How should I handle this unsupportive senior colleague?

Friday March 12 2021
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Jane Muiruri

By Jane Muiruri

Dear Jane,
I work for a global firm that has its base here in Kenya. However, my colleague doesn’t want to offer me any support. When I send things to her for approval, she ignores them. I feel like she wasn’t happy with my appointment, but I wonder why since she is more senior than I am and also older. What do I do?

Dear Joan, 
SI work for a global firm that has its base here in Kenya. However, my colleague doesn’t want to offer me any support. When I send things to her for approval, she ignores them. I feel like she wasn’t happy with my appointment, but I wonder why since she is more senior than I am and also older. What do I do?

The workplace is a melting pot of all cultures and social orientation since we have people who hail from different backgrounds. Employees sometimes carry to the workplace their egos or psychological issues they are dealing with. Therefore, your colleague’s behavior and attitude towards you might be influenced by issues beyond your control. The mood swings could be as a result of depression due to personal challenges that she is unable to resolve, and is, unfortunately projecting to you.

For you to succeed, you are expected to collaborate with your colleagues irrespective of rank. You must respect the office your colleague holds since you will need her comment or approval from time to time. Try having a discussion with her before presenting the documents for approval. 
Have you tried asking her why she ignores your emails? Could it be that you fail to attach some supporting documents? I wonder why you say she was not happy with your promotion. Is that factual or imagined?

 If she is more senior than you, I do not see why your promotion should be an issue, unless she was canvassing for a different candidate, which would be very unprofessional. 
Has your body language changed since your promotion which could be interpreted as defiance, superiority or arrogance acquired after your good fortune? Do not give in to her power play. Just humble yourself. She might think you are dumb but in the end you will win by establishing the cordial rapport that you need to succeed. 

If all your attempts at getting her approval fail, escalate the issue to your supervisor. Be aware that not all your colleagues will be happy when you get a promotion, some will look for all opportunities to frustrate you. 

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Jane Muiruri, 
Senior HR Manager, 
Nation Media Group 
jwmuiruri@ke.nationmedia.com 

 

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