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A new colleague was hired at my department 3 months ago. He is quite disrespectful towards other employees since the first day, acts weird, has no experience and no actual work results, but is entitled and has a huge ego. He finds (makes up) excuses to everything when someone asks him to stop doing one of his particularly annoying habits (he has several...). I have found out that all of my other colleagues find him annoying and disrespectful as well, but I'm not sure if the management knows about this.

Now normally I would just ignore such a colleague. But we have to work on an important project together, talk every day, and the management expects me to help him if he's stuck on a task. I've told my managers that I'll do it if I must, but I don't like mentoring. I didn't tell them the real reason, since the whole team was present at this meeting.

Should I approach my supervisor face-to-face, and tell him that I wouldn't like to work with the new colleague? The issue doesn't really affect my work performance right now, but it certainly stresses me out, and it greatly affects my mood and the workplace.

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Can you elaborate on "acts weird"? Out of all the reasons you list, only the disrespectfulness towards others is something that I deem an actual problem an sich, the others (like work results) will manifest themselves when superiors notice he's not producing adequate results. –  Jeroen Vannevel Apr 3 at 11:48
By careful about saying you don't like mentoring when you really don't want to mentor this particular mentee. Mentoring colleagues will be expected from you at some point, and it can even be fun and help your career along. Don't build a reputation as a non-mentor over this colleague. It's not worth it. Address this specific case with your supervisor, as @JoeStrazzere suggests. –  Stephan Kolassa Apr 3 at 12:11
Maybe he doesn't know he is acting this way - go out for lunch with him and tell him that. He might not even know and might get his act together! –  Jimbo Apr 7 at 11:05

3 Answers 3

Should I approach my supervisor face-to-face, and tell him that I wouldn't like to work with the new colleague? The issue doesn't really affect my work performance right now, but it certainly stresses me out, and it greatly affects my mood and the workplace.


Anything in your workplace that might cause issues is a fair point of discussion between you and your supervisor. The fact that you find this stressful is relevant, but it shouldn't be the main focus of your conversation. Work is sometimes stressful - and you don't want to be seen as someone that can't deal with any stress. Instead, focus on the effects (both current and potential) on the work and the project.

Speak with your supervisor individually, not in front of a group. Keep your discussion professional - try not to dig too deeply into the specific annoying habits. Just try to convey that you are uncomfortable mentoring this particular individual and that your personalities seem to clash. Ask if there is something you could do differently that could give this project a better chance of success than you are seeing now.

Be prepared to answer whatever questions your supervisor might have, but don't offer any more details that you must.

Listen to your supervisor's response. Be prepared to follow the approach your supervisor suggests as best you can. Don't assume that your supervisor will immediately (or ever) take you off of the mentoring role. Try to work together to make this work, rather than push for making it go away.

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Be careful, but also honest.

Most likely your supervisor already knows what has been going on in the office but it is possible they do not. If you approach your supervisor alone and during a time when they can be focused you will get the best results.

Be professional, do not jump directly to saying you do not want to work with your coworker, simply explain that you are troubled by some of your coworker's interactions and would like advice on mentoring them. You will do three things by doing this

  1. You will let your supervisor know that there is a problem.
  2. You will show that you are happy to get your supervisor's advice on how to better mentor others.
  3. Most likely the advice they provide will be helpful, either in this case or dealing with other coworkers.

As for your coworker not pulling their weight, the bottom line is if they do not contribute anything for very long they will be let go. Especially since they are new and are still proving themselves.

It may be that your coworker is unsure of themselves and really do need good mentoring, attempting to help by showing them good will and teaching them what they need to know to do a good job can pay off with them engaging and becoming a better employee (this will get your supervisor's attention).

If they are still unappreciative/disrespectful then simply limit yourself to cool and professional directions, if they are not followed report directly to your supervisor.

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You have the right to a workplace that is free of the kind of distraction/entertainment that your new colleague is providing through his behavior. Your employer is most likely in sync with you in terms of wanting to provide such a workplace, too. At this point, the only thing that seems to prevent both of you from getting what you want is your not telling the management about the new colleague and the productivity killing diversion that he provides.

You need to set up an appointment with your supervisor and talk about it. Be prepared to be very specific about the new colleague's actions and behavior, as in much more specific than you were in your post. We are talking "succinct incident description", "time", "place", "him", "you", "witnesses" and "what it is about the incident that upset you". If more of you speak up and you all speak with one voice, it's all the more effective. Because it's not just you.

My assessment is that your new colleague, as he is right now, is not a good fit for your team and most probably, for your entire firm as well. He is disruptive, and not in a good way. IMO, his behavior and actions, if sufficiently documented, are sufficiently egregious to lead to dismissal. Of course, the cat's claws did not come out during the interviews - they never do. The cat's claws came out after the first day on the job. You need to make the cat retract its claws.

I don't think you should have told the boss that you don't like to do mentoring since it's not the real reason - You are misleading the boss here and this new colleague is making you into a liar on top of his other exploits. Come clean with the real reason ASAP. Personally, I would have said to the boss in front of the group that there are a couple of issues about the mentoring that I need to discuss offline with him.

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