Auntyji: Thieving neighbours and trouble-making colleagues

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DEAR AUNTYJI

We live in Inner West Sydney in a terrace, and recently, something happened that we really need your rai on and which has all our neighbours up in arms. So we have a large lane which gets a lot of foot traffic, and my husband and I have set up planter boxes with beautiful succulents and plants – and so the whole street looks beautiful. Now my neighbour put out an old planter box, which he neglected and failed to put anything in there. I spoke to him and agreed that we would put in plants – which we did and for the last five years we have maintained that planter box and lovingly tended to it. It makes the street very appealing as you walk down it. So anyway, Gary and his wife moved out this weekend, and they took the planter box with them – to our absolute astonishment. For five whole years, they had not lifted a finger to look after the plants in that planter, and we spent money filling it up with lovely plants. And they took it with them when they moved. My husband and I are baffled why Gary and Susanna would do such a thing. It would have been so heavy to move, and why wouldn’t they just leave it – as part of the community. What are your thoughts: are we right to feel upset?

Auntyji: Roadside planter boxes. Source: Denisbin, images from flickr.
Auntyji: Roadside planter boxes. Source: Denisbin, images from flickr.

AUNTYJI SAYS

First of all, I thank you sincerely for being such a community-minded person. Sydney needs more people like you and your husband who help shape communities and who contribute by making beautiful surroundings. Now, about Gary and Susanna. Yes. People who have everything, yet feel entitled to take everything that belongs to them. So your neighbours looked at the planter box in terms of something that belonged to them because they bought it, while you and your hubby saw it as part of the environment of your community which made a positive difference to everyone. Gary and Susanna are somewhat selfish, self-centered people who, despite living in the Inner West, did not demonstrate the lefty values of community spirit and social mindedness that the area is renowned for. They seem like insular bastards who take, but don’t give back. So where does this leave you? Well, look at this as the opportunity to go find another planter box and lovingly create another item of beauty. Galvanize your neighbours to recoup their loss and start again. At least you all now have a common enemy to refer to, and to use this as a lesson for anyone else who thinks of moving and wants to take community items with them.

Getting ahead at work

DEAR AUNTYJI

I work at a large organization in Sydney and have a Master’s degree in computer science. I am in IT project delivery and have over 18 years’ experience. I have noticed that my colleagues seem to be getting promotions over me, and I can’t see any difference between their work and mine. In fact, the one key difference I see is that they are the trouble makers – the first to challenge management, always asking questions during meetings. I have a different style, I don’t challenge management but I always deliver and I get given really good projects and get very good performance reviews. What do I do Auntyji? While I am happy for my colleagues who got promotions, I am wondering where mine is. Your thoughts please?

AUNTYJI SAYS

Hmm. What I am thinking, and which probably has not occurred to you

is that you are no longer in school – where if you work really hard and

study hard and don’t give your teachers a hard time, you will get a good grade. But what worked for us in school, is definitely not going to work for you in the corporate world. Here, you need to work differently. In the first instance, being able to deliver is just part of an equation. If you want to

move into management or leadership, you need to demonstrate this. So where is the thinking that shows you are talking and behaving like a

manager, or a leader? It would appear to me that you are deferential to managers. The problem is that your managers probably are looking for thought leadership, and they promote others who demonstrate this.

While you call your colleagues trouble makers for challenging management, management sees them as people who have good ideas, or who challenge the status quo and who provide thought leadership. So, start by challenging your managers in a professional way – this means ask questions that demonstrate you have wider strategic goals in mind. But choose your language wisely – you don’t want to end up a troublemaker.

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