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Whenever groups of people of different genders, ages and backgrounds are working together, the possibility of conflict exists. Whether you feel uncomfortable with a particular situation or you think you were wronged, it’s important to know how to handle the situation yourself, or when to escalate an issue to HR. Conny Manero has some tips.
Okay, here’s a good, common example: say you feel you have a heavy workload, or you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s no need to involve HR right away; talk to your manager first, bearing in mind it may take multiple meetings to get your issue resolved.
Very few managers know the work of their subordinates, whether they consist of an assistant or a team of people. They understand their job, and they know how to delegate, but from there on it’s up to the person or team to keep their manager informed of the details.
If your concerns are legit, and they still go unadressed, then you go to HR. To strengthen your case, prepare an overview of your responsibilities, and document times you might have stayed late, come in early, skipped lunch etc., to finish your work.
That was fairly easy, right? Well, here are a few other instances in which escalation to HR should be considered.
Problems with a co-worker
If you have problems with a co-worker, you should talk to that co-worker first before running to HR. Everyone has their own personality, and many lack awareness that certain personal characteristics offend other people.
If something bothers you, approach the other person, friendly and politely, and explain what troubles you. If, despite your best efforts, the co-worker doesn’t change his/her ways, then it might be time to ask HR to step in.
You’re being sexually harassed
Not cool. Ever. Sexual harassment is against the law and if you feel you are being harassed, HR will make short work of unwanted attention.
Be careful though that you don’t get someone unnecessarily in trouble. Some men and women express their friendly disposition by touching a co-worker on the arm or leg, or putting an arm around their friends’ shoulders in a gesture of familiarity.
It’s up to you to let that person know that you don’t appreciate such closeness. More often than not, that will be the end of the problem, but if not, HR should be informed of this unwanted attention.
In general, management and staff members are very courteous to each other, but certain people (whether employers or co-workers) tend to use abusive language.
Telling the person that he or she shouldn’t take such a tone with you could work, but more often than not being reprimanded might make matters worse.
Involving HR should be carefully planned; after all, if you were to complain to an HR representative and tell him of the abusive language, the other person might deny the allegation.
If you’re serious about reporting someone, try to involve a witness or record the confrontation with your phone. Just about every cellphone comes equipped with a microphone, and it’s easy to switch on the feature.
In the workplace, it’s not always easy to get along with everyone. And there will always be times when circumstances test your nerves. If and when that happens, it’s important to know when to involve HR and when to let it slide. You don’t want to come across as an easy target – but you don’t want everyone to be walking on eggshells around you, either.
Conny is a writer living in Toronto. She’s an avid reader, a keen ten-pin bowling player, and an advocate for shelter animals.
Have you ever had to escalate an issue to HR? How did you handle it? We’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment below.