Five Common Workplace Dilemmas

Rachel Zupek,

It's a Friday afternoon in the office. You're in the TGIF mood, looking forward to the weekend ahead. Fast-forward to Sunday. You're feeling a little (or a lot) depressed, dreading the thought of going back to work the next day. You've thought about calling in sick (even though you're not), you've bent the ears of friends and family about workplace issues, and you've re-lived hurtful comments or snubs from bosses and co-workers. What gives?

Many people aren't in touch with why they are feeling either indifferent or dreadful when they're at work or thinking about their work, says Steve McCann, founder of Florida-based McCann Research Corporation, an organization committed to the discovery and development of human potential.

When you recognize your negative feelings toward work, you need to identify the reasons that are causing it, McCann says.

"It's simple cause and effect," he says. "You've identified the effect, which are feelings of dread or disinterest concerning your work environment. Now it's critical to find the cause. As you change the cause, you change the effect. It's that simple."

Changing the personal effects of your work is more important than you might think. The cost of negativity in the workplace is around $3 billion annually, according to an estimate by the U.S. Department of Labor. Not only are negative work environments costly for the company -- they're also taxing on your health and quality of life.

"Toxic work environments can take a real toll on your mental, emotional and physical health," says Robin F. Bond, Esq., founder and managing partner of Philadelphia-based employment law firm, Transition Strategies, LLC. "Take care of yourself with diet, exercise, rest, life balance, massage and talk therapy. Changing your attitude and the way you look at a situation is one thing you and only you can control."

Ready to control a work environment that's got you down? Here are five of the most common workplace dilemmas, and how you can deal.

Dilemma: Negativity

Solution: Different personalities, cultures and work ethics can make for some tension and negativity that can affect the workplace. Follow McCann's five-step formula to create optimism in your work environment.

  • Determine the negative norm that needs to be changed.
  • Determine what it is costing your company.
  • Conduct credible research to support these costs.
  • Determine the new positive norm to be implemented.
  • Create an implementation strategy for success.

Dilemma: Bosses who sabotage your career

Solution: "Document for yourself what you do," Bond says. "Be politically savvy in not out-shining the boss and showing the boss in a professional manner how your contributions bring value to him/her, as well as to the bottom line by which you all are measured."

Dilemma: Office gossip

Solution: Gossip not only contributes to hostility and pessimism in the workplace, but it also causes 'cliques' within the company. To better this situation, management should confront the issue, McCann says. Provide statistics on how gossip negatively affects people and take action by putting up flyers that say "No Gossip Zone" in conspicuous areas.

"When an approach like this is used, the negative ones weed themselves out," McCann says. "They either conform to a more positive work environment or they move on to a place where their kind of behavior is accepted."

Dilemma: Bullying

Solution: More than half of American workers have been the victim of, or heard about, supervisors/employers behaving abusively by making sarcastic jokes/teasing remarks, rudely interrupting, publicly criticizing, giving dirty looks, yelling at subordinates or ignoring them as if they were invisible, according to a 2007 survey by the Employment Law Alliance. Not to mention the 44 percent who said they have worked for a supervisor or employer whom they consider abusive.

"Document and collect evidence of bullying incidents. If workplace violence is an issue, do not delay in reporting concerns to your boss or HR," Bond says. If it's a personality conflict, confront the bully one-on-one in private about what was done and what's not acceptable, Bond adds. Seek legal counsel for strategy support.

Dilemma: Handling change

Solution: Today's workforce faces more changes than ever -- technology, turnover, changing policies and procedures, down-sizing and right-sizing are all just a sampling of the challenges that face us all, McCann says.

"When a company is experiencing change, it is critical to have open and honest communications throughout. It's an ideal time for interaction to understand how each employee is dealing with the change," McCann says. "Open communication is vital to success."

Next: 5 Worst Workplace Habits >>

Copyright 2007

Read Full Story