PROBLEMS" AT WORK
among co-workers, supervisors and other employees on the job are usually
complex and sometimes puzzling. The solutions for relationship problems
are rarely simple, but they can generally be found if you approach the
situation with a positive attitude.
If you have "people problems" at work,
scan the following list of common problems and see if you can apply some
of the suggestions to your situation.
My co-workers seem distant and
People who are very quiet or
self-sufficient sometimes forget that their silence may be
interpreted as aloofness, indifference or hostility. Take the first
step. Greet everyone pleasantly every day. Talk to people even
though it may feel a bit awkward at first. To avoid
misunderstandings, communicate frequently and openly. Soon others
will be communicating freely and openly with you—it's hard to remain
gruff when someone is smiling at you!
My supervisor doesn't give me enough
direction or feedback.
Tactfully and pleasantly, ask your
supervisor to explain the required tasks or supply a written
description of them. At an opportune moment, request feedback on
your work. Then graciously accept any suggestions for improvement,
and comment on how helpful the feedback has been.
Find ways to give yourself frequent
feedback. Your self-evaluation might include a daily list of
accomplishments or deadlines met.
My skills and abilities are
Look for ways to make your job grow
into one that is more challenging. Discuss the organization's goals
and objectives with your employer. See if there are ways you can
contribute more: offer to assume more responsibility, provide
suggestions for improvements, make changes, do something others have
neglected. For more ideas, see the tip sheet Job Enrichment
My co-worker is very critical of
others, including me.
Tackle the situation head on by
discussing the problem with your co-worker. Listen to his or her
side of the story. If the complaints are justified, discuss how you
can work together to change things. If the complaints are not
justified, explain why the person's behaviour is a problem—it
damages morale and therefore reduces team productivity. State
clearly and frankly what will happen if the behaviour doesn't stop,
and follow through.
I am being hounded and treated
unfairly by my supervisor.
Discuss the problem in private with
your supervisor as soon as possible. State your feelings openly and
frankly. Avoid accusing or getting angry. Listen carefully to what
your supervisor has to say. Try to work out a solution that is
acceptable to both of you. Then do your best to make sure your
actions are in line with your agreement.
If the situation doesn't improve
after a few weeks, go to human resources personnel or your
supervisor's boss and request a two-way or three-way discussion of
the problem. State your case to the best of your ability and listen
carefully to the others.
If the problem continues, you can
lodge a formal complaint with the Human Rights Commission, formally
request a transfer, or start job-hunting. Some work situations are
just too difficult to tolerate. An ongoing negative atmosphere is
unhealthy for you, and will destroy your future with the company
Two of my co-workers dislike each
other, and I am caught in the middle.
Stay as neutral as possible. If you
side with one or the other, you damage your relationship with one
and reduce the productivity of the team. Suggest to each of them
that they seek help in solving their working relationship problem,
and let them know that you have made the same suggestion to both of
My co-workers are mean-spirited and
Examine your own behaviour first. Do
your co-workers have good reason to feel jealous or resentful? If
so, change your behaviour before you expect them to change. Do your
best to be as generous and cooperative with them as you would like
them to be with you.
If, after a reasonable time, there
is no change in their behaviour, discuss the situation with your
supervisor or someone else you trust and respect. Try their
suggestions. If your relationship with your co-workers still fails
to improve, you may have to ask for a transfer and/or start looking
for another job. In your new job, do your best to establish better
working relationships from the start.
I am running into a problem I can't
Talk to someone you respect who is
skilled at handling people. Your working environment is as much your
responsibility as anyone else's.
ADVANCED EDUCATION AND CAREER DEVELOPMENT