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First- picture my environment. I work in an inbound call center with about 50 in-house sales agents, 4 other Performance coaches (besides myself) and one Director of Sales. Management is all women. You put "women" and "call center" together and the ultimate result is GOSSIP.

Here's my specific situation- there is one coach in particular that has been with the company 10 years, therefore, has a great deal of seniority. This is that shiny rung on the corporate ladder which is starting to uncover more and more rust. This is the "mouth" at the center of all the gossip...the blotch of spilled kool-aid attracting all of the ants. (Ok, enough analogies, you get the point. haha!) I am having a hard time dealing with this "challenging," toxic co-worker. She is constantly bad-mouthing other coaches, passing blame on others...basically, doing anything to make HER shine. I feel that if there is something another co-worker has done to offend her, she should have the decency and professionalism to talk about it in a polite manner to get the problem resolved. Our Director of Sales even appears to be frightened to correct her because she's extremely verbal and confrontational. Agents on her team confide in me and tell me they don't even want to be part of her team because she flips out on them in a negative way if they don't perform at expectations (because god forbid her team go astray for one day while everyone else shines.) Other coaches are bullied by her...I've seen it first-hand. Yet- I can't go to my DOS because it'll seem like I'M the problem because I'm the only one with guts enough to say anything.

I'm going to have to handle this situation on my own. I need results soon because it's affecting my performance as a coach and it's to the point where I just want to quit.

tlhausmann's picture

[quote="Jozette"]I feel that if there is something another co-worker has done to offend her, she should have the decency and professionalism to talk about it in a polite manner to get the problem resolved. [...]

I'm going to have to handle this situation on my own. I need results soon because it's affecting my performance as a coach and it's to the point where I just want to quit.[/quote]

Have you provided feedback to this peer in the past?

Tread lightly. If I understand the situation described you desire to take action in an area of your boss' purview.

You have issues with a peer and you say it is affecting your performance. When you discuss the matter with your DOS--focus only on observable behavior and how it affects your performance and team performance.

Here are resources for you from the Podcasts:

Peer Feedback
http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/10/the-peer-feedback-model

Consider reviewing:
http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/02/handling-peer-conflict-when-your-di...

and part 2 of the same cast.

HMac's picture

Jozette:

Tom's recommendations about the peer feedback casts are right on. They'll teach you how to give peer feedback.

I want to take a slightly different tack. Although I don't know you or your specific circumstances, I am familiar with the environment of inbound call centers (and yes, 100% female-staffed ones!).

I want to suggest somewhat bluntly, but with great respect, that you MAY be adding to the problem here....

[quote="Jozette"]Agents on her team confide in me and tell me they don't even want to be part of her team because she flips out on them in a negative way if they don't perform at expectations (because god forbid her team go astray for one day while everyone else shines.).[/quote]

Why are you engaging in these conversations with agents from her team? If you have no authority to fix their problems, then..well...you're engaging in idle conversation....gossip? (sorry).

[quote="Jozette"]I'm going to have to handle this situation on my own. I need results soon because it's affecting my performance as a coach and it's to the point where I just want to quit.[/quote]

Maybe I've misunderstood the organizational structure. She's a peer: another coach, responsible for another team of agents. You're a coach, responsible for your team of agents. How is she affecting your performance?

[quote="Jozette"]I feel that if there is something another co-worker has done to offend her, she should have the decency and professionalism to talk about it in a polite manner to get the problem resolved.[/quote]

Sure, that's a reasonable expectation. But you're not her boss. And if her boss won't confront her, then the boss is accepting her behaviors - for whatever reason. But that's OK - because she/he is the boss.

*********

Please don't think I'm taking the situation lightly. Your post sounds like its a very upsetting environment and you're very frustrated. There are tools here like The Feedback Model that can really help.

And if you start listening to the podcasts and checking out these forums, you'll run across something Mark and Mike call "getting poked by an unbrella." That other coach isn't upsetting you: she's behaving in unproductive ways that you're reacting to by being upset. That's a subtle but important difference.

If you use these tools to focus on your agents and on your relationship with your agents, you'll be amazed at the results.

-Hugh

AManagerTool's picture

You know I started deconstructing this post while paying attention to your observations of her behaviors. I couldn't find any. That said, I found plenty of generalization, hearsay and conclusions about behavior. Lets pretend that I was her boss and you just laid out the situation to me as stated. Here is the situation as I see it described:

1. [b]You[/b] are not her manager. I am. You are complaining about MY staff.
2. This person is tearing up morale on [b]her/my[/b] team. How do you know that? Did people quit? Calls get dropped? How are you coming up with that conclusion?
3. She has badmouthed? other coaches. How about you? Are you not badmouthing her right now? What does badmouthing consist of? Did she highlight someones mistake so that others could learn from it in a constructive way using a style of communication that you think is abrasive? Did she make up a lie about someone else's performance on a particular task? When? Who? How?
4. You think she is trying to make herself look good at the expense of others? How do you know this? Did she tell you this?
5. You have seen her bully [b]other[/b] coaches? Did she bully you? What do you mean by "bully"?
6. Nobody has the guts to stand up to her by complaining to her boss? Are you sure about that? Maybe others have already complained.

