Are you having trouble getting to work on time, handling a heavy workload, or dealing with a difficult co-worker? Whatever job challenge you’re facing, if it’s worrying you or getting you down, it’s important for you to take steps to improve the situation.
Consider these suggestions to help you overcome job challenges.
Why do something about it?
Although job challenges can be hard to deal with, working through them can help you become a stronger, more confident employee. You can learn to stand up for yourself or change a situation when someone or something at work is causing you stress or unhappiness.
A job challenge may get worse over time and usually doesn’t go away on its own. The sooner you begin to make changes in the situation or in how you respond to it, the easier it will be to handle.
Job challenges related to health, safety and human rights issues, such as bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination, are beyond the scope of this article. If you’re dealing with any of these issues, tell your supervisor. You have the right to work in an environment where your health, safety and human rights are protected.
Steps to handling the challenge
Think about the job challenge you’re dealing with. You may be able to improve the situation on your own by following these steps:
- Relax. Take a few deep breaths.
- Try to see the problem from all sides. Take responsibility for any of your actions or attitudes that might be part of the problem.
- Describe the problem like you’re explaining it to a friend. Write down your description.
- Brainstorm possible solutions.
- Make a list of good and bad points for the solutions you think are best.
- Choose one solution to try first.
- Break that solution down into smaller steps to see how your plan will work.
- Take action. Start with the first step.
Sample challenge: Having trouble keeping up with new technology
Chris has just re-entered the workforce after a long period of time and he’s having trouble keeping up with the new technology. How will he ever learn it all? He’s starting to feel stressed and it’s beginning to affect his work.
What could he do?
- Who could Chris talk to for ideas about how to cope?
- What could he do to become more comfortable with the technology?
- How could Chris use this situation to make a positive impression on his supervisor?
- Chris could talk to his supervisor about some extra training courses he may be able to take to upgrade his skills.
- By taking ownership of the problem and coming up with a solution, his supervisor will see that Chris is sincere about learning the skills he needs to do the job more effectively.
When to ask for help
It can be overwhelming to resolve workplace issues on your own, so it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. Knowing when you need help is a sign of maturity, wisdom, and strength. Start with people you trust, like your friends and family, your supervisor, a co-worker, or a counsellor. If your problem is more personal (such as substance abuse or problems at home), consider talking to a personal counsellor. Counsellors can help by offering support, directing you to other professionals or just offering an ear to listen.
Talking to your supervisor
If you decide to talk to your supervisor about the personal problem that is affecting your work, choose a time when your supervisor is not busy and has time to talk to you. Be prepared to discuss not only the problem but also possible solutions. Bring a list of possible solutions you have come up with and let your supervisor know about any actions you have taken to improve your situation. Ask for your supervisor’s help in resolving your situation.
Your employer may not want to or be able to help you. Don’t be discouraged if that happens. Not all employers will have the time or the interest to help you. Be brief when explaining your personal problem. In other words, don’t tell your life story. Identify the problem and tell your supervisor the steps you’ve tried to resolve the problem and how that has helped. Then ask your supervisor for the help you would like from him or her, and explain how you think it will make a difference.
You can overcome job challenges
You’re on your way to dealing with a job challenge when you realize the situation needs to change. By taking responsibility for your own issues, coming up with a plan and asking for help when you need it, you’re demonstrating both your effectiveness as a co-worker and your value as an employee.
For help with challenges, visit these websites:
- Money Mentors provides information and support services related to financial pressures.
- Alberta Employment Standards deals with employee rights.
- Alberta Human Rights deals with sexual harassment or discrimination.
- Alberta Occupational Health and Safety provides occupational health and safety information.