APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham United FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.
Today, she helps out someone struggling with a colleague now they’re face-to-face and someone navigating how to make the move from freelance to a permanent job.
Q. I started a new job six months ago, but it’s only in the last few weeks that I’ve met my colleagues face-to-face in the office.
Everyone seems lovely, apart from one guy who I am senior to but don’t directly manage.
At first I noticed that some of his comments directed at me sounded quite harsh, but I brushed it off and assumed it was just his personality.
However, I’ve since noticed that he doesn’t speak to other people like he does to me.
I don’t want to step on his boss’ toes, but I also don’t want him to think it’s OK to disrespect me, especially in front of my team.
Do you have any advice?
Anna, via email
A. There could be a multitude of reasons as to why your colleague is being prickly towards you, but you do need to address the situation with him.
It’s best to do this in a professional and non-emotional way. Find an opportunity where you can ask him to have a private meeting, and start the conversation with something like: “While we don’t work directly together, I hope that we can work successfully alongside each other.
“I get the impression you may not like my working style and have noticed that you don’t respond well to some of my comments, and I wanted to ask if there is a reason why?”
Being upfront with him will hopefully make him be honest in his reply to you, and it will also make him think about his attitude.
If you worry about stepping on his boss’ toes, mention to his manager that you are making an effort to get to know everyone and you’ve noticed a little hostility from one of their team members that you’d like to address.
As long as you are respectful and professional, you should hopefully be able to have a mature conversation and clear the air.
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Q. I’ve been freelance nearly all of my career, as the flexibility and not having to get caught up in office politics suited me.
But now that my children are at school and I have more time on my hands, I’m looking at my career and feeling like I’ve made a mistake.
Friends my age are enjoying promotions and pay rises, yet, while I have lots of experience, I’m still on the first rung of the ladder, earnings and responsibility-wise.
How can I translate the skills I’ve learned as a freelancer into something more permanent?
Hannah, via email
A. Firstly, you haven’t made a mistake – you say that being freelance has worked well for you and your career over the years.
You have been able to gain experience while providing for and raising a family – that’s no mean feat! It’s easy to compare yourself to friends who are in employment, but you have had the freedom of being your own boss.
You will have many transferable skills that will make you a valuable employee, and any manager interviewing you will be interested in learning about the experience and successes you have achieved as a freelancer, rather than worrying that you have not been a full-time employee.
But don’t feel like you have to apply for permanent positions – another option is to stay freelance and grow your client base.
This way you will retain the independence that being self-employed gives you, while increasing your workload and turnover.
For me, there’s nothing better than being your own boss!
Got a careers question you want Karren to answer? Email [email protected].
Compiled by: Claire Frost
- Karren cannot answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice.