The following is a guest article by Joseph Gustav of Pounding the Pavement. Enjoy!
There are some situations that employees dread: the evil necessities. These situations are uncomfortable for many people because one has to assert oneself and often do so to authority figures. However, they are necessary to get what you want, need, and deserve as an employee. Here are some of the most common awkward work situations and how to approach them with confidence — and handle them professionally.
Asking for a raise. Money matters are always hard to deal with, especially when asking for more of it. First off, research your company or firm’s pay raise policies. There may be a process for asking for pay raises, or you may receive an annual pay bump automatically. After you’ve scheduled a meeting, prepare your case — prove that the work you’ve done is valuable enough to warrant a pay increase. Your request should be based on reasons of merit rather than your own financial status. Be straightforward, be specific about what you’re asking for, and if your request is denied, do not take it personally. Instead, ask what you need to do work-wise to make it happen in the future.
Disagreeing with a supervisor. Though this may be extremely uncomfortable, it is your duty as an employee to let your boss know when you think a decision of theirs is hurting the company. When approaching your supervisor, be completely objective; anger and defensiveness have no place in these kinds of meetings (and I emphasize meeting, NOT confrontation). First, think through as much as you can your boss’ perspective on the issue. During the meeting, let him or her have the floor first and voice their reasons. Ask questions to help you understand better their rationale. Then present your case as diplomatically as possible. If it becomes clear that your boss agrees, ask for a follow-up meeting to work further on the topic.
Expressing an unpopular opinion. Again, this is not easy, but necessary for the good of the company. Telling a boss their new plan has serious holes in it or telling a co-worker their work is subpar and hurting the firm is an unenviable task. The best way to go about it — without hurting feelings — is to justify your responses and offer solutions. Come off as a critical thinker looking out for what’s best for everybody rather than someone looking to attack others’ work and person. Be tactful, not caustic, be honest, and be positive.
Alerting a supervisor to a troubling situation. You’ve got a situation on your hands, like a deadline will be missed, you may lose a client, or your numbers are down, and your boss doesn’t know yet. It’s always better to be proactive and up-front rather than hide; doing so will increase the ramifications of the event and show you to have less integrity and professionalism. Be responsible and acknowledge your part in the situation, be direct and forthcoming about the situation, and then offer solutions. More often than not, your boss will be all ears to work with you on righting what is going wrong.
Joseph Gustav regularly shares his insights as a guest blogger for Pounding the Pavement. He also works as a contributing writer for Guide to Career Education on topics related to completing your high school diploma at home.