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Insights: How to Manage a Junior Co-worker Who Isn't a Team Player

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Question

Submitted by: WISE NYC Metro member | 6-15 years professional experience

What's the best way to manage a junior co-worker who is not a team player and constantly displays a superior attitude toward others, including senior team members? Our boss is supportive of this person and isn't aware of this behavior.

Answer

You haven't mentioned whether your colleagues have noticed this behavior or if only you have, but chances are this behavior is being noticed by more than just your co-workers. Behavior like this rarely goes unnoticed in companies.

If you have a good working relationship with your junior co-worker, you might consider taking her/him out to lunch and, with some fresh examples of where this behavior has played out, raise it directly. I usually would approach it by saying, "I'm not sure if you realize how you come across sometimes but..." and then lay out what you have observed and see where the conversation goes. It could be s/he is struggling with work and just not managing responses well.

If that does not work then you might want to consider raising this with your boss — again using very clear and specific examples of how this behavior is causing issues in the team and in particular your ability to get things done. You might find your boss is open to this conversation. Of course, they might disagree but if they can see that this behavior is causing problems in the team — in particular with the ability to get things done — it should prompt them to act because ultimately it will impact them as well. Refrain from making this a personal matter (e.g. saying things like "s/he is mean"). Providing clear examples or words said and behavior that makes others not want to work with the junior colleague should be enough for them to act.

Jane Hollman

About Jane Hollman

Jane Hollman has more than 25 years experience in senior human resources roles at large multinationals and sports across Asia Pacific and the United States. Currently a career coach, she helps business leaders and university students think through their career paths. Hollman is passionate about creating flexible, innovative work places and mentors women looking to start their own businesses. She is also a freelance writer covering the business of sports for publications such as Women Talking Sports.

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