By Essie Bester
The company you work for has decided to not appoint any new employees and your workload triples. Or you arrive at work and find out your boss has been asked to go. Perhaps your colleague has for the umpteenth time received credit for your hard work. Sound familiar? The good news is that it need not be a disaster. Stumbling blocks like these can often be minimised if you know how to address them.
Following are seven problems people have to contend with at work and what you can do about it:
You are inundated with work
If your workload has increased drastically, you have to discuss it with your manager.
What to do: Choose a quiet time, ask for an appointment and explain how your workload has become unmanageable and why.
To explain what is behind it, is helpful as your manager might not be familiar with the context. Make recommendations and ask your manager to help you prioritise.
Your boss resigns or is dismissed
Your boss leaves and you are worried that his substitute will not share your vision.
What to do: Remain calm. The new boss might be just as good or even better than your old boss. You won’t know until you have gotten to know him better. So wait before taking any drastic steps.
In the mean time you can do your best to help so that things in your department run smoothly. Offer to help the new manager and try to refrain from judging his style and competency until he has had the opportunity to establish himself.
The work you do differs from the one for which you applied
You were appointed as marketing director but it appears to be nothing more than makings calls to prospective clients. This work certainly is not that which you discussed during your interview.
What to do: Talk to your boss. Say something like: “When I was appointed for this post, we talked about the fact that it is mostly working with clients, with some administrative tasks. But in my first three months the work has entailed approximately 90% administration without much client interaction. Can we talk about what has changed and if there is a way to reform my work to look more like the work we talked about initially?”
Make sure your tone of voice is calm and cooperative, and that you don’t come across as frustrated or angry. Also make it clear that your purpose is problem-solving, and that you don’t just want to complain. After this discussion you will have a better idea of what to expect of this work in future and you can make decisions accordingly.
You are in continuous conflict with a difficult colleague
You try to be pleasant, but each conversation ends in differences of opinion and arguments. This makes it difficult to complete shared projects …
What to do: Firstly, get rid of your ego. You need not like your colleague, and you definitely need not “win” every interaction. You only have to work together. Remain pleasant. Serious efforts to create a better work relationship can make a difference.
But if not … Sometimes, merely realising that difficult people’s behaviour is about them and not about you, can make it easier for you to handle.
Your boss doesn’t notice the work that you do
You work yourself to a frazzle and win clients, but none of this registers on your manager’s radar.
What to do: Of course you expect your boss to notice your achievements himself. The reality however is that few managers are so tuned into your work as yourself. Don’t sit around and wait for your work to be noticed – become your own advocate!
Start by emphasising important successes. To subtly mention things, is not unnecessary boasting.
Take care to not overdo things. The pattern is what you want to concentrate on here: Does you boss usually think that you do good work and does he understand what your biggest contributions are?
You made a big mistake that harmed your team
You are human. Everyone makes a mistake now and then. However, if it is a big mistake that is highly visible (such as a wrong quotation in a media report), or expensive (such as losing a big account), it can be difficult to know how to look your boss in the eye.
What to do: Don’t try to shirk responsibility. Inform your manager about what happened as soon as possible. Make it clear that you understand that the mistake is a big problem.
Explain how you plan to alleviate the damage and to ensure that it won’t happen again. It will help your boss to evaluate how much you have learnt from the experience and how much confidence he can place in you in future.
You receive an unfavourable performance review
Your evaluation says” “Does not meet the expectations.” Nothing indicated that your performance was not up to standard. In fact, only last week your boss sent you an e-mail in which he praised you about your good work during the last project.
What to do: Too often in situations like these, people don’t really pay attention and find out what they should have done differently. They are too focused on defending themselves. For a good outcome it is essential that you understand your manager’s concerns, therefore listen attentively and ask enough questions.
Show that you take the feedback seriously by telling your manager what you intend doing about it.