Work Cliques..Is This High School All Over Again?
Q: I’ve been having some work related stress. I was thrilled to become a manager at my company, but had no idea what this responsibility would lead to. A few of my coworkers are either related to the other manager or friends with her. They all usually work the same shift. It is super frustrating when I come in and nothing has been done. I have tried talking to her, but she justifies their behavior and it feels like I’m talking to a wall. The GM is responsive, but he is rarely there and wants everyone to like him, so he says things in a sugar coated way, so that his “talks” are useless. Whenever her group-I guess I will refer to them-work my shift, I feel like they don’t respect me or take me seriously, even though I’m their manager, too. At times they will completely ignore me or not acknowledge me. In the past when I’ve talked to the GM, things will be fine for a while, but then I feel like I end up always having to check in and remind them to do their job. My team and I are always picking up their slack, while the other group does the bare minimum. I’m at my breaking point. They think they’re the shit and it is so annoying. I tell myself that in a few years I will have my masters degree and I will go on to get a better job, while they will probably still be working here. It sounds really mean to think that, but that’s how I make myself feel better. Is that bad?
A: Cliques were awful in HS and they’re just as annoying as an adult. I wrote a post about dealing with these mean girls, but your perspective will be different as a manager. Your work environment sounds super frustrating and understandably so if your employees are not respecting your authority as a manager. Some are getting preferential treatment, which isn’t fair. I would definitely voice your concerns to the GM once again. Even if he sugar coats it, it’s HIS job and duty to manage the team as a whole. Is there a system in place for performance reviews, consequences, rewards or anything that may motivate “the unmotivated crew”?
What about taking a proactive approach and suggesting a team building activity/meeting to talk openly about how to improve the work environment and collaborating as a team? Honest communication can be encouraged for the first half, allowing people to voice their frustrations, but it’s very important that the second half of the meeting be solution focused. Perhaps, an expert or coach could be brought in to help as an outside, objective mediator to lead a workshop? If your manager is not on board with, you could even plan a monthly birthday celebration, potluck or happy hour after work to boost team morale.
Before you want to slap me, hear me out–Have you tried to get to know them on a personal level? Being friendly, making small talk, showing an interest in their lives may help you build a bond. It will be much harder for them to totally disregard what you’re saying if they start warming up to you. AKA Positive reinforcement