Texas Exes Vice President of Administration Kim Borron takes questions on navigating your workplace.
If one of my coworkers is especially difficult to work with, what can I do to remedy the situation and make working together easier?
There are entire seminars devoted to this subject, so I’m going to be very general with my response. First of all, do something. Ignoring a problem won’t make it go away.
I normally recommend being direct (and professional) with the difficult coworker by letting them know what is bothering you. Chances are they’re clueless, and they just need someone forthright to enlighten them. Provide specific examples so they’ll understand what you’re talking about.
If that doesn’t work, notify your manager that the difficult employee is impeding your work performance. Provide details while keeping your emotions in check, and let your manager know you’ve tried handling it yourself without success, so you need assistance. If your manager agrees that you have a valid complaint, but ignores your request to take action, approach her again or bring the situation to HR’s attention.
Also consider your own reaction. Is this person’s behavior really worth your time, energy, and stress? Is the behavior really affecting you, or are you letting it affect you? You may not be able to change this person, but you do have the ability to change your perception.
When is it appropriate to ask for a raise or promotion, and should it depend more on the length of time you’ve been with the company or the amount of work you’ve put in?
I typically don’t advocate asking for a raise, but I do advocate making sure your manager recognizes any significant work you’ve accomplished by going beyond expectations, especially if you’ve generated revenue or saved your company money.
With that said, there are many factors to evaluate when considering asking for a raise:
- How is your company doing financially? If there is a hiring or wage freeze, this is not an appropriate time to ask for a raise.
- How long has it been since your last raise? It isn’t that unusual in this economy to go several years without one.
- Does your company conduct performance reviews, and are raises usually linked to them?
- Have you been given a significant increase in responsibility since your last pay raise or hire date? If your company doesn’t do performance reviews, I recommend making an appointment with your manager to discuss your achievements and ask for feedback.
- Have you figured your market worth by measuring your salary against comparables? Realize that an account executive in a Fortune 500 company in New York City isn’t going to make the same as an account executive in rural Texas—and know that the same job title may not always carry the same responsibilities.
- Consider what will happen if your request is denied. Are you going to have a negative attitude and hold a grudge against your company? Are you going to be able to find another job easily?
After considering these questions, if you feel asking for a raise is reasonable, do so with professionalism—and make sure you can justify why you deserve it. Usually patience pays off, but you also need to be an advocate for yourself.
Texas Exes Vice President of Administration Kim Borron has more than 15 years of experience in the HR field at companies and nonprofits with 20 to 7,300 employees.
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