I’m not here to eat you up

Recently I went into a new job, and supposed to be heading a team.

There’s this girl in the team (we call her B, for the purpose of this blog post), who’s been with the organization for a long time, waiting for her big break.  With me now in the picture, she isn’t of course quite happy with the arrangement. And has been quite openly hostile towards me.

To make matters worse, the boss who recruited me left, and before he did, he sort of told B that he had in mind to split the team into two, and she can lead one of them.

At first I wasn’t quite in-the-know, but over the past few weeks, I managed to gather that she’s also known to be quite a hard-head in the organization. “But she delivers her work la …”  the few new friends whom I managed to make, try to comfort me with that.

I tried to find out more from HR, and there’s now a covering boss, but everyone’s sort of sitting on the fence and not wanting to “get too involved”.

So I’m kinda in a “limbo” state, I have a hostile team member, but she’s someone the organization finds good enough to keep, yet not quite good enough to promote. And noone has made it quite clear yet, what my role is…

It does sound like a raw deal for me overall, but as I try to swim and survive in this new environment, I managed to find a new perspective on the sentiment on new immigrant and FT.

Purely from an ‘outsider looking in’ perspective, and not wanting to downplay or undermine anybody’s sentiments in the situation, B’s reaction to me (as a new inject into the team), exemplifies the organ rejection towards new immigrants/FTs.

It’s of course quite obvious and no need to over-analyse why B is reacting like this, but if we put that aside, and look at what could or could not help the situation, we could have a better idea what we can or cannot do to integrate new foreigners.

I think it’s becoming futile, my attempts to reach out to her. So we can’t really ask new immigrants to reach out, if locals already have a preconceived determination to reject them. We can’t ask her to accept me – there’s of course a really valid reason why she’s reacting this way.

On the other hand, I didn’t come here to take away her job. In fact, I left quite a nice job to come here, cos I thought I could contribute, and the organization maybe thought so too when they hired me.

It’s clear to me, me and B, we’re not dichotomies.  It’s not a situation where if I’m here, there’s no place for her.  She obviously has value to the organization.

It’s also not situation where if she’s here, there’s no place for me.  I’m confident of my own value, and what I can bring onto the table.

Both of us has value to offer.  And the organization can be better off with both of us.  But how to deal with the situation?

It became an interesting observation to me, that actually the “Government” can’t do much to bring about an integration by simply saying we both should.

I realise bosses can’t really do much to force a reconciliation between me and B, cos authority will only embitter her sentiment further and cause her to dis-engage.  If they force us, at best we’ll have surface cordiality.

But maybe we can facilitate some manners of interactions.  E.g. I tried to make clear some roles for a start, clarify some rules of engagement, and allow us to create space in which each of us will feel safe, and manouvre in. Importantly, trust has to be built.

It’s not all rosy yet, and the road ahead is probably going to be long, but at least I found something fun to do in the meantime.  This is an experiment, how the “us” and the “them” can find common ground.

Stay tuned.

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