Consulting

How would you deal with condescending coworkers? I’m in a project where the youngest (F 24), and only Analyst. My M and MD has given me a step up opportunity for a Consultant level role.... (cont’d)

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Are they threatened by you? I think as long as you have good support of M and MD you are fine. They will be threatened and there’s nothing you can do about that unless you want to appear very subservient, which is a terrible path to go down. Power dynamics are real and I think some people inherently promote toxicity. Do good work, make sure that you are recognized, don’t stab other people in the back and maintain a clean reputation. Also have you raised the issue to the two folks? Frame it as you are seeking their guidance on how to succeed in the c role. Clarify ahead of meetings on what speaking role you want to have. This could also be miscommunication on what they perceive is your step up role.

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Thanks you for your reply . I agree, I’ll maintain focus on doing a good job and stay away from trouble. That is great advice D1, esp. on framing it as seeking guidance. I thought about raising this directly with the people involved. But given the specific dynamics here, I don’t believe that it would be a productive conversation. A few months ago, I actually asked the MD’s opinion on this as well - he agreed that raising it directly may not be the best solution given the personalities of the people involved. He said he’ll make a general comment to the team for everyone to treat each other respectfully (without singling anyone out). But so far the behavior still continues as is.

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I have been on plenty of projects where I’m working with people at all levels. I don’t concern myself with what level these people are unless they are the direct supervisor for an engagement. I treat everyone the same, regardless. It’s worked out very well for me. (I highly encourage you to not take part of that pettiness) That being said, your coworkers sound like they don’t respect you. You said that you have gone to your M, MD and CC about this issue... have you talked to them first? I promise you’re going to have plenty more people that are just unpleasant or rude to work with, and it’s important to learn how to handle this on your own because there will be plenty of times where you can’t go to a superior, or they don’t care or have time to care. It shows a different level of maturity when you do it on your own as well, Consultant-level maturity 😉 Good luck!

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Thanks for the reply A1! 😊 I agree that it’s best to stay out of the pettiness, and just be the bigger person. I have thought about raising this issue directly with the people involved (and this is the approach that I would typically take as well). But just for this particular case, I don’t believe it will be productive - given from what I understand from the dynamics and personalities of the people involved. The MD that I consulted with on this agreed with me. The last thing I would want to do now is to yield more negativity from having that conversation. So I’m in a bit of a standstill here :(

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And the other team members on my stream are 2 Consultants (both women) who are a few years older than me. I noticed that they haven’t been treating me the most respectfully since my ‘step up’ e.g. interrupting me in meetings, telling me to speak to a secretary instead of a client counterpart directly, asking to have my manager present with me when discussing matters pertaining my responsibilities/counterparts, stepping into conversations I’m having with a client uninvited... In other words, generally undermining me. I have a feeling it’s because I’m an Analyst doing a Consultant’s work. (As a context, one of the C’s I used to work ‘under’ her, and help out with her work in the previous phase of this project. But now we are both working at the same level.) My Managers and MD, on the other hand, have a lot of trust in my work (have in fact put me up for promotion). I’ve tried raising this issue with them, but they just said I should tolerate her, since she is pregnant (meaning she will be moodier I guess?) and not take it personally. My CC is actually friends with this said Consultant, and when I raised the issue with him, instead of helping me find a solution, he told me to “have some respect for your elders”. I have not said or done anything, other that doing what I’m supposed to be doing at Consultant level, and contributing in meetings as such. But I feel like I’m always getting push back from the other two to ‘put me in my place'. It’s at a point where I feel like I have to walk on eggshells, and play myself down, as to not make them feel threatened. Yet their behavior still continues. It’s making me very unhappy, and I feel like I can’t express my thoughts and contribute as much anymore. Have you encountered something similar? How would you go about this situation?

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Ok.. so let me peel the onion a bit and make a few comments: 1) Your Managers and MD are just wrong to imply that your colleague is acting a certain way simply because she is pregnant. We mustn’t encourage such comments in the workplace 2) The other 2 consultants shouldn’t be telling you what to do.. it isn’t their call. I’d tell them in a rather polite manner that you know when you need guidance from them or your managers and when you don’t. Let them know that While you value their opinion and guidance it is becoming counter productive. If they still don’t get it - I’d just ignore them. 3) Be confident in what you do. If you think you’re right don’t change. 4) Stuff like this shouldn’t bother you. Once Your tad bit immature colleagues realize it doesn’t fluster you they will settle down. I’ve worked on projects where my peer SMs have led the same OR I am working with a super ambitious M/C. I have no issue with someone else hogging the spotlight peer or junior and I just let them be. That said, I don’t allow people to walk all over me regardless of level. I share my opinion with them when it comes to a) my work or b) something that I believe could be beneficial to the team. Quite frankly the one thing I have enjoyed at Accenture Strategy is the fact that I have some wonderful SM colleagues that I can truly collaborate with. Please DM me if you want additional coaching. I’m happy to lean in and help!

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This is a good learning experience, in my opinion. Dynamics will always be fluid in our work and it’ll be good to figure out what works for you without burning bridges. I agree with the advice to do great in your work. Don’t be confrontational but don’t back down during the situations either. It can be difficult in the moment, but I’ve seen success in positive attitudes and it makes a difference further down the line in your career. Great advice above too, best of luck!

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uplifting
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Most people already said what needs to be said. I just wanna emphasize that you should just ignore them given that the people who matter actually value and respect you. Don’t sweat it, and pre-congrats on the upcoming promotion

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All great advice I’ve read above. But surprised no one has told you to change your CC. Change your CC after promo. If said person isn’t standing for you with something like this, not sure how solid they are in general tbh.

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I think the best way sometimes is to speak directly with the toxic people, and they’ll see that you’re not one to take their bullying. I agree with D1 on the advice to talk to them and frame it as what D1 suggested.

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Try and understand it from the consultants’ perspective- a resource that was under them is now at their level and taking their work. It’s an awkward situation, though immature. I would clearly and openly define roles and responsibilities to make sure you are not stepping on any toes. This will make your life easier and the consultants’ therefore allowing more communication.

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