Blog Series: 6 Workplace Challenges You Can’t Escape

I almost forgot that there is one more post left in the series (just kidding). I was going to name this article – The shit that goes down in the office after you have settled. But, I remember that “shit” is a bad word. Right? Wrong?


Having gone through three exciting, consecutive weeks of this series, I hope it enlightened you and brought some new perspective for your career goals.

Did you grasp anything substantial from the last three blog posts from the series? Check them out; #1 mistake people make when choosing an are of study, you have the qualifications now what and, transitioning to the world of work.

I would like to culminate the series by highlighting some of the issues that you might have to circumvent in the workplace after you have settled. Essentially, after working at an institution for a period of time, it is customary for persons to become comfortable with the organizational culture and adopt the status quo.

What you would willingly do during the first 6 months to one year becomes an issue after a few years..

Ideally, you will experience significant challenges even after working at an establishment for a specific period of time. There are common occurrences which will be encountered that cannot be ignored and you have to pay close attention to what can affect your performance and by extension your professional growth.

Based on the Hawthorne experiment conducted by George Elton Mayo, he concluded that people are motivated mostly by recognition and less by money and that their attitude towards work is based on groups.

Some of the additional challenges that you have to encounter include:

1. Lack of recognition and appreciation: Human resource expert, Susan Heathfield mentioned that “although you may not give out monetary rewards each time recognition is given, the point is that you are consistently giving recognition. It doesn’t cost a manager anything but time to stop and say thank you for a job well done. The impact on an employee can be quite profound, especially if this wasn’t being done at all in the past.”

She is right. I prefer to be respected and recognized for what I have done. It is very easy to lose motivation when you are working your butt off and not receiving any acknowledgment for it. There is such a thin line between a satisfied worker and a dissatisfied worker.

Likewise, Dale Carnegie,  a Leadership Training Guru said “people work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise and rewards.”

Just imagine a work-force who thrives due to the anticipated rewards. Simply implementing wins for accomplishing certain goals can boost employee morale.

You may or may have not experience this, lack recognition and rewards system in the workplace. As an organization it is important that you implement systems to avoid this sort of behaviour. Some recognitions strategies are:

  • Introduce employee of the month, quarter or year
  • If you have a small staff, give birthday cakes
  • Reward employees who are consistently early for work
  • Recognize employees for long service
  • Introduce staff events such as outings and dinners to show appreciation.

You can read more about the Hawthorne Experiment here. 

2. Conflict: Can you really avoid confrontations at work? Have you experienced conflict at work? What did you do? How good is your ignoring game?

In 2008, a study was commissioned by CCP Inc; Myers Briggs Assessment and the Thomas-Kilman conflict which found that 85% of employees at all levels have experienced some degree of conflict. This study on workplace conflict was done in the USA, Europe and Fellipelli Brazil with 5000 respondents. What was interesting is that the research compared conflict across cultures and the main determinants of conflict were personality clashes and egos (49%), stress (34%) and workload (33%).

Most times, colleagues engage in conflict over simple matters which are sometimes ignored. This affects work processes therefore, management should focus on resolving conflict sooner to receive more positive outcomes. The study found the majority of employees never received conflict resolution training and thus, a lot of time is spent dealing with conflict.

The myriad of conflict is inevitable, but implementing mitigation strategies can significantly improve performance in yourself and the overall organization. Some ways to do so include collaborate, compromise, accommodate, compete and avoid.

If you cannot adapt, it will affect your progress. You will encounter conflict in your daily life, but the key is knowing how to handle it.

3. Ethics in the workplace: My financial management lecturer, Mr. Raghunandan used to emphasize on being ethical in whatever you do at work and that your integrity will take you very far. I can almost see his facial expression when he mentioned the word “ethics” whilst simultaneously eye balling me.

But what is ethics? Ethics basically refers to doing right over wrong – your moral principles that influences a person’s behaviour or conduct of an activity. Business Dictionary delves further to describe ethics as “a fundamental principles or decent human conduct. It includes study of universal value such as essential equality of all men, women, human, natural rights, obedience of law of the land, concern for health and safety and eventually the environment.” We should be ethical in typically everything that we do, choosing to do right regardless of the circumstances.

Practicing ethics is two-way street, by the employer and employee. Learn the efficacy of ethics in the workplace.

It difficult for people practice to ethics since it is not inculcated in the workplace. However, using sound judgment as employees, you can practice it. There will be times when you will be faced with tough decisions and need to make a choice based on ethics and not on likability. At the end of the day, you have to cover your ass (CYA). Also, there will be situations where you can beat the system and escape, but you have to practice integrity in the workplace

Try your best to avoid these ethical practices and be honest at all times.

4. Favouritism: In a study by Georgetown University McDonough School of Business , found that 92% of business executives have seen favouritism in employees and a quarter of the polled execs admitted to practicing favouritism themselves.

Have you ever been your bosses’ favourite? How did you feel about this? Did other staff resent you?

Favouritism is absolutely seen in most offices, big or small,” says career coach – Ryan Kahn.

Sometimes, leaders are unaware that they show favouritism to a specific employee. They may be particularly pleased with their performance or attitude and thus be drawn to them. Or that employee exemplifies someone who is efficient and shows more interest.

Issues arise when favouritism is displayed for no relevant reason. When the real test arises, the favourite might end-up on the losing end of the stick. Practicing favouritism can create conflict in the workplace among other staff.

In most cases, it is not intentional but it is evident and you should know the dangers of favouritism at work.

5. Insufficient management support: The worse thing I experienced was an inexperienced boss who lacked direction and did not support any of the recommendations put forward. When you are hired to implement change but cannot progress since you are not receiving the support from management, you are compelled to stop.

Many projects fail due to lack of support and leadership from top management.

Sustainable changes in any entity require acceptance and approval at all levels – mostly management. Sometimes, management may reject your input without taking the time to review all the details.

Rejection of recommendations that can potentially help improve existing processes is a key cause of employee de-motivation.

However, you can learn how to deal with this by:

  • Researching which challenges they are faced with. Perhaps there are other reasons for their lack of support.
  • Meeting with them to understand and offer solutions to challenges.
  • Show them the short-term and long-term ROI

Also bear in mind that, there are many limitations and changes in an organization can take time to materialize.

6. Lack of input in company decisions: When an organization involve employees, including lower level staff in decision making, it creates a sense of belonging and ownership thus, results in increased productivity.  As a new hire, you might not have in-depth knowledge of the organization or be at a level of seniority significant enough to impact change, but however, your opinion is relevant. Some entities ignore feedback from staff due to their position. Most times, the front line staff are the ones who experience the day to day operations of the business. This affects the level of motivation.

For example; in hospitality industry, front-desk staff are the first-point of contact with the guest and can either make or break their stay. Likewise, a concierge also deals with the nitti gritties of the guest experience can therefore make suggestions for improvements.

Regardless of what you might encounter, still learn to get along with everyone, be willing to push more, remain professional and remember your goal. Put aside personal differences and help grow your organization which will in turn help you to grow.

Be sure to let me know which of the six situations you have experienced (or is experiencing). Share in the comments below.