“On her first day at work, 26-year-old Cissy Najjingo did not get the warm reception she had hoped to receive from her new work-mates. She tried to fit in but kept getting cold treatment.
“They were only interested in knowing why I had left my former workplace. One of them scornfully asked if I would manage the new place, then asked why I had quit my former job,’’ Najjingo shares.
Najjingo says her first two months were tough. She could not access the necessary work equipment yet her colleagues were never helpful. Her supervisor was not any better, she did little to guide her on what to do.
Najjingo adds: “The two months gave me an opportunity to study the environment of my new workplace and personalities of fellow employees, something that helped me identify who to work with and run to incase of anything.”
With time, Najjingo realised she was receiving cold treatment from her colleagues because some believed she was a threat.
Working with people who shut down colleagues or give a cold shoulder can hinder career progress.
Some of the people in a work environment like Najjingo’s take things personal to the point of setting traps for a colleague they do not like.
Joseph Wanda, an employee at Research World Company, points to a number of factors that lead some workers to believe their colleagues are a job threat.
“Employees that think of others as a threat to their positions lack confidence in themselves. Some do not want to be challenged,’’ Wanda says, adding that: “Due to tension and fear, some old employees turn out to be mean to new employees because the ones that go out of the way to help and guide new employees are never reorganised by their employers.”
Wanda says when an employee is struggling and feels insecure at work, they think the only way they can achieve it all is to create unfavourable working conditions that will force other employees to quit.
“Some have no empathy and can never think twice about sabotaging a fellow employee’s career, especially if it will advance their goals,’’ Wanda remarks.
How to manage
Jennifer Etit Okaka, a human resource business executive at KCB Bank, says it does not matter who welcomes you or not.
Try to show your colleagues you are part of the company and you want to work with them but not against them.
She, however, says you should not shove this down their throats.
“It is always best to focus on your work and do your best. Do not be disrupted by the competitive, provocative and bully nature of your coworkers. Often when people are threatened, it is because they fear losing power, position, control and their status,’’ Okaka says, adding that being honest with your co-workers can later change their mindset.
Okaka says in any work environment, expect to meet people who seem unwelcoming but this should not get to your nerves. He emphasises that the effort you put in your work should not depend on the way you are being treated by a fellow worker.
“Quitting your joy simply because a fellow worker or supervisor is a bully is not the solution but remain calm. Before you know it, all will be history,’’ she advises.
Know who to deal with
Najjingo says not all coworkers will be mean to you as some need time to understand who you are. You can as well use this opportunity to identify a coworker you have something in common with.
“Study the environment around your colleagues, know who they are and what their interests are and what you have in common, this will help you know your limits and who to run to in case of any challenges. This will help you establish yourself in the organisation,” Najjingo advises.
Decide on what you want
Ethan Musolini of Success Africa, says when job hunting, you have goals and dreams so do not let fellow workers sabotage your goals because of their personal fears.
“Focus on doing a great job because focusing on negative ideas from your colleagues will distract you from doing what is important – productivity. Rather than alienating yourself or fighting back, do what is expected of you and treat them with love,’’ he says.
He adds that you should bear in mind that you got the job on merit therefore how other employees treat you does not count.