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How to tell your bossy colleague you’re not their employee?

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you were taking orders from more than one person? Even though you had one manager who was actually your manager, there was a colleague who acted as if they were your manager as well? Sometimes, we have all felt like we’re working for our colleagues, instead of with them.

Address the issue

What is very important in those situations is that you address the issue. No one can read your mind and if you are not speaking up, how are people supposed to know something is bothering you?

Working in a team is great. It can be very rewarding. However, working in a team has a whole set of challenges. The biggest challenges are setting up and maintaining equality and achieving a fair level of collegiality. This can sometimes be abused by more assertive team members.

Most often, these team members are senior employees, but not even in the sense they are seasoned, but in the sense that they have been with a company just a few months longer than you have. It can get tricky, especially if this person was your trainer when you first came to the company. Nonetheless, you have to talk to them and address the issue. And don’t back down.

Different ways of addressing the issue
You need to keep in mind the type of person you're having a problem with.

First, you have to approach the person in question, no matter who it is. See if you can resolve it without going straight to the management. Think carefully about the issues and list any points of action before you start the conversation with the bossy co-worker. It would be great if you could practice approaching that colleague with a family member or a friend. They could give you valuable insight and predict the reactions of the bossy colleague. Also, and help you in getting your points across.

It is possible that this person has shown zero interest in an open conversation in the past. In that case, try and find out if there’s someone else who’s feeling the same as you do. If you identify such a person, definitely talk to them and find out for sure. Two heads are always better than one! If you approach the person, share your concerns, and present your action points, and nothing changes, then you need to take it to the management.

Maybe there are weekly meetings to check up on the team. That’s your chance to stay behind and start the conversation with your manager. If you feel uncomfortable saying openly what is the issue, try and see if you can become a part of a different team – it doesn’t hurt to ask.

However, we would always recommend you face problems head-on and just go for it.

For more tips and tricks on work environment and other career-related topics, browse our Blog page.

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