How to recover when coworkers avoid your bad mojo

By Scot Herrick | Cube Rules Commentary

Jun 30

The workplace has been tough the last two years. You’ve come through to the other side and now, honestly, just need to kick back a little bit. But this is a dangerous time and no one is out of the woods at work just yet.

6 signs your job may be in jeopardy

Anita Bruzzese knows that the workplace hasn’t recovered just yet and she has provided a thoughtful post about how to tell if your job may be in jeopardy. I especially liked the last three that are social. After all, business is really social in that we work with other people:

4. You receive a resounding “no” to most of your ideas. The boss looks like he’s going to laugh out loud whenever you request funds for a project. You’re losing power faster than Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
5. You’re often the last to know of what’s going on in your own office. Decisions are made regarding your job and you’re clueless until the last minute. Not being in the information loop is a dangerous place to be.
6. Invitations from colleagues for lunch or coffee dry up. Co-workers may have caught clues that you’re in trouble with the boss, and they don’t want to be tainted by your bad mojo.

You get these clues, but how do you verify them to figure out if you are in trouble?

The three steps to recover

This is all about communication. You have to do some talking, but you really need to be listening to what is being said and how it is being said. Who do you need to speak with?

  • Your boss. No way around this one. If you are good with your manager, there is a lot of protection for your work. But if you are not, managers have many ways of sabotaging your work. They can give the plum assignments to someone else, turn down requests for your help to others or nastier stuff like give you unattainable goals. Your manager is your most important customer.
  • Your coworkers. Despite the fact they are “too busy,” you need to get a sense of why you are out of the loop or not getting those nice coffee invitations. Get with a few of your coworkers and sincerely ask what is up since you are feeling shut out.
  • Your stakeholders. Stakeholders are those that are affected by your work, but don’t directly receive your work output like your customers do. But stakeholders are very interested in what you do because what you do impacts their customers as well. Talking with stakeholders will help you see the picture from outside of your work bubble.

The important part is to intently listen to what is said and how it is said.

The three pitfalls

You can’t just go and talk with these people, though. If you don’t do this right, you can make your situation even worse. Here are some pitfalls:

  • You go into the conversations with an ego. If you look for confirmation that everyone else in the world is all messed up, you will miss the parts where you are the one messed up. This is where emotional maturity counts.
  • You think you have lots of time. Reputations are built over a lifetime — and taken away in a moment. If you see the warning signs, waste no time in having the conversations. Err on the side of paranoia.
  • You think you are safe just by the conversation. Continue to look at the workplace and what happens from your work. If the actions your boss and coworkers take continues to be different from what they say, it is time to look for a different job.

We are very social creatures. Use this to your advantage when you sense that things are not proceeding along the way you thought they were. There are warning signs. There are steps to take to validate the warning signs. And you can avoid the pitfalls of trying to recover.

Get rid of that bad mojo.

  • PRas says:

    You mention not to go into the conversation with an ego. This is true. At the same time you don't want to go into the conversation like a punching bag.

    If you go in with an ego the boss will be quick to put you down in your place. But if you go in too soft they will walk all over you.

    Wouldn't it be good to approach the conversation by stating your perspective on what you have accomplished in a positive way and then show them that you are open to their thoughts??

    This way you can get your perspective out there and see if they are missing something, at the same time show that you are not blind to areas you need to work on.

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