Getting on with Colleagues is Important

Clive here. Firstly, thank you for sending so many messages last week indicating that I had hit on a theme that many recognised. Every week, or so, I have started to write a brief blog on the importance of building better relationships in the workplace.

The Story of Chloe

I recently attended a non-work related evening event. There were about 40 people there. During the evening we sat down on long tables to enjoy a light supper. Soon after tucking in to our food, a conversation broke out between a man and a woman who were sitting opposite me. I learned that they were colleagues and were talking about someone they worked with. Let’s call her Chloe. It didn’t take a genius to work out that they didn’t get on very well with Chloe.

In fact, it seemed that hardly anybody in the organisation did. I was partly able to work this out because when one of them was describing her, he said that rather than ruffling feathers, she plucks them. They spoke of her being loud and insensitive and always rubbing people up the wrong way. The fervour with which they both spoke was astonishing. It transpired that after 5 years with the company; Chloe had just resigned as she had secured another job. There was a great sigh of relief from the organisation. The discourse must have gone on for about half an hour.

On my way home I thought about their conversation. Four things came to my mind. First, it seems that Chloe has a huge blind spot and is totally unaware of the ongoing impact her behaviour has had on her colleagues. She needs help. Secondly, over 5 years, there must have been a large cost to the organisation. This would have probably been seen in lost productivity while many people talked about Chloe and her actions. Other colleagues may have left the organisation to get away from her, resulting in recruitment and management time costs. Customer service may also have been impacted as focus was diverted to this difficult person. There is also, of course, the cost to Chloe from her damaged reputation.

Thirdly, it seems that no one had been brave enough to talk to Chloe about her behaviour. This is not unusual. Research indicates that around two thirds of line managers would prefer to do something else, rather than have a difficult conversation with a direct report.

Finally, I am assuming that unless Chloe has had some recent help such as coaching, the organisation she is joining has no idea of what they are about to encounter. I hope it’s not your organisation…

Building better relationships in the workplace should be one of the top priorities for every organisation right now – particularly during this period of economic uncertainty. The business case is compelling.

The unfortunate thing is that we all may have experienced a Chloe or her male counterpart at some stage in our careers but they can be helped.

Incidentally, I selected the name Chloe from one of my daughter’s story books as she read to me yesterday morning. I hope I haven’t offended anyone by selecting this name. I’ll choose a different one next time.

Have a good week.

Best, Clive Lewis