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Being assertive at work with colleague

(28 Posts)
colonelgoldfish Wed 10-May-17 17:40:51

My situation at work is that myself and another colleague who has newly graduated work together. I'm senior to her with a management role.

The trouble I'm having is that she doesn't treat me as senior to her. In fact quite the opposite. She steamrolls over everything I do and is massively competitive. She seems to take over everything and even things I've implemented she will take over and claim it as her own. This has resulted in it looking to our boss as if she does everything which is totally untrue. I work very hard at work and I do a lot of work behind the scenes to do the best I can. She has a much bigger focus on doing things that are on show to others.

I'm wondering if I'm the problem and need to be more assertive with her. On a personal level she's lovely but work wise she seems to be trying to belittle me and take over.

What tips can you give for dealing with this kind of colleague?

AlternativeTentacle Wed 10-May-17 18:00:05

Are you her manager?

Bebraveagain Wed 10-May-17 18:01:07

You definitely need to be more self promoting! In my experience, those that manage upwards, do best. Don't do things in the background - make sure you take the credit. I find this hard too, but in a busy work place, it's easy to go unnoticed. It's often the most capable people, that beaver away in the background.
Can you maintain a plan/schedule of activity and assign/record who's responsible. Keep a list of successes etc. Also speak to your colleague and set out your expecations in terms of reporting and conduct. I'll watch this thread with interest!

colonelgoldfish Wed 10-May-17 18:13:28

Alternative - I'm not her manager per say, but I'm in charge of the area we work in. I am also her mentor as she's in her first year.

It's in a school if that helps to set the scene a bit more. E.g. There's her (NQT), me (teacher and head of year/department) and then boss (head). That's not what it is but a similar set up. Only myself and NQT work very closely together in same room most of the time. I'm quite a relaxed person and I consider myself good at my job. She's very assertive and has a tendency to take over.

colonelgoldfish Wed 10-May-17 18:14:37

Be brave - I think you're right. I need to start focusing more effort on the things that are outwardly seen. Love the idea of a successes log as well!

AlternativeTentacle Wed 10-May-17 18:20:16

How does she manifest this taking over etc? You could come up with some 'busy fool' type work that will keep her busy, set her a meaningless challenge and you get on and do the proper stuff that is actually needed.

colonelgoldfish Wed 10-May-17 18:28:25

Well today I can think of a few incidences which prompted me to make this thread.

One was...
I'd starting planning a lovely event for later on in the term and was discussing it with another colleague. She came over and said 'what's this?' To which I floated the idea. She immediately jumped on it and said 'oh yes but we can change it to X, Y, Z...I'll talk to boss about it'. I replied, I need to talk to boss anyway to go over paperwork re the event so leave it to me (since it was my idea). But I know it's whoever gets there first, she won't listen.

Just lots of little things like that. Maybe I'm being petit but I'm finding lately it can take me from feeling really good and positive at work to feeling a little bit crap.

lickmylegs Wed 10-May-17 18:28:26

Am in exactly the same position!! Have worked my arse off all day - only for someone else to take the glory. My attitude is to think - it's only work. I will continue to be 'me' and uphold my values. These are the same values that I apply to my personal life and friends - and I know they are right!! The good WILL out. Just let her be 'her' - give her lots of praise!!! and have faith in yourself.

lickmylegs Wed 10-May-17 18:30:28

I'm a teacher too xxxxxx

lickmylegs Wed 10-May-17 18:33:23

She's learning - and some people find their security in thinking that they 'know it all'.

colonelgoldfish Wed 10-May-17 18:33:25

You are right lick - I need to try to remember that but it's really frustrating me. Sorry to hear you've had a similar experience.

Luckily I know I won't be working with her next year so I might just try to suck it up and have end of term in sight. But I want to be more assertive so I don't encounter this problem again.

lickmylegs Wed 10-May-17 18:34:03

Think she will learn a lot from you xx

lickmylegs Wed 10-May-17 18:35:05

Think teaching is a lot about working with different personalities - whether that's the children/or adults.

gandalf456 Wed 10-May-17 18:35:25

Could you not talk to your manager about it? Say something like she's a great worker, very keen, but maybe too enthusiastic to the point of trying to run etc etc ?

lickmylegs Wed 10-May-17 18:37:00

Focus on her positives and praise them!! She will love you more - just in the same way you would do for the children xx

lickmylegs Wed 10-May-17 18:38:12

Agree with Gandalf - and if your manager is a good manager - she will recognise that too xx

AlternativeTentacle Wed 10-May-17 18:39:40

She's a NQT and has time for all this extra stuff?

