How to work alongside an immature colleague

Do you ever feel like you’re working alongside young kids every day? This personality type just isn’t easy to work with as an adult. Here are some tips for dealing with immature colleagues in the office.

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day was this week, but do you ever feel like you’re working alongside young kids every day? Nothing against kids, of course — this personality type just isn’t easy to work with as an adult.

Here are some tips for dealing with immature colleagues in the office.

Make a few things clear

Dr. Daneen Skube, Ph.D., an executive coach, therapist, trainer, speaker and author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything,” answers a reader’s question in The Seattle Times about how to work with an immature coworker who has outbursts at work, and why he acts that way.

“Every parent knows that what works best with children is to warn them about consequences, give them choices that encourage good behavior, and without argument apply consequences when kids act badly,” she writes. “The same strategy works for immature co-workers. Next time your 2-year-old co-worker wants to have a power struggle, forget about changing his oppositional nature. Instead, give him two choices:

  1. He can continue arguing and not get anything.
  2. He can work together with you or others and get what he wants.”

If your boss is immature, be sure to cover all your bases

A Boston.com slideshow on “childish boss behavior” includes information from Lynn Taylor, a workplace expert and author of “Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT): How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.” One particular slide says that you should “anticipate” the following:

“Be alert for problems and prepared with sound solutions. By having answers to emerging issues, and not adding to your boss’s pressures, you avoid triggering ‘bratty’ behavior. Your ‘TOT’ wants to delegate as much as possible — as long as you make the process worry-free. An extra benefit is that you’ll become more indispensable.”

Tread carefully during your conversation with them

Speak clearly about how their actions are impacting you.

Referring to a 2015 CareerBuilder survey showing that 77% of workers surveyed have dealt with immature colleagues, Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, told Money Magazine how to have a conversation about this.

“Try approaching that person one on one. … Calmly, without passing judgment, explain how his or her behavior is affecting your ability to work,” Haefner told the publication.

Your coworkers — or your boss, unfortunately — might act like they are years younger than they actually are, but doing things like addressing them and making sure you’re covered “work-wise” might just make it a lot easier to work with them on a daily basis.

Jane Burnett|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at jburnett@theladders.com.