Starting a new job may take some time to get accustomed to. A common concern new employees can face is being compared to a previous hot-shot employee, but sometimes you can be compared to the opposite. You could find that you have trouble shaking others’ frustrations of a former employee who wasn’t favored or left on bad terms.
If you have siblings, you probably know all too well what it’s like to be compared to somebody else. The feeling can be even worse when it happens in the workplace. Here are some ways to handle a boss or co-worker complaining about the former, less than desired employee.
Let it Roll
If you’ve just started, let some of the comments roll off your back. You may have only had a few days to a few months to work at your company and you haven’t had much of a chance to make the job your own. It’s important to be patient and let your work do the talking before you make a big deal out of it.
You are trying to figure out your work environment as much as your work environment is trying to figure you out. Your new co-workers don’t have much to base a working relationship off of yet, so it’s easy for them to fall back on the familiar. Give it some time and strive to build strong working relationships with those around you.
Share Concerns Respectfully
If the months go by and you still hear constant complaints and stories about the former employee, it’s apparent that there could be a problem. Maybe it’s a signal that your manager has some significant holes in his or her interpersonal skills, or maybe it’s a clue that your co-workers are projecting burnout of their job onto the former employee. Either way, it might be the time to have a conversation with your manager.
Schedule some time with your leader or co-worker and address the issue, share how the comments make you feel like the ex-employee is still in the room. Stay calm and avoid getting emotional. Use specific quotes others have said and refrain from using inflammatory phrases like “You always…” or “You’re not being fair…”
Ask for Feedback
One of the best ways to separate yourself from the previous employee and add positive conversation among your peers is to ask for some direct feedback. Regularly asking for feedback takes the focus off the annoying ex-employee and puts a positive light onto you. Not only will it keep things positive toward you, but it will also make you become a better employee by getting feedback on what you’re doing right and what you need to do to improve. If you keep improving, it won’t be long before you make the job your own.
It’s easy to complain, especially when a former employee is gone. You may find yourself in that trap of everyone talking about the person you replaced and not on what you can contribute to the organization. That’s why you need to make a name for yourself by doing a good job first, then address the issue if it persists. What have you done to keep others from talking about former bad employees?