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No. 61 – After a promotion, I’m struggling to earn the respect of former peers

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25 May 2022

Four of us were encouraged to apply for the job as our boss’s deputy. I got it. The three others have now gone wild. They send me cranky emails about trivial matters all day, every day and over the weekend and are totally uncooperative when it comes to basic necessary tasks. And don’t get me started on the more complex important aspects of our work with disadvantaged students. Any ideas for how I can get them all on board? I feel like I really don’t want to indulge bad behaviour or pander to them in any way.

I can see why you got the job; you are clearly more mature than your colleagues. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to change your relationship with your former peers to establish your credibility and authority. You have been given the extra responsibility (and I am hoping extra pay) to move from being a peer to becoming a leader. You may also be quickly coming to realise why your boss created the role at all since you are now dealing with managing difficult staff. Be sure not to have any favourites but avoid being a bulldozer too. If you haven’t already been supported with leadership training, ask your boss if that is an option because it’s always tricky to lead your former peers. You might also want to speak with your boss about any advice they have and brainstorm suggestions with them as you find your feet. This transition is a fine balancing act but I’m sure you are up to the task.

I’m a graduate working as a consultant for a larger company. My work can be quite varied and sporadic. However, every couple of weeks I will have a day or two where I don’t have much work to get on with and I sit around doing nothing for hours at a time. It usually happens because I am either waiting for someone to send me files or tasks to get started on, or I am waiting for someone to review my completed work. What do I do and how do I talk to my manager about this?

A good manager will be thrilled if you raise this issue with them. I wouldn’t hesitate to let them know you have capacity and you’d like to take on more. Your manager will hopefully be grateful for your initiative, honesty and ambition and should offer you extra responsibility and expand the role to fit your capabilities. Before you speak to your manager, have a think about any additional tasks you feel ready to take on so you can be proactive about how to shape your role. If your manager doesn’t appreciate you raising this and is happy for you to twiddle your thumbs, that is a massive red flag and you may want to move to a workplace you can grow and thrive in.

My daughter is in year 11 and was employed by a national pharmacy chain to work three hours on the same day every week. Instead of being employed as a casual on $13 per hour, she was employed as a part-time employee on $11 per hour with promises of a Christmas bonus, sick leave and annual leave. None of that has eventuated. Her employer argued about her request to take annual leave, she is repeatedly rostered on days when she is unavailable and changes are made with little notice. Her employer seems to treat her as a casual but gets away with paying her $2 less per hour than she is entitled. What recourse does she have other than looking for another job?

Any parent with teenagers knows this situation is all too familiar. I sought advice from workplace employment expert, Fay Calderone, a partner at Hall & Wilcox. As a part-time employee, under the Pharmacy Industry Award 2010, your daughter and her employer must agree in writing the number of hours to be worked each day, the days of the week she’ll work, and her start and finish times. Any variation must also be agreed in writing with any changes provided with seven days’ notice, or 48 hours in an emergency. Requests for annual leave cannot be unreasonably refused and her roster shouldn’t be changed every week either.

Your daughter’s employer may have breached clauses of the Award which could bring financial penalties to them. It’d be worth your daughter approaching her manager, and you can accompany her as a support person, to reach an amicable agreement. Otherwise, you can go to Fair Work Ombudsman. Your daughter is protected from losing her job as she has a right to make a complaint about her employment. Good luck!

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