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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
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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
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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
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ONe thing that bothers me about all the naswers is that no one suggested you talk to him first. How would you feel if someone companined about you to management and the first you heard there was a problem was from your boss. Most bosses will take you more seriously if you have tried to address it first with the other person. –  HLGEM Jul 31 at 14:58
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@HLGEM - I agree that someone should talk to him first but "He finds (makes up) excuses to everything when someone asks him to stop doing one of his particularly annoying habits..." maybe a personal conversation would be more constructive, but I think he has been warned. –  JeffO Aug 25 at 21:41

5 Answers 5

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.

Yes.

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 who is high-maintenance, or someone that can't deal with any stress. Instead, focus on the effects (both current and potential) on your 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. Discuss why you think that is. 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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  • He is quite disrespectful towards other employees

This is pretty common. When someone moves from a more casual workplace to a more formal one (or from no workplace at all, e.g. university), they don't necessarily understand what is considered disrespectful in the new context. If they're arrogant or unobservant then they won't pick up fast on what's rubbing people the wrong way. Yeah, yeah, "it should be obvious", "what he's saying is clearly inappropriate", all of that. What's obvious to you may not be obvious to him.

Somebody with authority over him needs to assess what he's doing. If it's not acceptable they need to inform him how he must change. If it is acceptable they need to inform you how you must change (stop interpreting it as disrespect). So yes, you should bring this to your manager, with clear examples of what you think is problematic.

  • acts weird

Merely the fact that something is unfamiliar or weird to you is usually not a good reason to forbid your colleagues from doing it. I'd keep quiet on this one, because in combination with your other complaints you don't want to make it look as if you're also trying to enforce your personal and subjective view of what's normal.

If he's "acting out", that is doing weird things solely to get attention, then that's a more concrete complaint. Firstly he's distracting the office, which is bad. Secondly there's probably some issue that's the root cause of why he feels he needs attention, so it's his manager's job to either get to the bottom of that (maybe he needs more support than he's getting) or else decide that it's not in the organisation's interest to try to solve it (maybe he needs more support than the organisation is prepared to give).

  • is entitled and has a huge ego

Having a huge ego usually isn't in itself an infraction. You need specific things that he does because of his ego, and that are infractions. For example, if he fails to follow instructions given to him by more experienced colleagues because he thinks he knows better, and he gets it wrong. Then raise with your manager the fact that he chose not to follow the instructions. Don't raise the fact that in your opinion he has an excessive ego.

Unfortunately, raising this kind of thing requires a period of evidence-gathering, and that requires contact. Therefore, approach the co-operation with the plan that you will mentor him, and part of the way you'll do that is to figure out exactly what he's doing wrong, and escalate those things to someone who has authority to tell him that his "excuses" are no good. And if that doesn't work, to go through the process to fire him.

  • normally I would just ignore such a colleague

For the sake of your own professional development, it would benefit you to work on this. You will encounter people who are arrogant, rude, weird, annoying or (in this case) all four. If you can do better than just ignoring them then you'll be a more effective employee because you have a new skill/ability that you don't have currently. If you trust your manager with the knowledge that this person aggravates you even beyond their concrete infractions, this is another good reason to raise it, since your manager has an interest in your professional development. Then you can come up together with a combined plan to (a) address your colleague's problems that need to be addressed, (b) address your difficulties in dealing with what remains.

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+1 for "you need specific things that he does". That goes for all issues - don't say "he is disrespectful", say "he has said X, Y and Z which sounds very disrespectful and causes disagreements and tensions". –  Jenny D Jul 31 at 9:42
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@JennyD: agreed. When complaining about a colleague you want to avoid what your colleague "is" as far as possible (because those are your assessments/summaries of what your colleague is like), and stick to what they "did" (since this relies for accuracy mostly on your ability to witness and report rather than interpret). –  Steve Jessop Jul 31 at 9:48

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.

I would say that you should, because if you mood is changing because of this and you said that others feel the same, than i would say it disrupts the whole concept of balanced work environment and it definitely leaves some kind of impact on your productivity and probably others too. If you don't see it it does not mean that is not there.

I can suggest that you go speak to co-workers about this problem. Ask them how would they feel if you would go to supervisor and talk about this problem in office. Do it kindly and with respect to other person. Because even if he is annoying and disrespectful he is still a person. And if you have normal management than this should go smoother than you think and the persons probably will learn his lesson. This will couse some impact towards you, but it mostly will balance out because there probably will be same amount who will think that you did the right thing and the same amount who did not.

So it really depends on you. if you can live with it and ignore his doing than just get over it, otherwise take the action. You can even benefit from this, as some of the other people who get annoyed by him will now look up to you and think that you are someone who can take action when needed.

You could also talk about this to the person himself, but i doubt that he will listen, if he is like what you describe him.

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