You Never Know
If you’ve ever had a job, you know some people can be difficult to work with – others simply impossible. They can rub you the wrong way, frustrate you with their work habits or inspire you to keep your resume up to date for the first opportunity to jump ship. Maybe it’s a boss, a co-worker or even a direct report. We’ve all had them and while they can make for hilarious happy hour conversations, tread lightly. Burning bridges may seem harmless, but it could end up burning you instead.
Before you bash your boss (or anyone else, for that matter), you may want to think twice. You never know who might be listening, who they know and how your words or actions may come back to haunt you. It doesn’t matter how big or small you think your circle may be. Even if you live in a big city, when it comes to networking for an IT job or a reference, that big city can become small rather quickly.
People no longer rely on a business card. They take matters into their own hands. Recruiters, managers and virtually everyone in the IT industry use social media to dig into who you are, who you know and where you’ve been. It takes someone five minutes to connect the dots on LinkedIn or other social platforms to do a backdoor reference on someone. If that annoying peer were to be contacted by the hiring manager at your dream company, what would they say about you?
The Do Not Burn List
Burning bridges may have a temporary feeling of satisfaction, but it frequently ends up biting you on the backside. The world is a funny place and stranger things happen than reuniting with an old boss you swore was out of your life forever. Here’s a shortlist of people you should probably just grin and bear it with, even if you’re screaming on the inside:
Your co-workers are moving around the IT scene just like you. You will most likely run across them one day as a client or peer, or interview at their company. If they have upset you, angered you or drive you nuts, there’s a good chance they feel your disdain. Do your best to work with them, understanding that it’s okay if they don’t think like you. Companies need people who think out of the box and do things differently – it’s how innovation and creativity are nurtured.
If they are being disrespectful, it’s completely within your rights to report them. The situation may not be something you can resolve on your own and they may be causing a toxic work environment for others as well. Before you go above them, be sure you find out how your company manages complaints. You want to be sure you are protected.
One of the most common ways fellow workers can become a trigger is when they aren’t pulling their fair share of work. In this case, it may be best to address it with them directly and respectfully to see if there’s a reason why they are falling behind. Their answer may surprise you. You never know what may be going on in their life and it could actually bridge a bad relationship for you to take the time to ask. Of course, if they’re simply complacent, try explaining how their slacking impacts you, others in the organization and/or the business. If needed, take it to the boss to handle. At least you tried.
What if your boss is the one causing you pain? Not only may you work with them again one day in a different capacity, you may need them as a reference down the line. Even if they seem to live to make your life miserable, it’s simply not worth burning that bridge when they can hold your future in their hands. You also likely don’t have the full picture of what your boss is dealing with and the pressures they are receiving from their management.
What to do instead? After you have attempted to address the issues head on and feel like you are at the end of your rope, find another IT job. There are plenty out there and the IT industry is booming. If you are skilled in IT, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a new job. Polish up your resume and LinkedIn profile, start your search on your own, or talk to an IT recruiter or IT staffing company. After interviewing you to discover your talent and experience, goals and desires, they can pinpoint the ideal jobs that fit the bill.
If you aren’t quite ready to bail but feel like it’s only a matter of time, take the opportunity to enroll in courses, extra training or further education for skills you know you’ll need to take your career to the next level. Oftentimes, your current employer will foot the bill for such training. With new skills to offer, you may be able to stay with the same company and get a new boss. Win-win.
Business Partners, Channel Partners
There can be a love/hate relationship with partners. On the one hand, you have to work with them and don’t have much of a say. On the other hand, they can make your job harder and drain your time. Even with the frustration, you have to keep your emotions in check. Business and channel partners know everyone. That means your next job or business opportunity could have a direct line to them.
If there is something you can constructively address with them, by all means, do so. Keep it respectful and tell them what you need. They should realize their partnership with your company is on the line and work with you. If they refuse or can’t, take it to your manager. Maybe they will have more pull.
If all else fails, you may have the option to talk with someone above your partner – their manager or an executive. This is risky as most people don’t appreciate someone going over their head. But, if your job is being affected because of their negligence or behavior, you must say something.
It’s so easy to speak negatively of our competitors. Salespeople do it every day. The problem is, if you’re in IT, that competitor may end up being a company you work for one day. What you say about them to others can and will be used against you, preventing you from landing that dream job.
Instead, look at your competitors as motivation and inspiration. As with any good athlete, you use your competition to make yourself better. Instead of talking smack, identify what they do well and copy or improve upon it. Discover what they may lack and make sure you can do it better.
If they bash you, take the high road. They may work for you one day and you will have the opportunity to coach them on taking the high road. If you find yourself in their crosshairs, think of it as a compliment. Always remember, you weren’t disrupting the IT scene, they wouldn’t pay you any attention.
Recruiters can be your best friend or make you wish you’d never crossed them. Don’t burn bridges when you know they are so connected. They probably have more relationships with managers and executives in every IT department in your city, if not your state. You want their favor because they could hold the key to a new opportunity you may never know about on your own.
If you have an issue with a recruiter, always act professionally and courteously. Engage them, don’t confront them (yes, there is a difference). Ask them what it is that you need to be successful. If it’s more of a personality issue, chalk it up to experience. You won’t always get to work with people you enjoy.
Be responsive, respectful and kind. Isn’t that what we all want from others? The Golden Rule of treating others as we want to be treated is golden for a reason. It works. It not only accepts the fact that we are all different but appreciates that we can still choose kindness. People are dealing with different things in their workplace and in their personal lives and you never know when your paths may cross again.