Crikey.

Can you not arrange for some extra observations/resources/activities that need careful paperwork sorting until the end of term?

colonelgoldfish Wed 10-May-17 18:44:05

Yes I think that's probably the way to go. Thanks for the advice.

Overall she's a nice person and I'd certainly see her outside of school (we've been for a drink on a few occasions and it's been lovely). I try to be kind to her and let her have and share her own ideas as she's an NQT and want her to feel creative and part of the team. We just have very different personalities in a work sense.

I think after a few things with her today I just came home feeing a bit negative, not helped by feeing under the weather. Positive pants back on!

I am going to look into techniques for assertiveness though.

lickmylegs Wed 10-May-17 18:53:55

You are nice, she is nice - but different. Let her input be as valid as your input. Respect her view, but respect your own view too. No-one is wrong, no-one is right. And if you work together positively - the children will get the best from you both xx

Siwdmae Wed 10-May-17 19:09:17

As her mentor, you need to be clear with her. I have an NQT who sounds similar but although she's lovely and very good at her job, she has rubbed other colleagues up the wrong way and has caused real problems by being overbearing and overriding more senior staff. I have done a lot of coaching with her and steered her out of situations which could have permanently damaged her relationship with others.

When she says things like 'I'll talk to the boss', very politely tell her no thanks, that you will do it as it's your idea. As a head of subject/year, I bet you can be assertive when you want. Don't let her take over and make it look like everything is her idea, you'll find yourself overlooked and not well thought of, especially if you're heading towards a threshold on the ladder.

Chelsea26 Wed 10-May-17 19:18:49

Sadly often the good will not always out - I spent years effectively running a department but quietly, without the title and the pay, thinking someone one day will notice that it's me doing all this. They didn't. It was only when I went on maternity and the place fell apart that they realised and I came back, looked at what had happened and thought fuck it! Told them they needed to put me in charge or I wasn't coming back and they did. And I've done well and now they're all saying "wow I can't believe you can do all this" and I'm a bit hmm

It still feels very uncomfortable to be pushy, it's not really my style but I've realised that the benefits outweigh feeling like a dick!

It's tricky because you want the relationship to survive. I think you need to be frank but not grumpy or defensive. So today for example when she said "I'll talk to the head about it" don't say "oh no I'm seeing him anyway" as that's you saying 'you don't need to I'll save you a job' instead you say "no, thanks though. I've already got half an hour with her this afternoon to discuss it. Obviously if I need your help I'll let you know because those suggestions were definitely worth considering."

And if she steamrolls you in class then after the class you say "that's not how I planned that lesson to go because we were meant to teach them xyz, your changes meant that we only taught them x and y. If you want to make changes can you discuss them with me first so we can make sure that we achieve our objectives?" (Obviously I'm paraphrasing here as I don't know how you construct lessons but the point is - well done for your enthusiasm but I'm more experienced than you so actually you're not as good at this job as me yet

Basically, if we're feeling kind, she's an over enthusiastic puppy that just needs reined in...

She also might be a back-stabbing bitch - if above doesn't work come back for advice on dealing with those grin

lickmylegs Wed 10-May-17 19:21:36

You might have to 'let it go'.

Butterymuffin Wed 10-May-17 19:27:03

Anne Dickson, A Woman In Your Own Right, is the book you want. Really good.

noego Wed 10-May-17 19:39:52

So float some crap idea's her way and let her run with them. Decoys as it were, meanwhile cultivate the good idea's and keep them to yourself.
Or save your creativity for meetings. if you don't have anything creative to say, push her forward as "*** will come up with something won't you, you are always creative" that would put her on the spot. But then 1 minute later you come up with the creative solution as though it just sprang into your mind inspirationally. smile
Of course if you don't want to play that game you can always keep your mouth shut in front of her regarding creative thought.

colonelgoldfish Wed 10-May-17 20:07:07

Thanks for such a great post Chelsea lots of fab points there.

Will definitely look up that book and read it over the next half term I think - thank you!

I don't want to deliberately trip her up or make her feel little, that's just not me. I think moulding MYSELF as a better leader in this situation is better than trying to knock her down.

What a challenge it is working so closely with others sometimes!

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