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Agony Aunt helps you to deal with workplace problems

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Being side-lined

Hi, I am a 32-year-old male and I am enrolled in a PhD program. Off late, I feel like my colleagues and professor’s behaviour towards me has changed. They circle me out and are biased against me. I think they dislike me and are forming a group against me. I haven’t done anything to instigate this behaviour. What should I do?

Ans: It is essential to determine the authenticity of this feeing because at times we tend to believe the worst if we have just had a glimpse of certain mistreatment. If you have a friend in the program have a conversation with her/him so that you can know with some certainty what the case is. in absence of a friend, you can approach your professors and discuss your concern and get the matter sorted before it becomes a concern and starts to affect your work performance.


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Delayed promotion

I was promoted from a junior level manager to a senior level after the previous manager retired recently. I deserve the promotion and everyone around are aware of the same. However, due to sudden news of the manager’s early retirement and hasty decision of the company to promote me has left me in a state where I am unable to meet the new role requirements as well as adapt to the change in relationships with colleagues. This causes sleepless nights at times. Past one month has been very difficult in terms of my mental wellbeing. 

Ans: The stress is coming from the place of personal expectations as well as how are you being perceived by others. Firstly, it is important to gradually ease into the role of new managerial post so that you are comfortable in your own skin rather than setting some standards depending on how people previously in the same post have worked. Seek help from fellow seniors wherever required so that you learn more about the role. The change in relationship with the colleagues could also be worked upon by accepting that there will be some degree of shift in the dynamics but it doesn’t have to turn out to be a disaster or you see in a bad light. the hierarchical shift shouldn’t interfere in work by either you are favouring someone or single out someone due to your personal bias. As long as you remain professional and fair, things will not affect your equations with colleagues.

The blame games

I am starting to familiarise myself with this new phenomenon at workplace called ‘blame culture’. I was talking to my colleague about it the other day and realised that knowingly or unknowingly we were being a part of this culture. We are afraid to get things wrong or even admitting that we made a mistake is a monumental task for us. This has been going on from a very junior level to higher levels and I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t want to continue being in this pattern but am unable to find an out. Any tips to work on this?

Ans: the only connotation associated with making mistakes is a negative one, and this creates a lot of anxiety amongst all of us, thus resulting in avoiding making mistakes and at times even admitting them at times. In order to break this pattern, the general anxiety towards making errors need to be kept in check as it pressurises one to always perform without any scope for errors. As humans, we have the tendency to make certain errors but fixating only on the error does not give us solutions. In addition to this, focusing on only avoiding the errors somewhere diminishes the work productivity as well. Repeatedly avoiding admitting making errors also leads to complacency with this unhelpful behaviour. It is important to focus on working well and putting in 100% effort rather than worrying about making errors.

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Overpowering seniors

I work in the legal department as an administrator and junior researcher. There are seven seniors whom I have to report throughout the day with different researchers that each of them requests individually. I am constantly swarmed with work and feel that due to their internal power struggles they take it out on me and my colleagues. I might reach burnout soon if this continues. 

Ans: There is an urgent need to communicate about this dissatisfaction that you are experiencing at work to your seniors as it will eventually affect the work productivity. At your position, you may not be able to prioritize one senior over the other hence bringing it to their notice that their internal conflicts are resulting in scapegoating the researchers. Together with your fellow team members, as well as the seniors, need to rectify the situation so as to resolve the negativity which is set in.