How to Handle Tough Situations at Work
A Manager's Guide to Over 100 Testing Situations

By Ros Jay
Pearson Education Limited / Prentice Hall
June 2003
ISBN: 0-273-65603-1
214 Pages, 6 1/4" x 9 ľ"
$37.50 paper original

Every day of their working lives managers face situations which call upon their skills, experience and judgment in making decisions. Some of these decisions are relatively straightforward, but others are less savory. These decisions inevitably involve people- Should I and how do I confront a poor performer? How do I counsel someone who has just had a major trauma at home? How do I cope with a bully? Can I, should I, how do I fire someone? Most books for managers shy away from the unsavoury areas of discipline and traditionally the first port of call for advice has been the HR Department.

How to Handle Tough Situations tackles difficult situations at work head-on. Readers will learn how to cope with problems at work so that they stay on the right side of the law, and act in the best interests of all parties wherever possible. It contains a tools, principles and techniques to help managers handle difficult workplace situations competently and professionally. Whatever the tough situation you face at work, this volume gives rational advice on what to do and how to help you tackle those difficult management dilemmas. It is illustrated with case studies that have been contributed by managers who have faced the situation and resolved it.

1: Your team The team is worried about threatened redundancies. Youíve been told you have to make redundancies in your department. Who should it be, and how should you do it? One of your top people is threatening to leave, and you canít afford to lose them. Youíve got nowhere to promote a star performer, but you donít want to lose them. You need to promote one person but you have several good candidates in your team. You have several candidates for promotion within your team but you want to give the job to an outsider. One of your team is very disgruntled at being passed over for promotion. Your team is trying really hard but thereís no money available for pay rises this year. You inherit a team of people who are hostile to you. Your team complain that they donít like your management style. The team is very hostile to senior management. Your team has to work with outsiders. You have to guide the team through major change. The team is badly overstretched. Your team is split over a controversial policy issue. Thereís a status battle within your team. There is a personality clash within your team. You have to handle an aggressive team meeting. Rumours and gossip are damaging morale and performance. You have to keep the team happy through an office move. Thereís a crisis and you have to manage the team through it. You have to deal with a system failure (computer crash, switchboard failure etc). The team is demoralised after a failure. The team is demoralised because business is bad generally. You have to give bad news to the team. You have to break bad news to an individual team member. One of your team is suffering badly from work related stress. One of your team is going through a personal crisis. Someone in the team is diagnosed with HIV. Someone in the team is seriously ill or dies. A top performer suddenly goes off form.

A team memberís absenteeism is getting worse. One of your team members is underperforming mildly. You donít want to discipline them, but you need them to improve. One of your team resigns impulsively. A weak member of the team is convinced they are really good at the job. A team member does the job fine, but they donít get on with the rest of the department. Someone is good but in the wrong job. A member of staff seems impossible to motivate. Someone on the team has a persistently negative attitude. You decide your really donít like one of your team. You realise youíve hired a complete nutter. Youíre asked to give a reference for someone you believe is a complete nutter. One of your team is in disgrace. Someone on your team is having an affair. You need to sack someone. One of your team has made a mistake which has cost the company millions of pounds. Someone on your team repeatedly bends the rules. You have to discipline a team member who is also a friend. Someone on your team is drinking heavily. One of your team loses their driving licence, which they need to do the job. It seems one of your team has been stealing. You find one of your team is on the fiddle. You discover one of your team members has a dodgy police record. You discover one of your team gave false qualifications/false references when they got the job.

2: Your managers You think your boss is rubbish. You donít like your boss. The boss is picking on you personally. Your boss is prejudiced against you. Your boss expects you to be a workaholic but you have family commitments and canít keep working late. Your boss seems to think youíre permanently on call. Your boss is having a tough time at home or work and is taking it out on you. Your boss is having a tough time at home or work and bursts into tears in front of you. Your boss takes credit for your ideas. Your boss blames you for their mistake. You think your boss has made a major mistake. You think your boss is about to make a major mistake. Youíve got two bosses who both expect you to work full time for them alone. You are given targets you know are unrealistic and canít be met. Youíre expected to do something illegal. Youíre expected to do something you consider unethical. Badly chaired meetings are wasting your time. You need to clear a blocked line of communication upwards. You canít get senior management to listen to your idea. You have to choose between keeping your shareholders happy or doing the right thing by your staff.

3: Colleagues A colleague in a different department is making your working life unbearable. You have no common boss; how do you handle it? A colleague blows up at you in a meeting. You have a colleague who regularly turns meetings into a battlefield. A colleague in your team is no good but your boss canít see it. A colleague puts emotional pressure on you to do something you donít have time to do. A colleague in your team is being manipulative. You are being sexually harassed by a colleague. Youíve discovered that one of your colleagues is breaking the rules.

4: Customers and suppliers You have an angry customer because you messed up. You have an angry customer because one of your team messed up. You realise you canít deliver on a promise to a customer. A major customer threatens to go elsewhere unless you make concessions you canít afford. A disgruntled customer threatens to go to your manager/the top of your organisation/the press One of your customers is wrong. You know one of your customers is lying to you. One of your important customers is demanding more of your time than you can afford to give them. A good and previously reliable supplier lets you down badly. You have a PR crisis on your hands.

5: You. You realise youíve made a bad decision and youíre asked to justify it. Someone reneges on a promise but you didnít get it in writing. Itís discovered that you havenít told the truth. You have to take a really close decision. You have vastly more work than time, everythingís important and people are depending on you. You are promoted over former colleagues. You are promoted over people older than you. You are promoted over someone who really resents you. You have to choose between work and family. Your work encroaches on your personal time. You feel you canít cope with the pressure.

Return to the Businesss Titles Home Page