Is He/She Threatened By You?

There will be various times throughout your career during which you’ll encounter others who feel threatened by you as a working professional – be it your role, skill set, performance or work ethic. Identifying the underlying issues and effectively dealing with these situations is crucial in preventing your career path from being negatively influenced.

To understand the ‘why’ component of a colleague who sees you as a threat, you must look at your role in the organisation, how long you’ve been there in comparison to the individual as well as your working and/or personal relationship with them. In quite a number of instances, fear is the culprit behind their insecurity. The fear of losing their job or their work to you, the fear of having to compete for a promotion or the added pressure to work harder to meet the quality of your work are all possible reasons colleagues feel threatened.

A combination of the various factors above can cause others to act in a hostile manner toward you. Jealously can also rear its ugly head, particularly when colleagues are uncomfortable with strong women leaders and perceive themselves a better fit in those positions. Threatened colleagues are likely to wait for opportunities to make you look bad in front of others, particularly senior management.

So how best can you deal with these individuals?

Have The Tough Conversation

If you are aware that a colleague sees you as a threat, reach out to them in an attempt to create a camaraderie type of relationship. Make them your ‘new best friend’. If you feel a colleague is attempting to sabotage your work efforts, be prepared to speak directly with them in a professional manner, call the poor behaviour and suggest that you both resolve any differences. This allows you to convey that you’re not going to accept the behaviour as well as call them out on their tactics. It’s best to avoid involving management unless there is a risk to the business if the adverse behaviour continues.

Colleagues and even senior managers can also feel threatened by your skill level or ability to climb the corporate ladder and may use their power to attempt to control your work life, lower your confidence and self-esteem and make you believe that your job is tied to their relationship with you. The best strategy to deal with a difficult manager is to have an open discussion concerning their behaviour. There are instances where the person feeling threatened is ‘protected’ by the CEO or Board and you may elect to look for alternative employment to remain true to your values.

It is critical to take emotion out of the equation when having ‘the tough conversation’, as reacting to verbal abuse or harsh criticism personally only leads to a negative outcome. If the conversation turns hostile, simply acknowledge the attack and walk away without reacting emotionally. This will strip all the power behind the attack, forcing your colleague to reconvene without the anger and abuse.

While the above methods suggest how you can deal with individuals in the workplace who feel threatened by your presence, it is also important to ensure that your behaviour and workplace interactions are not contributing to the problem.

Don’t Take Things Personally

It’s easy to assume that there is something wrong with you when a person reacts negatively toward you. However, overly competitive individuals will often feel threatened by you – and this is about their issues as a worker or their lack of confidence and is not a reflection on you. Don’t get sucked into the drama created by these individuals by taking it personally. Instead, if you’re feeling insecure, have the courage to address it by seeking a mentor and/or personal development.

Be Humble

If you’ve been rewarded for doing a good job or recently promoted, keep it graceful. A little humility goes a long way.

Don’t apologise for your accomplishments either. If you’ve done a great job, colleagues’ jealously shouldn’t prevent you from being confident and proud of your work. Others will appreciate that you’re setting a good example and threatened colleagues will learn to respect you.

Work With, Not Against

When you encounter openly competitive colleagues, it’s easy to assume there will be conflict. An effective tactic is to ask them for advice and ideas, which provides you an opportunity to learn from them and harness their ambitious energy while encouraging them to work with you.

Behave Like a Leader Before You Are One

Dress like a leader, add value, help others including management succeed, work effectively in teams and create and seize opportunities. By demonstrating that you take the initiative, deal with conflict and achieve outcomes, you will gain respect from colleagues and management.

Remember, it’s more important your colleagues respect you, not that they like you. If they like and respect you, consider it a bonus.

Tell us about your experience dealing with people threatened by you. What tips and tools can you share? We look forward to your feedback.

Lifting The Retirement Age To 70: Baby Boomer Early Retirement Raises Multiple Concerns

As the first wave of baby boomers hits 65 and nears retirement, many concerns have arisen. Normally this would be a time for this generation to look forward to things they really want to do, but the repercussions of the global financial crisis have disrupted the secure and comfortable retirement plans for the boomers.

A combination of government policies, longer life expectancy, higher debt levels and poor returns on investment during the GFC are derailing early retirement plans and have encouraged the extension of the working age to 70 after which boomers can retire more comfortably.

Baby boomers that retire at 65 or earlier pose a two-fold problem for the Australian healthcare system. Comprising of over 25% of our population, retired boomers will ultimately require long-term care at home or in aged care facilities due to longer life expectancy. Despite the advancements in medical technology that enable people to live longer, there is little promise of a high quality of extended life, leading to increased healthcare costs.

Based on current trends, the second negative impact earlier retirement will cause is to the medical workforce, where boomers make up a significant portion of the employed. An earlier retirement age will result in fewer nurses, with the industry already struggling to attract younger talent pools due to the high stress and long hours accompanying the work. Over one-third of all general practitioners and specialists are aged 50 or over, and while the current overall ratio shows 1.2 people entering the industry for every retiree, this could change significantly as the wave of retirement grows.

By lifting the retirement age to 70, boomers, not just in the medical profession but across all industries, will stay engaged in productive work keeping them active, mentally stimulated and healthy. Through the desire to pass on their knowledge and experience to younger generations, they will provide several benefits to the workforce and the economy of the country.

If the boomers retire earlier, Australia faces a significant loss of experience which will have a profound impact on business performance. The loss of intellectual capital will not only increase learning and development costs, but may also see more costly errors by younger generations, reduced efficiency, increased noncompliance to regulations, and a lack of effective leadership.

Lastly, there is the concern of an increase in taxes to support retirees. In the 2012-2013 financial year, taxpayers spent $36 billion on pensions, and an early retirement age could mean a whopping 86% of baby boomers are financially unprepared for retirement. This would lead to higher taxes for Generation Y and X to support pension costs, which could also stress the superannuation system. A new late-retirement plan from the government’s top policy agency could see boomers having to contribute a portion of tax dollars to help pay for aged care. Lifting the retirement and pension ages by five years to 70 would save an estimated $150 billion in welfare and health spending, and $78,000 per retiree in pension payments.

With the above points in mind, there is a valid argument for the retirement age to increase to 70. Many boomers are already planning to retire later in life due to the financial constraints they are aware of facing with an early retirement. Equally, the prospect of living until they are 95 or 100 means they are out of the workforce for 30 to 35 years. You can only play so much golf! Their intention is to work longer and derive a better income from profit share and dividends than simply relying on savings, superfunds and pensions.

What are your concerns about raising the retirement age to 70? What plans have you made to prepare for transition to retirement?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Warm wishes, Donny