I’ve been working for about 9 years since graduation. In the 9 years, I’ve worked in 5 different offices. Starting a new job can be very exciting. A new job usually means more responsibilities, exciting new work, new office environment, new people and (hopefully) an increase in salary!
Of the 5 offices where I’ve worked, one office left me scarred with a negative experience of working with female colleagues. It was my first job out of school; and this woman was cold and unfriendly towards me despite my efforts to be friendly. I remember when I met her for the first time. I extended my hand to her for a handshake. She looked at me without a smile, looked down at my hand, and made some kind of disinterested effort to shake my hand. She treated me this way for about 6 months. It was an unpleasant environment to work in. My boss at that time revealed to me that she was threatened by me, and as a result she resented me. I left after 6 months and moved onto other firms that were more friendly and social.
I had another negative experience with another female colleague. The dot-com bubble burst and I was laid off due to the lack of work coming into the office. Luckily, I was able to find another job. I had joined a medium sized firm. At the interview, it was explained to me that I would be replacing a woman who was due for maternity leave.
Again, on my first day when I was introduced to the mother-to-be, I was received with cold indifference. In fact, I got an initial vibe that she resented me. She ignored me and didn’t want to be bothered with me. She did not like me. I wondered if I had done something to offend her. In fact, I played situations in my head of approaching her and asking her if I had offended her because I noticed she was going out of her way to ignore me. But I never confronted her about it. I decided that she was leaving soon and then I would not have to deal with her for a long time. Eventually she left the office to give birth to a baby girl and decided not to return after her maternity leave. Good riddance.
Now in 2008 after having joined this current firm, I have yet another negative colleague experience to share with you. But this time, I understood where the negative vibe was coming from.
When I accepted the position, I knew that I was going to handle the construction administration of an apartment renovation project. What I didn’t know, and didn’t find out until my first day was that the client specifically requested the project manager already handling the project not continue with C.A. portion of the project. Not only that but my boss hadn’t even told the PM that he was not going to do the C.A.
After I settled into my temporary desk space and familiarized myself with the project, I dived into apartment renovation project, and that was when the resentment started. The PM was not pleased with my involvement in “his” project. He was kind of reluctant to get things done in a timely manner , or responding to my questions regarding the history and status of outstanding items. We even issued separate responses to the same comments when it should have come from one person. And the PM would forward information a little too hastily without reviewing with the boss or myself, or obtain a solution and thus, adding to the already tarnished image of the firm’s inability to manage this renovation project.
It was frustrating for me because I was stepping into a project and role that was not defined as being this chaotic, design revision, organization, follow-up, manage the general contractor project. And if my boss expected me to handle the C.A., then we needed resolve the issue of point of communication. Frustrated and not wanting to find myself in more situations where I am wasting my time putting out fires the PM inadvertently created, I sent two emails to my boss about resolving the conflicting roles.
When I didn’t get a response from my boss and the PM’s attitude didn’t change, I asked my boss about it. Apparently he didn’t see the emails I sent. I was annoyed, and disappointed.
Well, the first week came and went. I had the weekend to think over my situation. I decided to wait until the end of Monday and see if anything happens. If not, I seriously considered leaving.
On Monday, I got an email from boss responding to one of the emails I had sent that he apparently did not see. We eventually met and discussed my concerns. He came up with a solution of taking the PM off the apartment renovation project by putting him on another project. That way I could continue with the construction administration.
I was very pleased with the thoughtful solution. It didn’t allow room for any unnecessary unpleasantness.