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My colleague and I have the same boss. My colleague gets inside information from my boss before the information gets to me (which is relevant to my projects and some additional information which is not relevant to my projects directly but is relevant to our unit/organization etc.) and he is sort of boastful about this. He shares with me some of the info but I am sure he will suppress info which will impact him/his projects. (for e.g. he might try to grab any resources available in my unit for his projects whom I am also trying to get into my project etc.)

My boss and my colleague went to same colleges in their earlier life and have worked together in a long, tough project earlier. This colleague hence has more rapport with my boss.

What irks me is the boastful nature of this colleague who almost mocks me that I will not get any inside information before he gets it.

How do I deal with this situation?

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up vote 16 down vote accepted

In general, a leader should be very careful of the way he disseminates information. A leader should inform parties directly involved first. The fact that your boss is providing your colleague with information related to your projects, before he gives it to you directly, is troubling.

The source of the information is your boss, not your colleague and this is why you should focus your attention on your boss. All in all, managing up will help you in this situation and other similar situations in the future.

This being said, there are a couple of concrete actions you can take to remediate this situation:

  • You could start by building a stronger working relationship with your boss and have conversation with him on a regular basis. This will allow you to get faster access to the bits of information that are necessary to do your job.

  • You could ask your boss questions about the information that your colleague provided and that you think should have come directly to you. In this instance, be careful to not appear defensive. You boss may have made a mistake and some bosses are quite sensitive when you bring up things they may need to do differently.

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this is certainly a good approach in situations where the manager would respond overly defensively to a simple direct converstaion. – GuyM Dec 1 '12 at 9:17

One of the things I find hardest as a line manager is to ensure that I treat all of my direct reports equally and fairly; or to be more specific, that I don't inadvertantly favour those that I have the best rapport with on a personal level when it comes to their professional status.

Where I work (NZ) there are actually significant legal implications if an employee can show that they have been disadvantaged because of personal (as opposed to professional) relationships, which makes this more than simply good management practice.

Outside of this framework, the best approach is to make your manager aware of the situation; from their perspective they may just be using a direct report as a "sounding board" for ideas, which I know is one of my failings.

I tend to favour the direct and honest approach.

If, in general, you trust and respect your bosses leadership/management skills, then simply finding the time to discuss with him that, from time-to-time, you can feel professionally disadvantaged because of the close working relationship he has with the other staff members maybe all that it takes to bring about a correction.

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@Chad - Agreed. I feel David's answer covered this approach very well, especially the "managing up" reference. At one point I accidently created an "us and them" culture in the team by recruiting peopel who were very much like me, personality wise. We got on well, and so by contrast I found others in the team more of a challenge to work with. All resolved now with some modified actions on my part and more diverse recruitment, but for a while it was tough going. – GuyM Dec 4 '12 at 18:13
@Philip - that's where the "managing up" ideas in David's answer are important. Some organisations do have a culture where management is something you do "to" people, and not "for" people. I subscribe to the "leader as coach" philosophy, partially as a result of the training I have had. – GuyM Dec 5 '12 at 22:42

Sounds to me you and your colleague are in direct competition and he feels threatened by you as obviously you do by him. In this situation I would suggest getting your colleague on side. Find something you have in common where you are not competing but backing each other up, then maybe he will begin to share instead of hide.

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now what do you want.? the information.? or you want that jackass to not get the information.?

either way you are helpless. you cant tell your boss to not share any information with that colleague and also asking your boss to share the same information with you also will not help you much.

  • However there is always a better option IGNORANCE, have you tried one yet.? pretending that you are not even bothered with that.

  • When your boss asks you about something that you were told by that colleague, then you might response

Yes, michael told me about that.

It will surely convey the boss that the information is being leaked and if it is sensitive enough, you might get some positive results.

  • try discussing it with HR, if it is so severe. but it is not always preferred to be a good option, first try solving it at your end.
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Really? You would involved HR right away? – David Segonds Dec 1 '12 at 8:59
have you seen, i have mentioned its not always preferred to be the best option. try solving it at your end first. – Sahil Mahajan Mj Dec 1 '12 at 9:01
@seeknew - I'm not suprised these suggestions did not deliver the outcome you are looking for. Using confrontational or passive/agressive responses can sometimes deliver a short-term outcome, but longer term are both "win/lose" approaches as opposed to "win/win"; unless you intend to move on in your career frequently, I suggest that building long-term win-win relationships is key to achieving your profesional gaols. – GuyM Dec 1 '12 at 23:07

Be very careful how you deal with a matter like this, you never know the full story and you may be getting things wrong based on what your colleague is telling you, you may even be seen as divisive if you act against the situation. So what you must not do is react when he taunts you, keep your communication very clear and work related. I was in a similar situation that went very wrong

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Ignore the boasting. Your collegue is probably feeding off your signs of irritation. Also, let him know you intend to go to the other boss for clarification if it affects your projects. If there are serious implications because of withholding information, the boss may break this bad habbit. Worse thing that can happen, your collegue stops bothering you. If he still boasts that he knows "something" but won't tell you, I would still go to the boss for clarification. These kids need to grow up.

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In contrast to GuyM, I suggest to not pursue any direct confrontation. From my experience that makes things just worse because it puts your colleague and your boss into defense. I rather recommend something different.

Try not to compete with your colleagues when they want a certain field/project for themselves, just let them. After all, you can anyway only speculate what the true reasoning for their behavior is - and the boss' obvious support for that. In fact it may even be possible that your colleague is really enthusiastic about the things he/she knows first. How do you know?

Rather try to do your own thing. Wait for opportunities in which you can seriously and honestly consult your colleague to improve your project. After all your colleague certainly has some sort expertise that may be really helpful to you. He/she might this even see that as a compliment.

Later on you may see, how your colleague will truly support you, maybe also in other occasions. The best part is: as your colleague is one of the best buddies of your boss, your boss will follow.

You just need some patience.

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