16

Two coworkers and I have been selected to attend a training program. This will be in a different country with colleagues from across the globe.

My team is newly set with 7 members and all of them are settling into their jobs. Top management has cited cost constraints as a reason for not selecting others. However, other colleagues are displeased with the decision, since we all have the same job profile and travel opportunities are very rare in our team.

Being a new team, this comes at a time when everyone was starting to get along. Now, the unhappy colleagues have formed their own rebel gang and relationships are not the same as before.

One employee in particular is constantly spreading negativity in the team.

How can I improve the team situation?

  • 1
    I've edited your question in an effort to make it easier to understand. If've changed the meaning or in any other undesirable way, please feel free to edit it yourself or rollback the changes. – GreenMatt May 31 '13 at 18:19
  • 3
    The people who didn't get to go are taking it out on those who did, instead of complaining to the people who made the decisions? You may have more than one type of dysfunction going on, in that case. – Monica Cellio May 31 '13 at 19:25
10

Talk to your boss's / the people making the decision.

Explain that the decision has caused a divide in the team.

Ask if other people will be able to attend once the budget is bigger. People don't like being left behind in their careers, so it's important to make it look like they aren't being forgotten.

But that's something your boss's will have to tackle, the choice about who goes isn't yours to make, so the fault is not yours either.

There are, however, a few things you personally can do to make sure you aren't causing this negativity to stick around.

1. Don't rub it in

I'ts important to remember not to rub it in, don't constantly bring up who is and isn't going. It will, obviously, make the situation worse.

It's also important to realize that constantly bringing up how unfair it is, even if you are trying to side with them, will seem like you are being condescending, I strongly recommend avoiding that as a topic of discussion completely.

2. Don't isolate them, don't isolate yourselves

Sure maybe there is a bit of friction between you at the moment, but sitting in two separate groups at lunch or at other social gatherings your work may have will only perpetuate the divide. Be sure to mingle, be sure to be part of the team.

3. If asked, don't engage

If people do try to engage you in this type of discussion, then say that the decision is not yours to make, and that they should, kindly, direct all of their questions to the bosses.

This may seem a little cold at first, but really it's making sure you don't get yourself dragged into a discussion that turns into an argument. Engaging in this type of discussion is likely to make things worse

4. Where possibble continue with your job

Congratulations, on being good enough at your job that the bosses want to pick you as someone to spend their, limited!, money on to train up some more. It's a good thing to have happen in your career. And whilst you may not agree with their decision you would be silly to try and throw it away by arguing and not working as hard as you have been up until now.

  • 1
    Love this answer. This is a time when the first un-equal big choice just happened. Over time, there will be others and the team will hopefully realize that not everyone does everything, but it all balances out in the end... in the meantime, as one of the privileged people, be as decent a team mate as you can and let it ride. – bethlakshmi Jun 6 '13 at 13:44
10

Be careful about trying to solve this problem yourself. Those team members that are upset that you were chosen instead of them are not likely to view your motives as altruistic. The reality is that this is a common occurrence in the current economy, sending the whole team for training can be prohibitively expensive and there will always be someone who feels left out. If you don't have authority to make a change, which it sounds like you do not, your efforts may be viewed as empty words/gestures and actually run the risk of making things worse.

Management has created this problem and management needs to solve it. They need to make it clear that it was a financial decision and help people understand the criteria for selection. It could be seniority, demonstrated skills, or random selection. All of these can be fine as long as other team members understand when their opportunity might come.

2

How you can improve the situation depends on your role in the team. Is this your team, as in you're a team lead or manager? Or are you "just" a team member who, in the eyes of those who didn't get selected, just got lucky?

Are all of these people newly hired, or was the team formed by internal restructuring? Some of your coworkers may have a legitimate gripe based on seniority, if they've been at the company for 10 years and got passed over in favor of someone relatively wet behind the ears. If everyone was hired at roughly the same time, but someone might have more industry experience than someone who's going, they again might resent this opportunity being given to a relative newbie in the rat race. On the other hand, that may be exactly why these people were chosen for this "training"; they need it more. They're less knowledgeable, less well-connected to their peers, and so would get more than a free trip out of this opportunity.

If you don't have disciplinary authority over your coworkers, then this isn't your problem and doesn't require your efforts to improve it. You owe your coworkers nothing but the effort towards the team and its goals for which you are compensated with your salary, and anything you try to give them as a consolation will either be viewed as woefully inadequate compared to a free trip out of the country, or it will enable them; they'll expect these "kickbacks" any time a benefit is given to you (even if it's more fairly distributed). You certainly won't repair any honest friendships (and any honest friendships would survive something like this anyway).

If you have the authority to hire/fire, or at least issue directives that the team must follow, then this is your problem. You are being accused of favoritism (even if it wasn't your decision, as their "boss" you're the most visible proxy of the higher-ups who did), and even if any decision that could have been made would be no more or less fair than this one, the point remains that it's a benefit seen to be unevenly applied across the team. How you can correct this imbalance depends on your resources and those of your company. If you're in the U.S., it's baseball season; does your company have access to a box at the local field, to which you could give out some free tickets to a game? Is there a trade convention scheduled a little closer to home (or maybe further, like Vegas) in the near future that some of the members who missed out this time could attend? At the very least, maybe there's some "manager-approved time off" in order, for which you'd look the other way if it didn't make it into their pay period reporting. Now, I'm not advocating maliciously breaking any company rules, or acting in open defiance of any decision made by a higher-up, but if you have the responsibility for smoothing this over, then by the same token you generally have the authority to make the rules, at least as far as they apply to your team.

1

Is there a way for the colleagues that aren't traveling to have something they can do that could be shared with the team that may be just as important in the end? I'd think the key here is to try to make things even in the sense that while you and others get this training, others can do their own study of something and then everyone shares their results in the end.

  • 1
    Hey JB, I think this does get folks going in the right direction (+1) -- it gets them thinking about the problem if nothing else. If you have any ideas for what the colleagues could do, that would be awesome! :) For instance, I might add that they could maybe attend some of the presentations remotely through Google Hangouts or something. I attended a Google I/O presentation in this manner; it wasn't the same as being there, but it was cool nonetheless. :) Hope this helps! – jmort253 Jun 6 '13 at 3:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.