On the Job

Being Excluded? It's Time to Escalate

By Kenneth Bredemeier
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, January 11, 2008; 12:00 AM

No matter what we're doing in life, none of us likes to be ignored. So you speak up, right?

In the office, it might seem like a simple thing to solve. But what do you do when an office colleague seems to be regularly keeping you in the dark when you know you should be included in a team effort?

How do I handle a coworker who is new and excludes me from projects? He knows he is supposed to copy me on everything he's doing, but he is not. For example, when I ask why I didn't receive notices of a conference call, he says someone else sent it out and that he always copies me. I have reminded him several times that I'm to be copied on certain subjects, to no avail. I don't want to run to the boss and complain, but what do I do?

Sandra Crowe, a Rockville human resources coach who advises corporations on their sticky employee relation issues, says she thinks the co-worker who is ignoring this worker's simple request to be included in normal office messages "is really being passive-aggressive with him. This guy is thinking that information is power" and thus figures that anything he knows and the co-worker does not puts him a leg up.

Crowe says that normally she would advise the worker here to do exactly what he did, ask the offending colleague to include him in the memos. But since he has already done that, Crowe says she thinks the worker "needs to go to his boss and say, 'I messaged this guy a couple times and that didn't work. So can you help me out here and help me get notified on these projects?' "

In situations like this, where a work colleague is engaging in uncalled-for behavior, Crowe says she advises employees to give others an opportunity to correct the offending situation. But she says that if nothing changes after an initial request and a couple of follow-ups, workers ought to feel free to ask a superior to intervene.

Kenneth Bredemeier has six years of experience writing about the workplace. On the Job, a column addressing real worker questions about office relationships, corporate policies and workplace law, is written exclusively for washingtonpost.com. To submit a question, e-mail onthejob@washingtonpost.com. We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for length and clarity and cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered.

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