To Trust or Not: How Valid Is Your Colleague’s Opinion of Co-Workers?

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Denise Petet 7 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #143561
    I was talking with someone new to government the other day and the individual presented an on-the-job challenge that I’d like to float to the GovLoop community. Here’s the scenario:

    My colleague tried to give me the “heads up” about working in an upcoming assignment with certain staff. I don’t necessarily view it as gossip because my colleague thought s/he was being helpful by warning me. So my question is:

    How do you decide what credence to put in a colleague’s opinion of other staff’s attitudes, personal agendas, and personalities vs. taking a wait-and-see approach to form your own opinion?

  • #143575

    Denise Petet

    I think a person needs to take everything with a grain of salt until they know the lay of the land. I’ve watched people put forth agendas and manipulate others to support them. Misinforming or uninforming as it supports their agenda of the day. I’ve also seen the ‘boyfriend’ make sure to push work towards the ‘girlfriend’, who may/may not actually be the best person to do a job.

    Often you can tell who’s pushing an agenda because many of them aren’t very good at hiding the fact that they’re pushing an agenda. Many are so used to it that they don’t even try to be discreet and you can often tell their true motivations. When you see one person blindly going ‘do this, do this, do this’, often ignoring any questions, that’s a good sign.

    I think I’d treat many suggestions with a healthy dose of cynicism until I knew the lay of the land. And the best way to do that is often to nod politely, don’t burn bridges, listen and look and decide for yourself.

    I wouldn’t toss my support blindly behind anyone until you know more about them.

  • #143573

    This seems like wise advice…thinking most folks will feel the same.

  • #143571

    Paul Homan

    I had this friend who would start an untrue rumor about herself when she started a new job, just to see how long it would take to circulate.

  • #143569

    Carol Davison

    Because I want to be respected and trusted until I demonstrate otherwise, as a supervisor I made a point of not reviewing employee performance files or previous supervisors’ opinions of them. I wanted to have my own relationship with employees, not some other person’s. After a time I realized that I had much different relationships than previous supervisors and much different (meaning extra ordinarily better!) results.

    For this reason whatever information people told me about others was taken with a grain of salt. Eventually I realized that employee A, who was always bad mouthing employee b, was also bad mouthing me with every supervisor and co worker I acquired over the time of my employment there.

    Your colleague opines that their informat was trying to be helpful. How did they discern the informat’s intention, and would the person gossiped about agree that they were trying to behave in the best interst of the organizaiton?

  • #143567

    Henry Brown

    “Trust but verify” as a rather famous president once said

  • #143565

    R. Anne Hull

    We seem to have a lot of agreement on this one. The lessons gleaned are:

    1) Listen, but don’t encourage this type of ‘advice.’ Its good to avoid pitfalls from others’ lessons learned. But they may have a different relationship than you will. Starting with the blank slate is more open and allows greater trust building. But don’t be naive.

    2) Consider the source – their personal style, previous relationships, and their agenda with you.

  • #143563

    Steve Ressler

    To me I find it most helpful to go in blind and not get to much of the heads up/gossip at first.

    But I feel after a couple months it’s good to get gut checks from colleagues.

    -I’m having a problem getting this from X person. Any suggestions? And then you can get the – actually Steve is cool hes just busy and you have to remind him. Or Bob is kind of lame, you really want to go to Sue.

    In an organization, there is the org chart. And then there’s the real org chart. How you really get stuff done there and mines to avoid

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