How to Deal With Workplace Dilemmas

August 3, 2020

The day to day operations of an agency can be full of complications of varying degrees. Often it is interpersonal relationships or difficult workplace situations. Both can cause internal and external conflict. It can seem at times that there is no right answer, and even finding the right next step can seem like a losing battle. When employees encounter these difficulties, there is a tendency to ignore them and move on. While avoiding problems feels like the more comfortable option in the moment, it can build up and cause more significant issues in the future. Instead, knowing how to evaluate the situation and work through it will be a valuable skill that will come in handy in the future. 

When faced with difficult situations at work, it can be stressful and hard to decide what to do next. Here are tips for tackling those dilemmas:

Get the Facts – It is human nature to make assumptions and jump to conclusions. It is the path of least resistance. The brain wants a solution now, and creating one based on limited information is easier than the alternative. Operating under assumptions can cause us to do things and create more problems down the road. Doing this means we solve the case without relevant details.   

For instance, you are an account manager at an agency. The producer you work with comes to you and tells you he plans to leave and go work for a competing agency and plans to take his book with him. You may feel shocked and overwhelmed by this information.

It is easy to see why this message is concerning, and you instantly want to try to figure out what to do with this new information.  In this situation, it’s crucial to slow things down and make sure you have a full understanding.

  1. Ask the producer if he has discussed his decision to leave with the agency? Is he working through the necessary process to make the transition smooth for him and those clients that wish to stay with him? If he hasn’t, encourage him to do so. If he refuses, then it may mean you need to take additional action.
  2. While you are questioning what your obligation is in this situation, consult the agency employee handbook and see if there are any answers. If the handbook does not provide answers, consider talking with the HR department. An HR professional should be a safe place for you to express your concerns confidently without fear of consequences. They should also be able to provide clarity regarding your responsibility is in the situation and provide appropriate guidance for the next step. 

Assuming the agent is planning just to sneak out and has not done his due diligence is dangerous and can be damaging to the relationship. And if he hasn’t done what he should, acting without a clear understanding of what you’re required to do can make the situation even more stressful.

Take a step back from the situation– When facing an uncomfortable situation, like the one above, it can hard to be objective. When it feels personal, it is critical to hit the pause button on the thoughts, solutions, and conclusions running through your head and take a step back and question why you are wrestling with the situation. What is it that is causing the conflict? 

  1. If the agent has not told ownership and is not obligated to do so, are you questioning his ethics?
  2. Are you concerned about the security of your job if he leaves and takes the book with him?
  3. Are you now feeling the weight of responsibility for someone else’s decision?

There could be several specifics about the position you find yourself in that feel uncomfortable and bothersome. Slowing down and stepping back can help you better identify where you are struggling.

Discuss with Someone Outside the Situation – Even after obtaining additional information and stepping back from the situation, it can still feel like you’re too close to the problem. Finding someone you can trust and talk to that is completely detached from the situation can prove beneficial. This person could be a spouse or significant other, a parent, friend, or a colleague in the industry that does not work for the same agency.

Ideally, this person knows you and your personality and will provide an outsider’s perspective and help you find the clarity you need. Consulting with someone like this can help you to understand better where your struggles stem from and provide options you can use to deal with the problem.

Dilemmas are a natural part of our personal and professional existence. Using these tips can help you gain the perspective and clarity you need to find your way to a solution.   

For more on this topic, check out the full episode of The Independent Agent below!