CAREER FILES: Responding to workplace criticism like an absolute boss

CAREER FILES: Responding to workplace criticism like an absolute boss

What should you do if you have a colleague that you clash with?

I'm a big fan of worry about the things that you can control and don't worry about those that you can’t. Work out what areas are frustrating you or impacting your work and don't let it impact on you too personally.

Ultimately there are a lot of things you can't change in the workplace. In any role or workplace, there will always be a colleague you clash with, someone that you don’t like. People leave organisations because they don’t like their line manager. But in any situation, there’s always going to be people who are tricky or difficult to deal with.

So assess your situation, determine if it needs to be escalated. If you do need support, often chatting to a mentor and saying, ‘Hey, you know, I'm really struggling to work with someone. Do you have any tips on how to handle dealing with X, Y, and Z?’

Ultimately, you can have a conversation directly with the person you clash with and say, ‘I'm really struggling with…’ whatever the specific is. You can say ‘It would really help me if you could do X, Y, Z instead of A,B,C’.

Also acknowledging everyone has different working styles, so it’s partly trial and error, working out different approaches that will suit each individual. Openly communicating around different work styles and actually ask the question, ‘does this work style work for you or would you rather do the meetings in the morning?’ Structuring it so that both parties can work successfully.

How can you maintain a healthy work-life balance without getting your employer offside?

Setting the expectation very early on around what your values are. For example, if you're a working mum, ‘My kids are my biggest priority right now and I really value the opportunity to drop them at school. So I really just need that time every day, but I'm definitely going to log on after dinner to make up for that time.’

Or another example, I find running or Pilates really helps with my mental health and that's really important to me. I have to leave by 4.30 three days a week to get there.

Have that conversation with your employer around how this is actually going to help you be your best at work, this is what's going to help you succeed. Asking, are you happy for me to do that?

Maintaining healthy boundaries between work and home life can also mean setting time limits, making sure that you turn your work computer off at a certain time, setting restrictions on the hours that you work and making sure that once you are in your home time that you're dedicated to that home time.

What is the best way to respond to workplace criticism?

Firstly, know that most people get criticism in the workplace. Criticism is good, it means you're learning but make sure you’re extracting clear takeaways so for example ‘thank you so much for that feedback. Can you please give me advice on a way I can implement that behaviour or change how I do that moving forward?’ You need to work out what the action items are.


What should you do if you're being asked to perform duties outside your job description?

Assess if it's actually going to make you successful in the role. People will always have to performs tasks that fall outside their job description. As long as there are other people in the workplace doing it, it is often one of those things that you just have to do, provided it’s not making you feel uncomfortable and people aren’t undermining you.

Performing roles or tasks outside of your scope can sometimes be a positive thing because it shows you’re great at your job, so management is going to give you something extra as a trial to see how you go with it.

Just be conscious if it’s taking up a lot more time with your workload then you can have a conversation around that. But mainly just assessing what the job is. For example, a lot of people have different cleaning duties and those aren't in the job description but it’s just one of those admin tasks that might not be part of your core responsibilities, but everyone has to be across. 

What is the best way to approach a conversation around salary?

If you’re starting a new job and being asked about salary expectations, the best way to respond is to set the expectation on what you're looking for. For instance, you might say, ‘I’ve done some industry research and this is what I’m looking for…’ The main thing is just be confident with it. If you stutter in the delivery, people may question what you deserve. Just be confident, ‘I’m looking for $80,000 plus Super at the moment.’

Keep in mind, as well, some line managers won’t know the salary level. It's sometimes more HR that manages that process.

I think it is best to broach the topic in the second interview. And if they don’t actually ask the question in the second interview, you'll well within your rights to clarify, ‘I noticed that the salary for this role wasn’t advertised online, do you mind, what are the benchmarks for this role?’

But if you do have doubts about it or don’t know the salary at all, I would find out through the first phone screening - ‘Hello, I'm thinking of applying for the role. I noticed the salary wasn’t advertised and I know some roles in this space are at different levels. Do you have a bit of a guideline of what that might be before I spend my time applying for the role?’ Most of the time the salary will be advertised though.

If you’re already in a role, conversations around salary might occur a performance review, so it might be six months or twelve months. If the scope of your role has changed, that’s when you might be able to have that conversation.

You need to very much justify the reason. It's not just because you’ve been there for a year or two, it's got to be because your work is actually contributing to the success of X, Y, Z. For instance, ‘Over the last 12 months I've actually delivered a lot on this process or this campaign or this section, which is producing these great results.’ Often your line manager will recognise you have done a great job and agree you’re within your rights to ask for a raise.

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