Each week, Inc. staff writer Nadine Heintz (Miss Management) will help you tackle office etiquette problems both big and small.
Dear Miss Management,
I work in retail. I carry a position that is in the top four of the business. My dilemma is I feel that my manager treats me with a lack of respect. In the past I have gone to this person with ideas and they weren't implemented. A few months later, another associate gave the exact same idea and now it's being implemented. All of the praise goes to this other associate. I feel that too much "visiting" goes on in the office as well, so I do my best to stay out and keep busy elsewhere instead of complaining. Any insight as how to gain respect or not worry about it?
Dear No Respect,
Unfortunately, we don't always get credit for our ideas at work. Most of the time, it's unintentional. Don't jump to conclusions or take it personally. Perhaps the timing was off the first time you made a suggestion to your manager, and she forgot that you even had the idea by the time she implemented it later on. That said, you shouldn't just ignore the problem if it's happened more than once, and if it's bugging you. But you can't just blurt out your dismay with the situation without seeming needy or paranoid (which I don't think you are, but your boss might unless you proceed with caution.) Calmly ask for a private meeting in her office, then ask her for tips on how you could improve your pitches. Point out (nicely!) that she turned down your idea, only to implement it later on, and that you'd like to hone your proposals to make them more appealing. By emphasizing your desire for self-improvement, you'll be able to bring up the fact that you had the idea without seeming like a mere whiner.
The "visiting" going on in the office is a stickier situation, however. If being one of the top four managers at your company means that you're doling out work to employees, you might want to evaluate their workloads and figure out if they have too much time on their hands. You might even bring it up at a meeting with the other top dogs. But, chances are, your co-workers are just blowing off some steam, which is okay as long as they're also doing their jobs well. Asking people to stop "visiting" won't win you any friends in the workplace. You already seem unhappy with your situation and attracting the ire of your colleagues will only make things worse. If the chatting is really distracting, my advice is to try harder to ignore it or request an office in a quieter location. Hey, you might even try joining in once in a while...it might be just the lighthearted touch you need to get through the day.
Have a dilemma for Miss Management? Send her an e-mail and check back here Tuesdays for the answer.