, that doesn’t really raise to the level of threat. You should in fact be respectful of this person’s feelings. After all, if there was any sort of competition between you and this person, you could have been in their shoes.
In the case when the person is taking actual steps to stop your promotion, turn people against you, or spread negative vibes, you will need to take action. This action is certainly far from confrontation. You can bring the issue to the attention of HR or the decision maker behind the promotion. Just remember to avoid personal attacks, rumours and gossip. Just state the facts that you are certain of, explain why you’re concerned about the consequences of this activity and leave it there.
The more you appear to be confident, the more likely you will be perceived worthy of the promotion. You never want to begin a new job or a take a new role while you’re involved in tiffs around the office. So simply take the high road, always.
Address the problem
Again, you will have to avoid confrontations for as long as possible. But if the issue persists and if the person reports to you now, you may choose to have a calm, logical conversation with this person after some time lapses. That becomes particularly critical if you feel that this person’s actions and emotions are getting in the way of having his or her full cooperation.
You may try to work out a script before you approach this person to avoid getting into personal attacks. For example, make sure that you state incidents when work was not done as expected or ungrounded questioning of your authority was made publicly. Try to avoid being emotional while you ask for explanation. You also will need to know how you will exit the conversation if the person becomes disrespectful or combative.
Based on your expectations, you could enlist someone from HR or higher management to attend this meeting along. But remember this may be perceived as an alarming escalation that puts this person on the defensive and make things worse. In fact, a more casual environment — going out of lunch or coffee — can help both of you be more relaxed.
Similar to any other meeting, break the ice and try to mention some positive aspects of what is going on first to help ease the conversation naturally into the more tough patches.
Let it go
It is important that you consciously let this issue go whether it has been addressed or it faded away. In many cases, people who are initially upset about someone’s promotion come to terms with the reality on their own. If their initial reaction is held against them, it can turn into a grudge that complicates matters even further.
Again, give them time and room to sort things out for themselves, and if their negativity is not resonating with others or hurting the work flow or productivity, let it run its course. In the meantime, focus on your new role and show everyone who you totally deserve it.
By Rania Oteify