A distraught employee asked the Evil HR Lady at CBS MoneyWatch for help because her know-it-all, never-on-time co-worker is being considered for promotion. Which means the hapless letter writer may actually get to report to this slacker.
Focus on Self, Not Others
Best practices in the workplace are to focus on yourself and the quality of your own work. Eventually, any decent manager will notice that you are a valuable employee.
Not all managers are decent managers. For example, if the manager is friends with or for some reason seems to favor your lazy, good-for-nothing co-worker, you are not going to change that. Better to focus on the things you can control, such as the quality of your own work and behavior.
Employees who work for less than stellar managers do have the option of keeping their eyes open for other job opportunities. It may take a while, but is worth looking into if you are in a situation in which you are not being treated fairly.
Ask for What You Want
Even the best managers are unable to read minds. If you don't ask for what you want, don't expect to get it.
If your co-worker is being considered for a promotion that you want, try sitting down with your manager and letting her know you are interested in being considered for a promotion.
Have a fresh, updated copy of your resume on hand. Always focus on your accomplishments, not your job responsibilities. A list of responsibilities is boring and the same list may apply to many people. Instead, brag about what you do well. For example, "oversaw project" is boring. "I successfully led a group of four people on the X project. This experience proved my strong leadership skills," is much better and is specifically about you.
Be Careful About Tattling
In general, tattling on co-workers is a double-edged sword, and can end up hurting you more than anybody else. When you are upset about the obnoxious behavior of a co-worker, it may seem like the world is falling apart. Your boss, however, will likely see you as a whiner, a complainer, and a problem.
There are situations in which discussing a problem with management is necessary. Those times include safety violations and theft. Your co-worker coming in late, taking long breaks, and doing what may be shoddy work are not important enough to warrant tattling.
If you ever do feel the need to discuss issues regarding your co-workers with your boss, make sure you emphasize the behavior, not the person. Don't make it personal, and don't get emotional. Point out how it is adversely affecting the business, not how it makes you feel bad. Best practice is, if possible, to offer potential solutions to any problems you bring up with the boss.
Tell Us What You Think
Do you have questions about dealing with managers at your workplace? Ask PayScale's resident expert, Muneeb Bukhari at Nine to Strive.
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