Career Opportunities

A ComputorEdge Column

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Peeves, Pitfalls and Pickles: Part 4

© Douglas E. Welch 1997

This month I have discussed various situations and problems that computer people face every day. This week, though, addresses one of the most troublesome and difficult to solve problems, personality conflicts.

Usually a personality conflict arises when 2 people have different ways of working. One might be extremely security conscious while another is more casual. One might be more fanatic about organization than another. Whatever the problem, situations like these can usually be resolved by adjusting duties so that these people have less contact with one another. The situation grows worse, though, when one employee's personality grates on many staff members or even the entire company.

Personality Events

More problematical than simple personality conflicts, personality events are usually driven by someone in management or other position of power. They can occur for any number of reasons but usually focus around particular hot spots for each person. This person's reaction to perceived violations of their commands is usually to lash out verbally, no matter what the situation or environment.

In one case, the troublesome person was an owner and manager within the company. He would often have screaming fights with other managers and employees within the common areas of a very small office. Every employee was able to hear every word. Company morale and work productivity plummeted whenever this occurred.

If you're an employee, your job may be in danger if you speak out against this person. On the other hand, working under someone such as this goes well beyond the breadth of most job descriptions. Addressing this type of problem requires some hard thought on everyone's part. You can make your objections known to the manager or you can take the issue to his/her superior. Either way, you need to be prepared to look for another position if the problem is not resolved to your satisfaction. No one has to suffer under the tyranny of personality events, especially in the plentiful job market that exists today.

Be careful what you offer

Another personality-related problem can arise out of your own desire to do a good job. Employees often place their own lives on the back burner in order to complete a particular task.

If there is truly a deadline emergency then it is expected that every employee will give a little bit more until the emergency is past. Unfortunately, work life can often degenerate into a series of endless emergencies that don't allow you to ever recover your equilibrium or sleep. Constant emergencies point to larger problems in any company. Someone is over-committing their resources (you) and every project, no matter how small, turns into an emergency.

Most companies will take whatever extra effort you are willing to provide. Be very sure that your workload will return to normal somewhere in the future if you may be committing to a work load you cannot sustain.

Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on Douglas' web page at:

He can reached via email at