I will feel like a tattle tale if I go to my bosses, but challenging her by myself is also super unpleasant and I don't want to escalate the tension. But I expect to be treated with respect, not tiptoe around and do whatever she likes because she'll throw a tantrum otherwise. How would you deal with a situation like this?
That does sound unpleasant. Sometimes I try to remember that bossy people can be anxious themselves and it makes them want to throw their weight around trying to control things. For example, maybe she has a germ phobia and fears cleaning bathrooms and it makes her act irrationally--just an example. So I'd start with trying to get my brain to stop seeing the other person as 'enemy #1,' because it can make me a better listener.
Then it may be true that when you start acting in a more assertive manner, she is going to become unpleasant, and you have to work with yourself to accept that. Conflict is inevitable in this situation, if you want change. If you push back, she is likely to get bossy and pushy back. If you can psyche yourself up to just get ready to deal with that, you can handle it. Use only assertive statements, no blaming. "I need for us to split up the work more equitably," NOT "you never clean the bathrooms." If things aren't working out, you could say to her, "we need to see the supervisor about the workload distribution," implying togetherness; that way it won't be behind her back and you won't feel like a tattletale.
It will take some firmness from you though, and I guess that's the part you have to get yourself ready for. But I find that sometimes when we push ourselves in this way really interesting and cool things happen that wouldn't have happened if we just continued on without trying to make change.
Also, if there is an EAP in your facility, you might ask them for some help, just in terms of helping you determine how to go about this.
It sounds very hard, and I wish you luck with it!
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You could also ask to have a mediated talk and discuss the specific issues of silent treatment, not sharing job duties, and not switching of getting to leave early. The underlying hard to pinpoint stuff is frustrating but will be harder to bring up but the other things are obvious and valid.
Another idea: would it be appropriate to sit down with her & talk about roles? You could thank her for showing you the ropes since she started just before you & could gently remind her that you're at exactly the same level ("now that I'm up to speed & we are in for the long haul together, I have a couple of ideas for how to move forward efficiently ..."). You could present a plan that covertly places limits on her ability to walk all over everyone. If it's a congenial conversation, it might work - you'd want to be sure to raise issues that you recognize as being important to her too so that it's not a one-sided discussion.
So I'd definitely try that approach first BUT if you're not successful, I wouldn't hesitate to address the issue with a supervisor, if you think they'd be receptive. It's they're job to maintain team cohesiveness & to manage employee relations if things aren't going well. They may have no clue what's going on but it sounds like this woman's bossy attitude could end up negatively impacting workplace morale & performance. It really is an issue that should be escalated if you aren't successful in tackling it yourself.
Mama to my little busy bee.
Do the others feel the same way you do? Because if they do you could possibly all join forces to not let her get her way and be assertive together. It's much easier when others follow suite.
Thanks for the suggestions so far! I have been trying to assert myself while trying to keep our work environment positive, and I'm really struggling to continue doing it in a mature way.
I have tried to feel out some of the other employees, but I have difficulty guaging how much others are bothered by her since they are so passive. Its difficult to bring up without sounding like I am talking about her negatively behind her back, which is highly frowned upon in our work place (understandably), but mostly the other girls say things along the lines of "Well its probably not fair, but I don't really mind...." and I want to tell them all to grow a spine ;)
We just had a work meeting with all employees where we were told that 1 of the 2 people on shift can leave an hour early if we want to (we have way fewer residents than usual and they'd prefer us to voluntarily chose to leave early sometimes instead of cutting hours.). Well this woman announced that she is "scared" to stay by herself in the evenings and thus she will always be the one who gets to leave early. She didn't ask or suggest, she flat out made an (unfair) ultimatum right in front of our supervisors, and no one challenged her! While I sat there with my jaw on the table, and considered throwing a stomping tantrum like my toddler.
For the leaving early thing, I would talk to your supervisors. They can come up with an alternate plan for making her feel safe at night (which I understand and giving her the benefit of the doubt that it is true). If between the coworkers a fair arrangement can't be reached, it is the supervisor's place to step in and make it fair. I'd probably start with this one since they actually witnessed her behavior.
For the cooking and cleaning, I would probably just say "I notice you tend to prefer to cook, but I'd like a turn too. So this time you cook and next shift together I'm going to cook, sound good?" If she won't budge, I'd either drop it or take it to your supervisor. There isn't much else to do. But make sure you make it clear when and how you tried to work it out and have the last several shifts documented and then ask them how they will resolve the situation. Make it their problem, but politely.
In regards to the silent treatment, have you tried bringing it up with her? I would try that and if she acts ignorant or again won't budge, I'd take it to your supervisor as well. This is the one I'd be most hesitant on bringing up myself as I would just ignore the silent treatment behavior.
Now this is all contingent on the fact that some supervisors may think you are the problem, not her, and you have to know your own job security level. Again, I think in most cases at least bringing up the leaving early thing is fine since they witnessed it.
Oh and you aren't wrong about any of this, she's bullying everyone into going along with what she wants and since it is working with no consequences for her, I can see why she continues. I would fully expect her to be upset about any pushback, she isn't getting it now, but that doesn't make her right!
Katie - Married to Mike 06/02/01, Mom to Sydney Anne born 11/21/09 and Alice Maeryn & Oliver Thomas born 04/24/13
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