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I got a promotion and a raise, but my colleagues undermine me. How do I balance work and my happiness?

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At the beginning of the year I took a different position at the same company where I’ve been working for the past six years. I enjoyed my previous role most days, but took my new position to learn a different side of the business and to potentially build my resume.

That said, I’m really not happy in my current position. With the constant state of flux accompanying COVID-19, the challenges of learning a new role have become exacerbated.


‘Some of my early learning mistakes seem to have made a lasting bad impression.’

Moreover, the role was an addition to my new group with responsibilities taken away from two of the other team members who have been doing this kind of work for quite some time. One member seems less than thrilled to give up these responsibilities and, instead, completes the work for which I am ultimately held accountable.

In short, they don’t seem to trust me yet, and some of my early learning mistakes seem to have made a lasting bad impression. Other folks I have spoken with about the situation have said I need to assert myself more or simply just take over the work. There is a problem with this. I still need help, as they are more knowledgeable and experienced on this type of work.

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While I am coming up to speed more and more each day, I find myself less and less thrilled to work with my current team and find the work itself to be much less interesting than my previous role. This is probably most troubling because I have always believed myself to be a hard worker willing to overcome challenges, and now find myself lacking motivation or desire to do the best job I can.


‘I fear I will become a slave to my coworkers’ opinions with my self-worth tied to their approval.’

A key crux of the problem: I make good money. I could look for another job that would be interesting, but I would most certainly take a substantial pay cut. I could stick out my current position and live well financially, but I would be miserable most days at work with my self-confidence continuing to shrink.

I could double down on my efforts and show this other person that I can be trusted, but I fear I will become a slave to my coworkers’ opinions with my self-worth tied to their approval. I could just exist and manage to do the best that I can, knowing that I’ll feel mediocre at best, for some unknowable future.

What would you do? What would your readers do? What have you done when you’ve found yourself at an unhappy place in your career? How about your readers?

Man in Malaise

Dear Malaise,

You spend eight hours a day or more at work, so you should be happy there. Otherwise, it’s a big chunk of your life. Before you make any rash decisions, I want to caution that this happiness at work is within your grasp. Not everyone has the luxury of a job that they love, but the pandemic has reminded people that we all have something to contribute and a service to provide.

Some people are working in hospital emergency rooms, bracing for a second wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations or already face to face with another wave; others are working in frontline jobs in supermarkets, the police force or emergency services, putting their health and lives on the line. Others are fortunate enough to work from home.

Not every job will make you feel like you are changing the world, but everyone has an instrument to play, and often times it’s that connection with customers and coworkers that makes it worthwhile. When I look back on the best times I’ve had working, recalling that time of my life and the people as much as the work itself gives me pleasure. For me, that is what abides.


I caution you against walking away from a job that you have earned based, I assume, on your judgment, character, work ethic, talents, ideas and ability to work well with others and under pressure.

Some research suggests that our work, not money, brings us happiness. Headcount, an artificial-intelligence tool that measures work satisfaction, sets out these simple tenets: “We enjoy doing the tasks assigned to us. We support, respect and feel right about the people we work with. We have an opportunity to advance our career. We feel acknowledged and respected at work.”

If you look at that list, you are ticking a lot of those boxes. The issue you have are coworkers who appear to have a problem adjusting to your new role. They have the problem. Yes, you are rightly sensitive and feel the need to feel respected by this group. However, only one of those things is within your control — and, like a reversible coat, it’s good for work and life.

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You can manage your relationship with your coworkers by being transparent and direct, and manage your own emotional response to these coworkers by doing some soul-searching of your own. Be open about your learning curve, and appreciate their continued support, but also tell them face to face that you will learn the ropes better by completing certain tasks yourself.

This line stood out to me: ”I fear I will become a slave to my coworkers’ opinions with my self-worth tied to their approval.” Again, this is within your control. I caution you against walking away from a job that you have earned based, I assume, on your judgment, character, work ethic, talents, ideas and ability to work well with others and under pressure.

Walking away from this job and taking one for less money won’t change that. You will still have to deal with new coworkers, and other people in your personal life whose good opinion you require to feel valued and happy. Perhaps it’s a good time to seek counseling and/or ask yourself this question: “What was this situation brought into my life to teach me?”

Cut the cord between yourself and the validation of others. You may learn more about yourself and your ability to find peace of mind, both in work and in life.

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You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at [email protected]. Want to read more?Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitterand read more of his columns here.

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