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Herzing Staff

5 Ways to Respond to Tricky Work Situations

Negative situations can challenge you, but a solution is almost always available! Although you hopefully do not encounter these situations, these experiences will help you grow professionally.

You’ve accomplished your dreams by graduating, landing a job and starting your new career when you stumble into a tricky situation. Your ability to remain professional will be tested throughout your career, and your future success and professional growth could depend on how you respond to these challenges. Here’s some advice for navigating common workplace “tests”.

1. Someone does not give credit for your work

You worked hard on a project for work and when it comes to thanking those for their hard work, you get left out. If someone knowingly took full credit for your hard work or doesn’t acknowledge your contributions, it’s important to assess the situation. Not everything needs to be addressed and not every incident needs to be escalated. If you decide to bring up the issue, privately approach the person, have a calm discussion and express why you are concerned. If they don’t agree to give credit or if this behavior continues, you could bring it up with your manager and let them handle it from there. 

2. Giving a peer negative feedback

Constructive criticism is an essential building block of becoming better, but it must be delivered in the right way. Remember: you are not in a higher position than your peer, so delivering a critique designed to help the person and/or the team should not sound like they are being scolded. Make space to hear them out, while also clearly expressing your concerns in a non-judgmental way.

3. Being asked to work during a scheduling conflict

When it comes to preventing burnout, maintaining a good work-life balance is key. Your job is important but so is your mental health. If you need to cover a shift or stay late from time to time, that can be okay if you do not have any other obligations and/or choose to do so. If it becomes a reoccurring cycle, you should establish the professional boundaries that protect your balance and allows you to fulfill your priorities and obligations outside of work. This can start with sharing your thoughts with a supervisor.

4. Your supervisor leaves or is fired

Whether good or bad, your supervisor might eventually leave or be fired, leaving you to temporarily handle new responsibilities. Be positive and view this as a personal and professional growth opportunity. Prove your ability by taking on more roles, managing effectively and remaining calm, cool, and collected as the vacancy is addressed internally. Once a new boss is hired, be patient and help make a smooth transition. Depending on your qualifications and career goals, the new supervisor may even be you!

5. Your major mistake impacts the team

Everyone makes mistakes, but it is up to you to handle an error on your end in a professional manner. Your first instinct might be to cover up or solve the mistake privately, but not telling your team could lead to a snowball effect. Apologize and address the mistake with your team so everyone can be on the same page. From there, you all can work collectively to ensure it is resolved and develop the processes to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

Negative situations can challenge you, but a solution is almost always available! Keep in mind that practice makes perfect. Although you hopefully do not encounter these situations, these experiences will help you grow professionally.

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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