Apr 14, 2015

    I don't want to be seen as an annoying senior colleague

    DEAR Troubleshooter,

    I'm a female employee in my 20s, and I've been told by my superior at work to instruct my junior colleagues strictly, which is a problem for me.

    I usually try to listen sincerely to my junior colleagues and praise them as much as I can. Because of that, it seems I'm recognised by them as a senior colleague who is easy to talk to. My ideal self-image is that of "a senior colleague who is usually kind but sometimes strict". But things aren't going well.

    When I asked my superior for advice, I was told: "Don't be seen as a doormat by your junior colleagues. Don't talk to them so indirectly. It doesn't work. It's important that you be strict with them."

    I understand what my superior said, but don't feel like behaving that way. After hearing the superior's words, I felt as if my efforts of listening to my junior colleagues carefully weren't appreciated at all and, instead, my ability to lead was under fire. It made me feel empty.

    I don't want my junior colleagues to regard me as an annoying senior colleague. It's probably because I've worked with so many annoying senior colleagues, but have had no opportunity to work with a senior colleague I can look up to. Please help me.

    Dear Ms U,

    Let me start off by sharing an anecdote: At a nursing care facility for the aged, the staff have stopped asking residents admitted to the facility if the meals that they served taste good. Instead, the staff members have started dining together with the aged while saying, "This tastes great, doesn't it?" to one another. The staff members' relationships with the aged changed drastically for the better.

    It seems you are forcibly trying to act as a superior with your junior colleagues, which does not suit you. You probably feel happier when working hard on what you are assigned to do. That happy, exciting feeling can certainly be felt by your junior colleagues who work around you.

    It's important for you to let them learn from seeing how you work sincerely, not order them around or scold them. To do so, you must shine. You have no time to worry about how to deal with them.

    Stop thinking how you should "coach" them. Instead, rack your brain to create a workplace in which you all can enjoy working together.

    In general, when coaching somebody, it always builds hierarchical relations. This inevitably develops into a power relationship.

    Instead, why not show them how you can enjoy working well and how you are sincere at work, without cutting corners? It's the quickest, most effective way to deal with them as their senior worker.


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