/How to: Deal with work problems professionally

How to: Deal with work problems professionally

OK, so life at work doesn’t always go to plan…

Whether it’s that you can’t seem to get along with your colleagues, your workload is becoming too much, or your heart simply isn’t in it, there are a number of issues that can affect your happiness at work. But that doesn’t mean they’re all impossible to overcome.

To help you get over some of the biggest issues, here are five common work problems, and our advice on how to deal with them professionally:


You’re getting no recognition at work                                                                                                                   

The problem: You’re feeling undervalued.

The solution: Make your achievements known, and don’t be afraid to brag (humbly).


OK, so you’re working super hard. But is anyone actually noticing?

If you feel like your efforts are going unseen, it can be all too easy to think what you’re doing has no value. The knock-on effect? A lack of motivation, productivity, and ultimately, general happiness at work.

But although you want your manager to realise your achievements on their own, you may be better off taking it into your own hands. After all, you’re the only one who really knows the true extent of the work you’re doing – so it’s up to you to keep others up-to-date.

Whether it’s during one-to-ones with your boss, meetings, or even via email updates, don’t be afraid to highlight the efforts you’re making, and how they’re positively impacting the business.

Just don’t expect to be praised for every single thing you do – especially minor duties that are part of your day-to-day. There’s a fine line between having pride in your work and just outrightly fishing for compliments.

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You’ve done something wrong                                                                                                                   

The problem: You made a mistake.

The solution: Take accountability, and learn from it.


Let’s face it, nobody’s perfect – and mistakes happen to best of us.

Luckily, it’s how you deal with them that really matters.

Although it might feel daunting to face up to an error you made (especially if it was particularly damaging), ignoring it is the worst thing you can do.

Instead, go directly to your manager and tell them exactly what happened, making it clear you understand the importance of the mistake. Then, explain how you plan to reduce damage, and the impact it has on your team, your customers, and the business as a whole.

Crucially, make it clear that you’ve actually learnt from the mistake, and explain how you’ll ensure it doesn’t happen again.

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You keep getting distracted                                                                                                                   

The problem: You can’t stay focused.

The solution: Identify your triggers, and minimise them. 


When it comes to workplace distractions, everyone has a weakness.

Whether it’s that you’re battling a social media addiction, your group chat requires constant attention, you’re easily distracted by those around you, or a combination of all three – channelling the willpower to zone out of everything except work can be tough.

But although you can’t just turn off the internet (or your colleagues), you can limit the time you spend on non-work based tasks or interactions.

For example, waiting until you finish a task before checking your phone, or putting your headphones in for two hours of focused-work-time until you’re able to join in on office small talk could be a great way to get things done faster.

If a particularly noisy workplace is making it impossible to concentrate, consider changing your work environment. Working from home, in a quiet meeting room, or even from a coffee shop (if your manager allows it) are all potentially viable solutions.

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You don’t get along with a colleague                                                                                                                   

The problem: You’re struggling to work with other team members.

The solution: Always be the bigger person.


Unfortunately, you can’t get along with everyone.

With some difficult colleagues, even maintaining a basic level of work-based conversation can feel like a constant battle. No matter how hard you try to keep the peace.

It could be that you’re disagreeing on a particular project, they seem to go out of their way to cause problems, or you simply just don’t see eye to eye. On anything.

Whatever it is, being polite and direct is the best first step. Informally discussing your concerns can often be the best way to resolve minor issues, especially if your colleague is unaware that their behaviour is affecting others. If this doesn’t work, and it’s affecting your ability to work effectively, consider mentioning it to your manager.

But remember: you don’t actually have to like each other. You just have to work together.

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You’re working too hard                                                                                                                   

The problem: You’re being overworked.

The solution: Learn to say no, and make your abilities clear.


So your workload seems to be increasing at an unstoppable rate, and you’re feeling a little overwhelmed.

In fact, you can’t remember the last time you didn’t stay late in an attempt to get everything done.

Whether it’s that you’ve inadvertently taken on someone else’s job as well as your own, your client base has expanded in size, or you’ve simply just been given too many new responsibilities – taking on more work than you can handle isn’t great for your wellbeing (not to mention your productivity).

Although it might seem like working extra hard will boost your chances of a promotion, it could mean the opposite if that burnt out feeling is affecting your quality of work.

So arrange a meeting with your manager to discuss your unmanageable workload, explaining the reasons you’re struggling, and exactly what you’re capable of.

Suggesting alternatives that work better for you and your team (e.g. passing some responsibilities on to others, introducing flexible working hours) will be particularly helpful – and ensure you start focussing on the tasks that are most important.

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