I’ve got a problem: How do I raise an issue at work?

Do you have an issue at work?: An Employees Guide

It’s always difficult to raise an issue at work but it’s important to remember that it’s better to talk about it sooner rather than later.  Difficult conversations are always hard to have but it’s best to try and discuss it informally first with your line manager.

If you’ve got an issue at work your first goal should be to bring up your concerns in an appropriate manner. If you’re in the middle of a team meeting and you don’t agree with a new policy change, blurting out your problems with it during the meeting itself is a bad idea. You also don’t want to complain about something like a team members behavior during a time of crisis in the office.  Schedule some time with your line manager for a one to one meeting in private and make sure it’s still a good time to talk before opening the discussion. This will set the stage for a much more productive conversation between you and your line manager.

If you have concerns about something you’ll need to be specific about it.  Don’t go to your line manager with a general complaint like “the atmosphere in the office is rubbish”.  Such a statement could discredit your complaint. You’ll need to give specific instances or examples that need to be addressed.  The more specific you can be about the issue(s) / problem(s) the better.  You’ll need to be objective about your concerns.  If you’re angry about the way management have handled a situation, lose the anger.  Focus on the facts, and come to your line manager with a solid reasoning for why your issue(s) / problem(s) need to be addressed.

If you’ve identified an issue or a problem, always come with solutions in mind.  If you do this it will show that you’ve thought the problem through and you’re looking at the future rather than the past or present. Coming with solutions will also increase the likelihood that your line manager will act on your concerns.

Don’t take up the entire meeting talking about the issue(s).  Try to take some time to point out the positives.

Never demand that a specific action is to be taken, or worse, introduce an ultimatum. Saying that you’ll leave or take negative actions if your demands aren’t met is a way of holding your line manager hostage which will reflect badly on you. Instead, frame your concerns as a request rather than a demand, and allow your line manager to make the final decision with respect.  Your line manager may need time to investigate the issue informally and come back to you.  Often questions can’t be answered immediately.

If you’ve tried to raise the problem informally and you feel that the issue hasn’t been dealt with in the appropriate manner don’t be afraid to get support. Maybe you need to speak to your HR department or another manager within the organisation.  It’s always best to refer to your staff handbook for further guidance.

If you get to a stage whereby you need to raise a formal complaint you will normally need to confirm the details in writing.  You would then be invited to a formal grievance meeting.  During this meeting, your employer would discuss your complaint in more detail and possibly need to speak to other staff members (as potential witnesses) if a specific incident has occurred and other staff members were present.  You would have a statutory right to representation at a formal grievance meeting.

Even though it may be a really difficult situation always remember to focus on solutions rather than the problem itself. Share your feedback honestly and calmly with your line manager.  Remember it’s usually better to try to resolve issues that you have with your employer at work and at the earliest stage possible.

If you’ve got an issue and you don’t know how to deal with it we would always encourage you to speak with your line manager first, however Conflict Management can often been an effect route to resulution.