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Senior coordinator with new employee

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Question: I have been working as an HR and admin coordinator for more than a year and have been much appreciated for my dedication and commitment, to the extent that I am up for a promotion.

Recently, a new employee joined the company in the same position and, although I have gone out of my way to make her feel welcome and shared all my tips and so much of my experience, when I spoke to her regarding a small issue, she responded in a rude and loud manner. I tried to talk it over with her and make it work, but she continued shouting and acting obscene. I approached my manager about the new person’s behavior, but my manager told me that I have to be more polite, since I may have come across as rude to the new person, who is probably sensitive.

Hello!! I was the one being shouted at while trying to be diplomatic and polite!!

I need advice urgently because I would hate to ruin the relationship I have with my manager, and I also don’t want to be falling over myself to be nice. I am, after all, the senior one here!  -- Anonymous


I've seen this kind of behavior in new employees and it always amazes me. The good news is that most of the time they calm down and end up working out well. I suggest you give her space, don't offer to help, and wait it out. For some reason many people are on the defensive in a new job. For me, I always welcomed all the suggestions and help I could get when beginning at a new employer.

There is the chance that this is her way, however, and she may not come around. In that case, I'd be interested to see the responses from those who have had to deal with this type of person.


I have been in all three of the positions you described in your post.

I think I agree with your manager in that you might want to examine your approach. Your comment that you are the senior person seems to indicate that you believe the new person should follow your lead.

If you are truly just sharing your tips and insight, you are providing information and trusting that the new person has the skills and abilites to do their job and determine the best course of action for them. Systems that worked for you, may not work for this new person.

Yes, the new person was wrong to respond in such an unprofessional manner. However it sounds as if you may be providing a steady stream of unsolicited advice that you expect to be followed. The new person has every right to do their job in the best way they see fit as long as they aren't breaking any laws or violating any company policies. I suggest you allow the new person the opportunity to come and ask for your advice and help rather than constantly volunteering it. I would assume that the new person was hired because they had the basic skills to do the job and that the individual knows how to ask for help when needed.

I agree with Ulla. How do you know if you were coming across wrong? Maybe your manager suggested that was the problem because she has noticed this in you. You mentioned that you were the senior person, maybe you were displaying just a bit of arrogance because you've been there longer. The new employee shouldn't have gotten loud with you but put yourself in her shoes. You come to her to give her your "advice" on how she should do her job. I can see someone being a little offended, before she gets a chance to start she has someone riding her back telling her that their way is better. I'm not saying that's what you were doing but couldn't she have perceived it that way? Also, remember no one values your opinion and advice more than you do. Develop a relationship with her before you start advising her on how to do her job. She'll come to you when she feels comfortable.

Well said Tee.

Ask your coworker to lunch. Sometimes getting out of the office takes away the tension and lets people feel at ease. Use the opportunity to get to know the person so you can "walk in her shoes".

Hey, it was me asking for advice there- Not wanting to be a gripe, I have skipped many issues, but it seems the majority of people have misunderstood me - I was in fact TRAINING this person, which is why I was "offering" all the advice. The tips were just my way of helping out cos I wanted to be nice. Anyway, I think the remark from the unknown person saying "Well said Tee" is kind of rude, like rubbing it in, especially since I was misunderstood in the first place. What would have helped was some real advice instead of a note like that appreciating someone who is not there for that anyway. Give those words to the one who needs it, huh? Everyone else, thank you, especially Sandy, I think you got just what I meant.

Hey, it was me asking for advice there- Not wanting to be a gripe, I have skipped many issues, but it seems the majority of people have misunderstood me - I was in fact TRAINING this person, which is why I was "offering" all the advice. The tips were just my way of helping out cos I wanted to be nice. Anyway, I think the remark from the unknown person saying "Well said Tee" is kind of rude, like rubbing it in, especially since I was misunderstood in the first place. What would have helped was some real advice instead of a note like that appreciating someone who is not there for that anyway. Give those words to the one who needs it, huh? Everyone else, thank you, especially Sandy, I think you got just what I meant.

Rachel, at first I was not going to comment but then I decided that I needed to clarify a few things. First, you called the person who responded to my comment rude, yet that didn't stop you from being rude. Second you say, give those words to the ones who needs it. Correct me if I'm wrong but you did post a question for other people's advice. You seem to have gotten offended by my comments and others for no reason. Don't know if this is because you are frustrated with your new co-worker or not but I've read everyone's comments and no one's comments seem to misunderstand you. I think that everyone's comments were good as usual. People throw different ideas out so that you can look at your situation from different viewpoints. No one is accusing you or blaming you. You don't know this woman so don't jump to conclusions so quickly. For instance, have you thought about just asking her if you said something that was offensive? My third reason for responding is because I've seen this happen so many times. When people don't know you or you don't act the way that they expect you to, they feel as though you have a problem. You said you were training her and that's why you were giving her advice. Its still advice regardless of why you were giving it. Of course she shouldn't have gotten loud with you but maybe she was offended. I don't know her race or yours but I do know that I've noticed that when minority women don't "act" or behave the way non minority women think they should they get labled as having an attitude or being difficult. As a minority woman I've seen this happen so many times. I'm not saying this is your case but because I know a lot of minorities I see and hear about it alot so I always try to look at things from that standpoint. Sometimes it helps to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Regardless of race, you should try to see other people's viewpoint instead of getting upset (you seemed a little upset in your comment).

Give her enough rope and she will hang herself.

