One reader writes:
I’ve been in a new job since March and regularly get good feedback from the company. I already have seven years of experience in a similar position in the same industry and worked in supervisory positions for 10 years before my release. Basically management thinks I’m doing a good job and I have a lot of experience.
My problem is my colleague / colleague. She has been with the company for nearly a decade and does the same job. She gives a lot of unnecessary personal feedback. She knows my background and that I have a lot of experience in my current role. I’ve spoken to her about the subject many times.
Examples of their unwanted / unnecessary advice: make sure I put my chair under the conference table after meetings (told me that after I put my chair under the table), greet customers with a smile, wash my personal mug after use, such as using basic office equipment, closing the door behind me to tell when to have lunch, and following certain steps that violate the training I received from senior management. I promise you I won’t need to be told to wash my cup or move my chair or when to have lunch, but the advice comes anyway. It is said condescendingly and starts with “I know I’m not your boss …”
She also provides poor customer service advice and gets upset / angry if I ignore her. (For example: don’t be nice to the salespeople, you have to be demanding and pushy … don’t try to build business relationships … customers are never right, etc.)
I thought the subject was brought up a month ago when we had a long discussion about it. It started all over again recently, and I just don’t feel like I should go through this every month.
I have to work closely with her as she contains a wealth of information about our suppliers and customers that is not in our system! Her suggestion to include her information in the programs that are supposed to store the information has met with opposition.
Do I have to deal with it all the time? Normally I would ignore it, but I have to work with her. How can I help her understand the difference between helpful and annoying? She gave me some wonderfully useful supplier / customer information, but the personal advice is wrong, terrible, and degrading. Is she threatened by me?
Help me nip this in the bud! She embarrasses me in front of customers! There is no HR team. It’s a small family business with seven employees and only three of us aren’t families.
I’m answering that question today at Inc., where I revisit letters that were buried here in the archives years ago (and sometimes update / expand my answers to them). You can read it here.