Yes, this team has a problem and it's probably your toxic friend. I fully sympathize. You have a duty to the team to bring this to a superiors attention. That said, If I was her superior, your complaint as stated would have very little credibility. I might circle the wagons around her and I would even start to keep an eye on you a little closer.

I don't say these things to be harsh at all. I want you to think about it before trotting into someones office with a bunch of complaints that seem pretty sketchy to say the least. I want you to be effective.

[i]How do you think you could have restated your complaint about this person so that it would have been effective?[/i]

cwatine's picture

Jozette-

As your job is to enhance the performance of yourteam by efficiently managing it, the only items you can "work on" are the behaviours of this person that decrease your performance and the performance of your team.
I think the first steps would be to list them.
Then you can think about having a peer to peer conversation or going to your boss about it.

What is happening in other teams is not your business. It's your boss's.

One very dangerous (for you) and unproductive (for the company) would be to go and talk with this person's direct about how bad their coach is!

kklogic's picture

[quote="Jozette"]Management is all women. You put "women" and "call center" together and the ultimate result is GOSSIP.[/quote]

The others have offered some good advice here. If I may add that you may want to reconsider statements like what you wrote above. Regardless of your gender, it's sexist and a generalization. The reality is, where there is a workplace, there is gossip.

US41's picture

Do nothing. Let it go. Let the toxic coworker continue to be toxic. Let her continue to bad-mouth people. Let her do her thing and burn her team to the ground. They will quit - they are all adults, right, and responsible for staying in a job working for a crazy person - so they are responsible for themselves. Just stay out of it.

There is no way you can try to play hero here and win.

Try to feel differently about it. You are not being impacted negatively. You are being poked with an umbrella. Don't get so worked up about it and choose to respond with less righteous indignation.

Try this instead:

* Every time she says something negative, make a point of saying something positive to someone somewhere
* Every time she bad mouths someone, give someone positive feedback
* Every time she frowns, go to your boss and praise one of your other peers and the great work they do.

Do not allow the negativity to become a sticky-bug-trap that you get caught in. You won't win. You won't make things better. You will just seem shrill and play right into her hands.

Rise above and act like she doesn't matter.

Here's your mission:

Set objectives
Measure performance
Hold o3's
Give feedback and praise
Coach
Delegate
Build a network
Hot Wash everything your team does
Give reviews
Publish results
Do kind things

Do those things, and you will succeed and have a great team.

bug_girl's picture

[quote="kklogic"][quote="Jozette"]Management is all women. You put "women" and "call center" together and the ultimate result is GOSSIP.[/quote]

The others have offered some good advice here. If I may add that you may want to reconsider statements like what you wrote above. Regardless of your gender, it's sexist and a generalization. The reality is, where there is a workplace, there is gossip.[/quote]

Thank you. I was thinking that myself, but as a newbie, didn't want to jump in.

cwatine's picture

[quote="US41"]Do nothing. Let it go. Let the toxic coworker continue to be toxic. Let her continue to bad-mouth people. Let her do her thing and burn her team to the ground. They will quit - they are all adults, right, and responsible for staying in a job working for a crazy person - so they are responsible for themselves. Just stay out of it.

There is no way you can try to play hero here and win.

Try to feel differently about it. You are not being impacted negatively. You are being poked with an umbrella. Don't get so worked up about it and choose to respond with less righteous indignation.

Try this instead:

* Every time she says something negative, make a point of saying something positive to someone somewhere
* Every time she bad mouths someone, give someone positive feedback
* Every time she frowns, go to your boss and praise one of your other peers and the great work they do.

Do not allow the negativity to become a sticky-bug-trap that you get caught in. You won't win. You won't make things better. You will just seem shrill and play right into her hands.

Rise above and act like she doesn't matter.

Here's your mission:

Set objectives
Measure performance
Hold o3's
Give feedback and praise
Coach
Delegate
Build a network
Hot Wash everything your team does
Give reviews
Publish results
Do kind things

Do those things, and you will succeed and have a great team.[/quote]

Wow... That's pure gold.

Can I add to the missions : "remove roadblocks for your team"

aniinl's picture

Wow, what a wealth of wisdom and great tips here!

Having just joined the forums, I see I have some terms/abbreviations to catch up on - "DOS", "O3's", "poking with an umbrella" :)

Jozette,
I agree with everything that was said, and I also know how hard it can be to apply all the good advise when you're the one who's stuck in that situation. I've been in similar situations and as upsetting as it is - there's little you can do to change "her", so as was mentioned before, you can only do what's in your own control. In my case I chose to "be/become better". It works everytime! And it's easy because you probably are already better than her, so just crank it up a notch - be faster than her, more reliable than her, kinder, more approachable, whatever it takes! You will feel the change, customers will suddenly start to ask for you instead of her (for example), or people from her team might ask to get transferred to yours! I think this is the most powerful approach - "Show, don't tell." :)

Anja

Fitch's picture

hi folks

i have a very a similar issue at work. Problem is although the person sits almost next to me and we work for the same boss and i am two levels her superior we work in functionally separate areas and i have not been empowered in any way by my boss to help manage our team.

It frustrates the hell out of me but the boss sees it too, is aware, and doesnt visibly act to correct things. On that basis i just 'make note to self' to not be like that when i get my team.

Fitch