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HR Explains: How to deal with a toxic co-worker, and more work-related woes

Welcome to Lifestyle Asia’s HR Explains. Every month, we sit down with a Human Resources professional to tackle some of your most burning work-life questions. For our March episode, it’s all about March madness. How do you deal with a toxic co-worker? How do you break the ice with those frosty new colleagues? And what happens if you got promoted recently, but didn’t get a raise?

911 office emergency! Have you ever been in a situation at work that you weren’t quite sure how to handle? Perhaps you’ve encountered a toxic co-worker that’s making you miserable, or perhaps you’re uncertain about bringing up a sensitive topic with your superior. For any and all of these work-life woes, we tracked down a wise and knowledgable HR professional to offer some sage career advice, the best practices for handling corporate situations in a professional manner, and where you stand within your legal rights in the workplace.

This month, our HR Hunk offers you a shoulder to cry on, as he emphasises a mantra of mental health over mania with management. As he hands over that metaphorical tissue box, we pinpoint when exactly it’s time to have honest conversations with your boss, when it’s worth communicating that you’re struggling, and when it’s best to update your LinkedIn status to “Open to Work.”

Toxicity in the workplace, be gone! Read on for March’s nuggets of workplace wisdom below.

HR Explains: Toxic co-workers, unpaid promotions, and telling your boss you may quit

hr explains toxic coworker toxic workplace
Image Credit: Afif Ramdhasuma/Unsplash

Dear HR, I’m losing my mind. I’ve got a really toxic co-worker and she’s affecting my motivation. My boss doesn’t believe it. Now I’m behind on my workload. What can I do?

Like any undesired situation, it always takes two to tango. Give your colleague the benefit of the doubt and reflect what made him behave in such a manner. Next, consider having a chat with your boss and share actual examples of unpleasant communications sent to you. However, you must tell your boss you are open to hearing areas you need to improve on. In order for you to be believable, show willingness to make changes as well. Your conversation should not be a ranting session but needs to be solutions-orientated to show your commitment to help the situation improve.

#NewbieAlert! I recently joined a new company and I’m not really vibing with my new colleagues. How can I bond with them while still keeping things profesh?

Congrats on your new job! Part of learning how to succeed in a new organisation is building professional relationships. While we love colleagues quickly showing warmth to every newbie, “vibe” is subjective, and like “hunch,” could be wrong as it’s influenced by natural biases. Remember, you are yet to prove yourself and perhaps your new colleagues may need some time to warm up. As long as your colleagues are not doing anything harmful, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Maybe you are the key to breaking the ice? Offering help or inviting them for lunch could be a good start.

hr advice for new job new colleagues
Image Credit: Canva Studio/Pexels

This is a little awkward. I still have my current job, but I’m applying at other places because I want to move soon. Is it okay to ask for a reference from my current employer? Is it okay to tell my boss I’m thinking about quitting?

This may put your employment in jeopardy, regardless of how well you are doing in your job. You may provide the company you are applying for a reference from a former boss who left your current company or from someone at your former company. Telling your current boss about your intention to quit may work against you. Instead, speak to your boss about the development plans for you, and timeline for promotion. The response you will get will help you decide if you should make a move; you may do this without telling your boss that you’re thinking about quitting.

OMG, our new KPIs are here and they are t-o-u-g-h. I don’t want people to think I’m not capable, but I’m scared I won’t reach my targets. What do I do? 

I suggest that you first research and identify the steps and milestones to achieve each month in order for each KPI to be achieved. Then from there, you can determine if they are achievable within the year or you may need more resources or manpower that can help you achieve each KPI. Only then should you discuss this with your manager. Taking time to research and presenting a solid plan will make you look capable. Remember, our competence as professionals is also determined by our capacity to seek help when needed.

hr explains workplace problems toxicity in the office
Image Credit: Yan Krukau/Pexels

I didn’t get a raise this year, but I did get a promotion. It feels like I’m getting rewarded for my good work with more work. Whilst money isn’t my only motivator, I’m wondering in what other ways I can be compensated, and how to speak to my boss about it. Please share your wisdom, HR Hunk!

I will be honest that nothing justifies a promotion without a raise. This poorly reflects how leaders value performers. For now, have an honest discussion with your boss as it seems like a punishment more than a recognition. Ask your manager if you can get more benefits such as more paid days off and/or if you can get more incentives for every KPI to motivate you to work hard albeit not getting a raise. Check their timeline as well as to when you can get a raise so you can decide if it’s time to check out career opportunities elsewhere.

HR Explains: How to deal with a toxic co-worker, and more work-related woes

Lisa Gries

Creative Content Director, Bangkok

Lisa is the Creative Content Director at Lifestyle Asia Thailand. When she’s not knees-deep in SEO analysis or editorial calendars, you’ll likely find her in downward-facing dog at the yoga studio, or immersed in conversation at a secret bar in China town. Lisa writes mostly on dining, travel, and pop-culture, and is a huge fan of soup dumplings, Riesling, and power napping — in exactly that order.

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