A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Great Performance, Bad Attitude
Dear Sue: About a year ago I was given a great deal of added
responsibility in my department. As a result, the reporting structure
changed and my coworkers now report to me. This has caused some resentment
among my coworkers, especially with one particular girl. She has made life
for me very stressful because of her negative, challenging behavior toward
me since the change.
When my boss was made aware of this, I was told to document her
behavior and fire her if she did not become more team spirited. The
problem is that it is very difficult for me to put my finger on her
destructive ways. Her work performance is excellent and she is very
well-behaved in front of my bosses. What they donít see is the way she
rolls her eyes, pouts and sighs dramatically. I am sure she acts this way
out of jealousy in part, because she wanted my job.
How do I deal with this? They are aware of the problem, but how can I
document a bad attitude or fire her when her performance is so stellar?
Sue Says: There are a number of issues you are dealing with. One
is the fact that you feel this coworkerís behavior toward you is personal
and due to jealousy, another is that you say she is making your life
miserable, and the other is that you donít know how to deal with her
because her performance is top notch. It is fairly common for someone to
excel in one area and need improvement in another.
Ultimately, if the positive attributes of someone outweigh the
negative, then working to change or improve the negative traits becomes a
viable option. If the negative attributes overshadow the positive and the
person simply isnít contributing enough or worth investing in, then their
job may be in jeopardy.
An important question for you to answer is whether this is her problem
or yours. She does excellent work, and is perceived well by everyone
except you. If no one else sees what you see, or has a problem with her,
then the more you complain, the more you risk becoming a problem to
I donít doubt she is acting out of jealousy and targeting you, however,
rather than simply documenting everything she does and looking for ways to
fire her, why not try to find a way to overcome this obstacle? If this is
the one person you have a problem with, why not view it (or her) as a
challenge and an area to work on? Firing someone who has a stellar
performance is neither easy nor a positive reflection on you.
You asked for my opinion so I will give it to you; at this point in
time, I think that the best way for you to deal with this situation is to
rise above it. You are too new in this position to do anything too
drastic. There are a number of things you can do; if you havenít already,
talk with her and try to get to the root of her jealousy. Forget about
changing her attitude toward you, and work on changing your attitude
toward her. Focus on all the great people you work with, and less on her.
Try to ignore her sighs and comments or laugh them off.
Although you have been given the authority to fire your coworker, it is
not something you should do in haste or for the wrong reasons. Think about
your legacy and your reputation -- what do you want to be known for Ė
getting rid of difficult people or stepping up to the challenge of working
If you let everyone who has an attitude determine your actions, you
will never be true to yourself. Be who you want to be; set the standard
you want others to follow by being a positive role model. When you
encounter problems with someone and know that you have done all you can to
rectify a problem, it will be much easier for you to decide what to do and
to justify the action you take. At this point, you havenít done all you
can with this coworker and therefore are having difficulty writing her up
or firing her Ė youíve got some work to do and time will tell what happens
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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