Q. I’m an outreach worker in a three-person team – my manager and a colleague are on the same level as me. My colleague is super-competitive. He constantly volunteers to work late and take on extra projects, interrupts me and takes over in meetings. I love my job and will go the extra mile when necessary but I’m worried I look less committed than him. How do I broach this with my manager?
A. Good managers can spot staff who spend too much time trying to look great. But some managers judge performance by input (time spent in the office) rather than output (results). Your manager should recognise your colleague’s behaviour as potentially damaging to the team.
And team is the important word. Individuals who constantly assert their own personalities and views are not going to contribute to team performance. Good performance is not the sum of each individual’s effort but people’s ability to work together, recognising strengths and weaknesses and building on them to produce best results.
Perhaps a conversation with your manager could start by suggesting some team exercises to improve your understanding of each other’s contribution. You might find that if you can understand what drives your colleague to behave in this way, you could deal with it better.
Prepare for meetings by writing down what you want to say and then ensuring you get this across. If your colleague interrupts, politely ask him to wait until you have finished and make it clear you have as much to contribute. Keep your manager aware of your achievements and be confident of your ability to do a good job on your own terms.
Ben Willmott is employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development