The Most Common Workplace Issues and How to Deal With Them

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Here’s how to tackle the most common workplace issues that may arise and how to come out swinging like a pro.

Let’s face it. You’re bound to run into some problems in the workplace when you're with the same people for more time than anyone else.

Though we try our hardest to put on our most professional, unemotional foot forward at work, these issues arise and they come in all forms. They may be caused by your coworkers or managers. They may be personal problems, such as working way too hard and feeling undervalued (think: underpaid).

Here’s how to tackle the most common issues that may arise and how to come out swinging like a pro.

Your Colleague Badmouths Your Peers

Having a colleague with loose lips can be a sticky situation, especially if he’s talking about your other coworkers. If he’s your boss, there’s not a lot that can be done about it.

If you have an HR department, you should take your concerns there and let them manage the situation. If not, you can try to confront your manager about it. Try to be discrete about it, if possible.

For example, if your manager is talking about what a slow worker Betty Sue is, you can explain that everyone works at his or her own pace, and if its good quality work and gets done on time, what difference does it make? Trying to defend the co-workers he has a gripe with can show that you value the other members of your team and prefer to not hear about their faults. Hopefully this can help shut down this type of behavior.

Related Artice: 5 Signs of a Bad Manager

You Can’t Stay Focused

In this day and age, we are much more distracted by all the instant social channels around us. These distractions can cause our work to be done at a slower and more frustrating pace. The best thing to do in this scenario is to relearn how to focus on one task until you reach a set stopping point. In order to do this, it is helpful to silence our weaknesses. You may not be able to turn off your phone or internet, but instead you can put aside 5-10 minutes every couple hours to check your email and phone. In order for this approach to work, you need self-discipline!

If your social media habit is second nature and you end up forgetting your little rule, you may benefit from a URL redirect plugin. That way, even if you slip up, the plug in will remind you by redirecting the intended website to your company’s homepage or the like. I also love Chrome extension StayFocusd, which blocks access to a website after a certain period of time is allotted.

Too Much Small Talk in the Office

Now that you’ve got your social media addiction under control, you are ready to tackle your workload. But wait, your workspace mate is going on and on about what they ate for breakfast and last night’s final Jeopardy answer and how he just can’t believe the ending of Grey’s Anatomy. What’s a diligent worker like you to do?

Some offices have a “shared space” design where employees sit in a communal room with little separation from their colleagues. This is said to improve the work environment, according to a thread on CareerDean, but for some, this can hinder productivity, especially when you share a space with Chatty Cathy.

Here’s where a set of headphones can come in handy. Rock the tunes or just pretend. This should send the message to your colleague that you are “in the zone,” and is probably the easiest way out of this situation.

But let’s say you leave your headphones at home one day, have a deadline to meet, and you just cannot afford any distractions. A polite explanation that you have some work to get done but would love to hear about his family reunion during your lunch break, can help provide you the quiet time you need to work while still maintaining a good relationship with your co-worker.

Say you’re not the type who can easily zone out the conversation’s of the people next to you, or are easily distracted by a busy work environment. You’re the type that works well in an empty, quiet office. You may want to seek guidance from your manager.

Some companies have designated “quiet rooms” for you to reserve if communal space is not your thing. These rooms are not permanent, however, and are best used when it’s “crunch time”. If your company does not have quiet rooms yet, you may want to suggest that they adopt the idea for those that benefit from a quieter work space. But of course make it clear that you appreciate the idea of a communal area, but the ability to be able to temporarily work in solitude can be just as effective for some.

Related Article: Leadership of Champions: How to Actively Create Your Company Culture

There’s Drama at the Workplace

So you’ve got a Debbie Downer in your office. Not only can this type bring down workplace morale, but if this person is in a leadership position, it can also affect other workers’ progress. Usually this behavior is temporary and is caused by something going on in his or her personal life. If your co-worker is going through a tough time, it is best to encourage him and lend a listening ear.

Providing a place for your co-worker to air his frustrations and then move on to work can help him get some steam off his chest before tackling a work project. Make sure the encouragement you provide also includes an incentive to getting work done in a positive manner. Like, “things may be hard at home, but let’s focus on this next deadline with our heads in the game and we can have something to celebrate when we’re done.”

If it’s happening for too long, you may want to talk to him/her or your manager and suggest a temporary leave. No one wants to be brought down by some emotional drama from a colleague that is just too overwhelming to handle. Some people need to take a break to focus on them. The work can come later.

Your Co-Worker is Stubborn

Then there’s the stubborn co-worker, who, according to CareerDean, just can’t take any type of criticism, even when it’s concrete. “No, 2+2 does not equal 5, Allen!” Door slam. It’s best to approach Allen by not making him feel dumb, but rather by conveying that you trust his work but this particular code is a bit iffy. “Allen, we sat around and crunched the numbers. We double and triple checked. We even used a calculator. 2+2 equals 4, not 5. We’re sure it was an honest mistake.” And hope that it doesn’t carry on or repeat from there.

Some of these stubborn guys are simply not easy to get along with. If the complaints come from all sides, it’s possible that management will need to make a change. They won’t, however, unless you approach them with specific concerns, and you may have to do so as a team.

So there you have it, five issues that plague the best of us in our work environments. While this only scratches the surface of the work environments you're likely to encounter in the course of your career, these solutions hopefully will make you for a better employee. Perhaps one day, you'll even become manager. With these rules of thumb, you're one step closer.

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