Road Block

Posted by Claudia Moser on 6:38 PM in , ,

Am I the road block in the way of colleagues' development? I want to tell you a story which happened today.

I used to be a senior purchaser in the company I work for, and appereantly I did quite a good job since I was promoted this spring as project manager (this was always my professional identification, I have worked prior for 9 years as project manager).

Nevertheless this means that I still know a lot of issues linked with purchasing and that I am able to identify problems quite fast.

Currently the project purchaser active in my project is a former colleague, over 50 years, with 20 years of purchasing experience in his back, but in the current company for the last 3 years as I am.

Today I identified that he did not do an important task for the project, I called him, explained him the situation and basicall got an answer: Let me be, why do you comment? In the end I have more than 20 years experience and what do you know? I actually felt insulted by the conversation and I believe in the end neither of us was very specific.

So here I am talking with my ex boss about the situation and his view is that I actually offended my colleague, that I am doing a quality control for his department. Well I wasn't, I just wanted the problem to be solved fast and within rules (which was not the case). And as it turns, my colleague (a guy btw!) felt attacked and that is why he reacted as he did. Plus I was anyway too fast before, nobody was able to keep up the pace with me. So now I wonder: shall I lower my standards? am I comparing others with my performance? am I a road block?

To be honest I am frustrated because I know nothing will get better, the status quo will remain as it is, so what next?

P.S. This is not only my frustration post but it fits perfectly the weekly theme under The Writers' Post called Road Block, such is life!



I think your co-worker is a road block. He should appreciate your help. But most people take offense if a mistake is pointed out to them. My husband says when he works with people who are slower he has to adjust his pace. I don't think you should lower your standards.

If you are above him, he should listen to you with respect. Even if you aren't you did right pointing out a mistake.

@Belle - thank you for your feedback, I am actually considering a lot today's events, I must think what to do next!

I agree with Belle's observations. An older male will no doubt feel 'threatened' under most circumstances when a younger female colleague points out an error caused by his lack of attention to detail (it's the male ego thing at play!). I am sure his reaction was therefore entirely true to the norm. Provided you approached the situation in a pleasant i.e. polite manner, you need not feel in anyway responsible for 'offending' him. If I were you, I would continue as though nothing had happened i.e. continue to be pleasant and professional in all your interactions with him. If he seems to be carrying a grudge, you could then write a short email pointing out that no offence was intended and say you hope both of you can be mature enough to move beyond this.

@Desiree - I think you noticed very well the maturity part, I am going to monitor the reactions in the future. Thank you for your suggestion, they are very valuable to me!

Great post on Road Blocks. I don't think he needed to be offended--especially if you were offering him help or a piece of advice so he could do his job better. On the flip side, I know many managers here that would have taken that advice and made it look like their idea--found a way to have taken credit for it--and not thanked the advice giver at all.

I hope a good working relationship can be established and that he can get over his ego :)

Cheers, Jenn.

Sometimes it can be difficult working with others especially if they have a lot of experience and years under their belt. They can definitely become a road block in the work place because they feel they should be beyond the pale, free from fault, and if they do make a mistake...it should be overlooked because they have been there forever! Sometimes they feel it is their way or the highway... Your coworker was probably embarrassed by their mistake. Does make for a sticky work environment. Great post on roadblocks.


Hi Claudia...I was in the Dr's office yesterday and saw this 'Four Agreements'....number three was this:

Don't Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

So he has a problem with 'something' and it isn't you. I like Des's idea of acting like all is fine and if not...sending the email. Be true to yourself and YOUR reality.


Hi Claudia. This is a problem, and no mistake! I agree with all the other comments. It's certainly the male ego at work, and how! It would be bad enough for that man to have his error pointed out to him, but by a woman, and by a YOUNGER woman at that! Oh dear! You are not the road block. HE is. It will be interesting to see how he interacts with you over the next week. I'm afraid that this is so common, when a person has been doing a job for a long time. They actually resist change, and can be a real drawback to the company. Good luck with it!

@Jenn - strange how life provides blogging material! We shall see how his ego will evolve!
@Kathy - I think that no one is happy when a mistake is shown / identified and more over highlighted.
@Sush - so true, never take it personally, and he did. I do try to stay true to myself, till now I had only to gain out of this loyalty to my own way.
Ladies thank you for your advice, it does help me assess the situation better!

@Diane - I am also very curios on how he will interact, but I am not expecting much change. Thank you for your support!

You just know he would have behaved differently if you were a middle-aged man.

All you can do is smile politely, and don't back down. Why should you compromise your own professional standards for the sake of someone who appears to be letting his ego get in the way?

It sounds like office politics at its worst.


@Sarah - most likely and I am truly sorry that he does believe that competence has anything to do with age or sex. And for sure I will keep my attitude valid as before!
@Joyce - very true, sad but true!

While I like the suggestions from Desiree, I can see both sides of that coin...you are faster, smarter and better at his job...the problem IS that other's cannot keep up with you. You will eventually undermine yourself if you do not create some type of structure for both your colleagues and you to follow during a project...good luck ..been there/done that! Now I'm unemployed....

@Humor after 50 - well of course you are right in respect to structures. As for the comment in respect to me being faster, smarter and better that is on another token and it should have no bearing on the situation (plus it's all no true I am sure!). Anyway thanks for the hint!

Claudia, I can relate completely! Just before I retired, my supervisor left and many, including the Director and the person who did get the job, expected I would apply because I did the very same job in my previous position with another state agency. Well...to make a long story short, I transferred from that other state agency because I was weary of dealing with the stress that came with such a large responsibility of supervising many and assuring that employees received correct pay, benefits, worker comp treatment/payments, etc... The list went on and on... So, it was a BIG surprise to everyone but me that I didn't bother to apply for the job. The fact was that I was planning to retire in just one more year. I didn't feel that it was right for me to take the money and run, leaving them in the same recruitment boat in the following year. PLUS...I DIDN'T WANT THE STRESS. My income was more than enough and my drive to climb the career ladder had bottomed out.

Well, that was the foundation for my comment... The coworker who got the job worked in another area of expertise in our rather large organization. She is a smart lady, but ill equipped to become a manager in a different area. Always helpful, I tried to help her. Apparently, I was a threat and she set out on a course to discredit me in front of coworkers and in private. Everything I did was wrong. Well, me and another highly experienced coworker. I could go on and on, but the short of it is that it became so obvious to coworkers that the day I got even went down in infamy. Once again in a staff meeting, she treated me like a village idiot. I was polite as usual. After the meeting, a coworker told her that I was right in what I was saying and she shouldn't have done that to me. But...I held my head up as I walked down the hall to my office, threw together my resignation with A WHOLE MONTH NOTICE! Then I went back to her office, placed it in her IN BOX and walked out without a word. LOL...Ever hear a silent cheer? hahaha that is what my coworkers did. When the incident reached the Director's ears, I was quite candid with my remarks about the supervisor's ability to supervise others. She received a verbal reprimand of sorts and I hung around for another month to gloat. By the date of my retirement, she wasn't speaking to me and couldn't even look me in the eye. I walked out of my career with my reputation intact while she struggled to maintain. Well, like I said, she is a smart lady. I hear she has been promoted to Asst. Director when the Director retired and his Asst. stepped up. I wish her well because she WAS my friend at one time before all this happened.

Great blog for roadblocks! (sorry for the blog in a blog, but there is no short way to relate this experience..LOL)

@Darlene - many thanks for your contribution, another good lesson for life! Working in a team is challenging at times, but I still believe it is much more fun than alone!

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"A story is not like a road to follow … it's more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you."
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