Ok Tee, point noted. I appreciate you taking the trouble to clarify, and if I may do so too, I did not mean to say everyone misunderstood me. What I meant is, a lot of people did not see my advice being offered as a training process, but as me throwing it around and trying to show off my experience, which I totally did not agree with, and that's what I tried to counter.
I do appreciate everyone's contribution, in case that is in doubt.
I will surely be back with more issues, but maybe I will remain anonymous next time (lol)

I know it is difficult to train new employees. You never know how they will react. The same thing happened to me a few years ago and my manager thought it was my fault. I was very hurt because I am kind to everyone and I treat everyone with respect (and my manager was well aware of this).
What I later found out was that this employee kissed up to my manager so much, it explained why she didn't believe me.

But, like most lies, they eventually come out in the open. I stuck with it and continued to be professional and kind to her (although she treated me like crap) and she got away with many absences and coming in late to work. But, in a few months, she showed her true personality to my manager.

She quit her job within 6 months because she was no longer getting special treatment.
Be patient and continue your kind professionalism with this new employee. Eventually, they will experience for themselves the way she really is.

I am responding to Rachael's statement that she is in fact providing training to the new person.

Even with this information, there's not enough for me to go on to say yes the other person is incompetent. The following are questions that I've had to ask myself in a similar situation they can be uncomfortable to answer but may give you some insight as to what's going on with the new person. What outcomes does the new person need to accomplish? Am I training this person on outcomes needed or on my process? Am I providing this person with the tools to solve problems they will run up against independently or giving them a list of detailed instructions to accomplish their tasks? Do I give the new person the opportunity to fail and learn from their mistakes? (Not because I want them to fail, but because I want them to have enough space to do their job.) Do I give the new person the opportunity to succeed without my help? Have I learned anything from the new person? (If not, that means that I am not really listening to them.) If you are satisfied with the answers to these questions, then you may have a real issue, but if any of them make you say, "Well...", you should reexamine your own behavior.

You say the new person came into your company with the same position that you presently have. You are senior to her only because you have been there longer. You want to have the most positive, most successful training of the person and you want to make here good enough at the job so you can get your promotion. Chill out & treat her as if she were the diamond instead of the lump of coal. And above all, do not complain about her personality to the boss. The boss doesn't want to hear it & you will be perceived to be a whiner, and this will have a negative effect on you efforts to be promoted. If the new person can't do the work, that's another issue. Perhaps you could put all you tips & suggestions into a desk manual that she could refer to; she'll get the training & you won't have to spend negative energy on her.

First, when I said "Well Said Tee.", It was because I agreed with what Tee said and wanted to let Tee know that. It was not meant to be rude to you. I apologize if you took my comment in that manner.

Second, how is anyone supposed to give you advice about the situation if you don't provide all the facts, specifically the fact that you are "TRAINING" this person, or that you don't even give a description of what the "Small Issue" was that you spoke to your new co-worker about.

I'm confused as to exactly what you are intending for us to say. The gist that I get from this, is that you want us to side with you and tell you that you were wronged and are perfectly justified in feeling offended.

I think you should have provided more info about the specific incident and less about your being appreciated for youre dedication/committment to the company, in order for us to provide you with advice that actually pertains to your situation and that could possibly be of true help.

I agree with Ulla and Tee above. Perceptions are more powerful than intentions. In communication, these too must be balanced...and before they can be balanced equally, you must take the time to learn this person..their personality, characteristics..etc. Until you've had a time to feel out this new employee, be "available" for advice. Time will pass, and you will develop a better understanding of this person all the way around. As I read your reply to comments posted, that proves that your "perception" of what they were trying to say was not as they intended. And the snappy points you make, and anger you display really only confirms and strengthens what you've told us your supervisor suggested. It may be that you have a dominate personality, and the new person does as well and will not sit back and go for it. If this is the case, I can say that I have been in the new employee's shoes..and when I stood up to it, the training I was receiving slacked off. worked out to my benefit, because I was forced to research, learn and self train..and to make a long story short, that "old timer" is still where they were when I started, and I've since been promoted to 4 different jobs, in 3 different states and am now at the HQ level..writing the instructions and training documents that this "old timer" is using to do her job. Point is..evaluate yourself, put yourself in the shoes of someone on the receiving end of your training, then ask yourself..what can "I" change. Seniority isn't something simply means you've been in the job longer. Don't let your attitude hold you back.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Hopper July 13, 2009 at 4:30 pm

I am in this same situation right now….new person has been here 2 months. She was hired without being interviewed by anyone and I am told we are on the same level. I have been here for over a year. This person is rude to everyone. I have gotten comments about her rudeness from many people. She is very curt and unfriendly when answering the phone. I was training her on our system (which is rather complicated) and she would not take notes. I showed her how to complete a task on this system then asked her to try one while I sat near. She would not refer to the manual, she did not provide necessary information, used the incorrect codes, etc. I tried to speak to my boss about this but was yelled at and told it was my fault and that I expected too much from her after such a short time. I am not trying to have her do things “my way”; however, there is a certain procedure that has to be followed for our system and she does not do it. She has incorrectly sent invoices and other items to the wrong place, some of which have been filled out incorrectly. She does not speak to me all day and we sit across from each other. She refuses to ask questions if she does not understand something. I go home every night VERY frustrated at the situation. But at the end of the day, there is nothing I can do about it. I am trying to “kill her with kindness” and acting professionally toward her even though I do not get the same courtesy. Hang in there……….her true colors will eventually surface (at least I hope so for both of us!)


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