Jealous Co-Worker?  Ask Madeleine

Dear Madeleine,

I am a young, new manager at a large health food grocery. I love the company, I love the job, and I am really learning a lot about being a new manager.  Here is my problem: when I joined the company as a cashier, I told one of my friends about my new job and she was hired about two weeks after me. 

I got along really well with my manager and she started moving me around the store to work in different departments. Six months later I was asked to manage a team. 

My friend is still at the cash register and seems to be quite angry with me.  When I first started getting moved around the store for training, she made snarky comments about my being a brown-noser, etc. Now she has stopped speaking to me and looks the other way any time I come near her. I am crushed.  I don’t know how to fix this and I think I am losing my friend.

Sad to Lose a Friend

Dear Sad,

Interestingly, I received a letter from a person who is in something like your friend’s position, watching her friend who was hired roughly at the same time rise to meteoric success in her company. In her case, she watched her friend shamelessly kiss up to management and actually sabotage other colleagues to make herself look better.

So, even though my knee-jerk reaction to your letter is “With friends like that, who needs enemies?” I must ask whether it is possible that you played a part in your friend’s turning away from you.  In your self-examination, ask yourself a couple of hard questions and be brutally honest:

  • Have I been disingenuous with my boss and others to make myself more appealing?
  • Have I ever thrown others under the bus to make myself look better?
  • Do I gossip—divulge confidential information to people who have no business knowing?

If you find that you do have something to be sorry for, go to your friend and apologize and tell her that you want to do whatever it takes to make things right.

Even if you can’t think of something you have done wrong, you can ask your friend to help you understand why she is turning away from you.  She may actually tell you, and you can discuss it.  If she is not willing to work things out, however, she is no friend to you and you are going to have to chalk up your losses and move on.

Without a realistic motive for her rather extreme behavior, I think of this as “small town syndrome.” Most cultures have a name for this phenomenon where people feel confused, threatened, and alienated when someone else has success and perhaps grows into someone different from who they used to be.  It is lonely and very sad.

But at least acknowledging the truth will allow you to make new friends who are confident enough in their own abilities that they can be supportive of yours. Ultimately, your quality of life will depend on surrounding yourself with friends who love you and are rooting for your success at every turn. Go find some of those.

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!

2 thoughts on “Jealous Co-Worker?  Ask Madeleine

  1. Communication is key and I agree that Sad to Lose should talk with her friend about the promotion and the impact on their friendship. But, I think that conversation should have taken place much earlier—when Sad to Lose was initially being moved to various departments for training and before she was made a manager. If she had shared her excitement about the potential changes, asked for support, and included her friend from the beginning, the outcome may have been different.

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