Common problems in the workplace and how to solve them

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Have you ever felt that your working environment needs a bit of improvement? Can you decide if the issues are normal? Should you try to solve them or is better to look for another job? Below are a few hints that may answer such questions. Let’s have a look at some common problems that people face at the workplace.

You are not getting credit for the work that you do

A frequent problem that can trigger a feeling of demotivation is lack of recognition for work that you have performed. This may be due to falsely perceived team psychology (We are all one in our team!), due to misalignment between personal and team goals or just because nobody noticed what you did. 

Not getting credit for what you have achieved can lead to a feeling of negativity and meaninglessness of your work. After all, what is the point of delivering something useful if at the end you are nowhere to be seen? 

If you are in such a situation, then it is probably a good time for a dose of self-promotion that will make your achievements more visible and will help people recognize your strengths. 

Let’s say you did an optimization that will save costs for your company. Here is what you can do to create awareness of your achievement:

  • Talk about it and show your colleagues how it was done in case they want to apply it elsewhere
  • Show people how much costs you saved and ask them if they have ideas for further optimizations
  • Ask your managers if you can help them save even more money by using your skills. 
  • Give a presentation to inspire other departments to follow your example

Just start promoting yourself and your accomplishments, do it on a regular basis and you will soon feel the difference.

Frequent miscommunication and lack of trust

Most of the problems in project management are communication problems. This is why a well-functioning team is fast in detecting and efficiently solving them. 

If you feel frequently that your point is not made, you are not being listened to, you keep repeating the same discussions, your suggestions are never implemented or feel micromanaged and questioned all the time about small things, the chances are that this falls outside the scope of “regular” miscommunication category and is a sign of deeper problems. 

To counter such lack of trust problems, having a set of well-defined processes as well as regular feedback meetings can help solve these issues. Talk to people openly about the problems, ask for honest feedback and be honest yourself. In most cases, this should resolve or decrease the issues significantly.

Solid hierarchies and wide distance within organizational layers

No one wants to be stuck in the same place with no potential for personal and professional growth. This is why it is always helpful to know that the doors and the “floors” are not inaccessible. 

If you feel a distance between the hierarchies at the workplace, for example, never having met the boss of your boss, chances are that you will feel isolated and with no real growth potential. 

Too much formality and non-gained expected respect from colleagues that are higher in the organizational layer is often a sign of strong hierarchies within the organization. This may limit the potential for growth and also may be demotivating for employers.

In case you are employee in such organization, you may try to shorten the distances by approaching people across hierarchy levels. Building relationships and exchanging information between hierarchies is beneficial for both the company and the employees. 

If you are among the decision makers who have the power to bring a change and improve the situation, then better do it now, before it is too late.

Toxic atmosphere between colleagues

Some people just don’t get along with each other. And that is a fact. Keep in mind that within any group of people the number of individual relationships between each other is  N x (N-1) / 2, so for a typical team of 8 people there are 28 interpersonal relationships. 

What are the chances that everyone gets along perfectly with everyone else? Quite low. The responsibility of a group is to make sure that irregardless of this fact, you can still maintain a healthy professional relationship. 

There are two factors in maintaining a healthy non-toxic working relationship. The first is the one-to-one factor and what you do to make sure that you can solve any issues with your colleagues. The second is what the team does to make sure that things don’t get out of hand.

Tolerance, acceptance of different personalities, setting of personal boundaries and respect for other people are few of the things that help. Organizational restructuring, team trainings and workshops and of course team-building events can help let some of the steam go and support good working atmosphere.

Long working hours

It can happen that due to unexpected and unpredictable events you might have to work long hours, as an exception to a generally well-respected work schedule. That’s fine if it happens rarely.

On the other hand, if working long hours is something natural in a team, and people who fail to do so are pointed with fingers, this is a clear sign of bigger problems. Managing deadlines, estimating workloads and distributing work is the responsibility of good management, and if they are not properly estimated it can lead to overworked, unmotivated, stressed, unproductive team members. 

Most of the recent research relating work-hours with productivity shows that fewer work hours per week show an increased employee productivity and happiness, which means higher outcome from a team. 

Always keep in mind that a working day is limited, and that work never finishes. So, try to work in a smart, productive and efficient way rather than overworking.   

You may check the following article for more tips on the topic:
https://www.itknowledgebank.com/why-overtime-work-is-not-good-for-you/

Things take too long

A long-awaited promotion, a request of a document from another department, a signature that you have been waiting to order new hardware – these are all examples of things that can often take much longer than expected. 

If this is the norm and happens too often, it shows that there are some bottlenecks in the organizational structure, causing unnecessary delays. These are signs of generally over complicated structure. 

Especially when it comes to employee satisfaction, requests should be processed immediately, since having unhappy team members is the fastest way to team failure. Therefore, identify bottlenecks quickly, provide solutions and do not forget to remove impediments as soon as they appear.

What is the conclusion?

We presented some common workplace problems, which to our experience can happen within any team and lead to team member dissatisfaction and demotivation. Nevertheless, team self-improvement, feedback and constant reflection on processes can point to the right direction when it comes to overcoming them. 

The fact alone that these issues are more patterns rather than isolated events means that as professionals we have to constantly reflect on the workplace conditions and suggest solutions.

If you recognized some of these problems within your working environment, then take action to resolve them as soon as possible. This is the right way to go. 

If of course the problems like that are too many and your efforts for resolving them are not giving a result due to lack of support from management and colleagues or other factors beyond your power, then it may be a good time for a career change and finding a better working environment.

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Manos Agelidis
Manos Angelidis holds a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering, and a Masters degree in Biomedical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens. He spent 3 years as a Biomedical Engineering researcher in Athens on the topic of computational biomechanics and fluid dynamics. For the last 3 years he has been working at fortiss GmbH, a research institute for software and AI, also doing PhD research at the department of Informatics of the Technical University of Munich on the topic of AI and Robotics. He has been a software architect, lead senior software engineer and scrum Master in the distributed team developing the Neurorobitcs Platform within the Human Brain Project. He has expertise in simulated physics and Neuromorphic Computing, and specializes in C++, Javascript, Python, and Agile Methodologies.