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Difficult Colleague in Biotech Work Environment - What to Do?

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Difficult Colleague in Biotech Work Environment - What to Do?

Postby Louis R. » Thu Nov 11, 2004 12:24 pm

Like many others who read this forum, I work in the biotechnology business. Presently, I am experiencing a problem. One of my "colleagues" has been working against me and I am not certain how to react.

What would you suggest that I do. This person constantly belittles my ideas in team meetings, or takes my ideas and twists them around a bit so that they can be his ideas. And the boss actually buys into that -- not seeing what is happening! This guy is driving me crazy and it appears that I am on the losing side of this "company politics." I left academia because I wanted to eliminate politics from my life in science. Not working out that way.

Louis
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Difficult Colleague in Biotech Work Environment - What to Do?

Postby Rob » Thu Nov 11, 2004 12:30 pm

Politics is everywhere, please remember that.

Try and be very constructive in the \"group setting\" and add to what your colleague is saying. It will help make you look like the team player you need to be. If your colleague is as you say, not a true team player, it may begin to be obvious to the other members of the group based on how he/she responds to your suggestions. Try this a few times, but only in a constructive and synergistic team-oriented manner. If all else fails, seek out advice from a more senior member of your team.
Rob
 

Difficult Colleague in Biotech Work Environment - What to Do?

Postby John Fetzer » Thu Nov 11, 2004 2:57 pm

Timely, as I have an article in press about bad people and some ways to deal with them.

Your colleague more than likely is not and has not done this just to you. So you probably have other, silent allies who cannot speak up for fear of looking confrontational, a non-team player, and even ego-centric.

As posted, be constructive. Do not confront him in a meeting or directly. Do not go to your boss and rant or whine about it. Compliment this person if his twist adds value, as in a thanks for taking your idea to a better level.

Try and understand if this is personal (unlikely) or just his insecure style. Maybe he might be nicer and less bad if you can structure him into being a pseudo mentor. Ask for his opinions on issues or ideas, without giving him the important ones that he can steal.

Listen and pay attention to understand his motivations and ways of doing this. That will give you ideas on counter-measures.

John
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Difficult Colleague in Biotech Work Environment - What to Do?

Postby Kim » Thu Nov 11, 2004 4:25 pm

Have you talked over this issue with the HR person(s) in your company?
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Difficult Colleague in Biotech Work Environment - What to Do?

Postby John_Mastro » Sat Nov 13, 2004 5:16 pm

Im pretty sure talking to HR people is totally inapproptiate avenue.
John_Mastro
 

Difficult Colleague in Biotech Work Environment - What to Do?

Postby Dave Jensen » Sat Nov 13, 2004 5:30 pm

I agree with John M., as it may complicate the situation further and bring it to the attention of management. Personally, I'd try and work on it with some of the above excellent advice from others, and then only after it is deemed unsolveable would I go to H/R.

Dave
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Difficult Colleague in Biotech Work Environment - What to Do?

Postby K Seth » Mon Nov 15, 2004 4:14 pm

Probably it is annual review time. Not bringing your problematic colleague into picture, ask your supervisor to give his/her feedback about you- as a scientist, as well as a team-player, and if he/she has any constructive suggestions how you could improve it. Follow those suggestions. Try to improve your relationship with your managers and higher ups so that gradually you can eliminate your bothersome colleague from picture (of your mind). I'm certain next year will be a good and productive year for you.
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Difficult Colleague in Biotech Work Environment - What to Do?

Postby Allen S. » Tue Nov 16, 2004 4:28 am

Ah, and I also thought a change in career would take me away from insecure and immature colleagues to a more intellectual environment....
Me: Lead Diagnostics Technician to Supervision (same career change as a difficult counterpart on opposing shift). As mentioned by author in this forum: Insecure. Some people seem to feed on analytical thinkers as a shortcut in their career. I'm sure this behavior is learned early in life. A common mistake (also mentioned) is to react with tension or agression. Better to react with pitty, this person doesn't have a clue and must mimic the reason of others. It is sometimes difficult to see the value in such personalities, but sometimes you can hear a collection of wisdom from others in them if you are careful and logical. In my experience, people like this have pretty good memories (though somewhat lazy and hollow in and of themselves). Try to use that to your advantage if you can find an avenue, sort of like using any other defective storage device. Offer little, inquire often.
Best of luck. I envy you for following your dream, even so.
Allen S.
 

Difficult Colleague in Biotech Work Environment - What to Do?

Postby Gregg » Tue Nov 16, 2004 10:04 am

These are simply things everyone in a startup or tough environment should do. Document everything. Everything you do positive, be sure to mention in a very brief email to your boss. Print that email to paper and keep it in a notebook in a page protector. Keep a day planner where you religiously log every meeting, contact, phone call, every event. Do not delete your emails but back them up to disk every few months. Don't complain but don't be shy, go around and talk to people in a genuinely friendly way, gather intelligence. HR won't do anything - they are there to protect the company. And remember, this person may have powerful allies who like having a toady around. Also, it is very likely that the person you dislike actually spies for management.
Gregg
 

Difficult Colleague in Biotech Work Environment - What to Do?

Postby John_Mastro » Tue Nov 16, 2004 11:06 am

I think Gregg has offered the best proactive advice. If you have any need to go to management or protect your job or go to court, then it is necessary to keep the records he describes and remember you are playing a role in your job, so play the role carefully, keep your cards close to your vest. Hopefully things will not escalate to the point where you need to take these measures, where your personal stress level will be elevated. If at all possible try to kiss and makeup with your enemy. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
John_Mastro
 


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