Employee rights: What to do when you face a challenge at work
Thursday, June 02, 2016
Having an issue with a co-worker can be a time-consuming, energy-draining, unproductive challenge. Whether you feel like you are being treated unfairly, unprofessionally or both, it can be frustrating and difficult to face personnel problems at work.
It can be even more exhausting if you do not have an human resources office or your HR office is set up for more administrative than employee relations work. Thus, before you lose more sleep or add more stress to your life, consider this guidance from HR professionals.
Find two sounding boards
While it is easy to ask the person in the cubicle next to you for his opinion on the situation, he may not have the most unbiased perspective. Similarly, your neighbor who knows nothing about your work environment may not provide the most informed advice either.
Thus, listen to both and note the common ground and the big differences. Do they both think the behavior is unreasonable? Does your co-worker think you are blowing it out of proportion? Does your neighbor think it might be unlawful? Do they both suggest you talk to the person's supervisor?
Measuring the two opinions can help provide a starting point for your next step.
Write it down
While documenting via email has its pros and cons, writing things down can help you gain a little perspective on the situation. Draft one or two sentences that explain the issue, then note how often it happens, who is around when it does, when it happens and any other relevant facts.
After you have listed out the objective parts of the issue, list the subjective ones: How does it make you feel? Why do you think it is happening? Is it affecting anyone else?
Once you have taken the time to write it all in one place, give yourself some time, then review it. If it accurately captures how you feel, then take it to the person who is supposed to help you in this situation — HR, your boss, whomever it may be. Set some time to talk to them about it.
Know what you do (not) want
While acknowledging the issue and taking the first steps to address it can be challenging, the next biggest challenge is the resolution. Come up with a general idea of what will satisfy you before you start down this path.
In some cases, you may find something as simple as talking it out would make you happy. In others, it may be nothing short of the person or you leaving the company. Either way, it is important to have at least some idea of what you want so you can be better prepared when options are discussed with you. Walking in and just handing it all over to someone else to solve leaves you with no input into resolving the problem.
Do not give up your power at this stage in the process.
While this is a great process to follow, depending upon the severity of the issue, you may have to work through it pretty quickly. If someone does something drastic, take a moment to collect your thoughts and then seek help right away. If it is an ongoing annoyance, take the time to articulate the issue and invest the energy in the resolution.
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