Wait, You’re My Boss?!

coworker-0815I love the audiovisual industry. For the past 12 years, I’ve been happy to embrace this industry and call it my own. I’ve had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people and work with intelligent and just plain awesome people. Over the years I’ve realized that the audiovisual industry is no different than any other industry; if you decide to stay in the same industry and change companies, at some point you will most likely work with someone you’ve known in another capacity.

You may be saying to yourself, “So what if I end up working with someone again? We got along at the old place.” Unless you are in the habit of carrying matches and petrol and really like to burn bridges, chances are in your favor that working with someone again at another company will be a copacetic experience. However, what if your coworker is now your boss and not an equal? What if you are suddenly the boss of that coworker? How does that change the dynamic of your relationship? In a perfect world, everyone is working towards the same goals, leaving the employees and the company happy at the end of the day. In this perfect world, everyone plays their roles and no one feels jealousy towards others if they did not get credit, or a bonus, or an elevated position in the company. But let’s be real, that does not always happen. We’ve all had experiences in the workplace where coworkers are no longer happy, they become bitter, possibly even an introvert, and only perform their tasks and nothing more. Or this unhappy person now becomes diabolical and strives to make an awful work experience for everyone.

So how do you handle a coworker with a bad attitude? You may be able to ignore them if their work output (or lack thereof) doesn’t affect your ability to perform your work duties. When I say ignore, I don’t mean that you pretend that they don’t exist. While this is a method you could choose to perform, I would not recommend it as the person you are ignoring will eventually pick up on your decision to ignore them and will usually try even harder to make your life miserable. By ignore, I mean that you should choose not to get involved in their misery. If they need an ear for listening or a shoulder to cry on, you can provide this support, but do so as if you are Switzerland and remain as neutral with your thoughts about the company and coworkers as possible. If you start to empathize with their situation and start to see things from their point of view, you risk turning into a sour apple along with them. You may choose to have a conversation with the coworker and explain to them how their attitude may be affecting you and your work performance. Sometimes people do not realize that their behavior in the workplace affects the people around them in a positive or negative way unless it is brought to their attention. Sounds silly, but this is often found to be true.

How do you handle a manager/boss/supervisor with a bad attitude? This one is a bit tricky as most people feel that they cannot handle a manager in the same way that they would handle a coworker. Most employees feel threatened for their job security and do not want to confront a manager who may be out of line with company values or employee morale. As with the coworker, you may have a conversation with your manager to explain your situation. If you do not feel comfortable with doing that and your manager’s behavior is having a negative effect on your workplace morale, then you may have to resort to dealing with their manager or with human resources. HR shouldn’t be viewed as bad or a last resort, but should be viewed as a valuable work resource.

While there will always be a few bad seeds out in the world, my overall consensus is that the people of the audiovisual industry are awesome. There are many talented, intelligent and positive people that thrive in the audiovisual industry, you just need to be aware that they exist. Do not hesitate to reach out to any of these people, even if you don’t know them. Many of these wonderful people have been in your shoes and are willing and able to be mentors and provide helpful support. To paraphrase a friend of mine, “the people make the industry.” I agree with that statement one hundred percent!