Human Resources

Raising concerns

This section can help you complete Section A 'Review of the previous year'. In particular it may inform your answer to the question about other issues that have impacted on your work. 

It can be difficult to raise concerns assertively. It is important to think through what you want to say and make sure you are specific. Specific statements are focused on what needs to change and help start a discussion about how to improve a situation. For example, consider the difference between these two statements:

1. “things haven’t gone well because it’s impossible to do anything properly when you are constantly overloaded”.

2. “I haven’t met that objective because I’ve been asked to do X, Y and Z. It has not been possible to do all of these things so Y and Z took priority.”

Concerns about your workload

These might include the amount of work you have to do or the nature of it. It can very stressful when the demands being asked of you are difficult to meet. Our own ability to deal with various demands varies depending on what else is going in our lives. Many people are reticent about saying that their workload is problematic in case it looks as though they cannot cope. However a workload may be intolerable for anyone and be no reflection on you. Or you may be having a difficult time outside of work, and demands that you previously balanced with ease have become difficult to manage. Whatever the reason, nothing can be done about the situation unless you make others aware of it. Consider whether there are any potential solutions you could discuss with your reviewer. These could include additional support with a task, rotation of a responsibility, handing over an area to someone else or clarifying priorities.

Examples

  • I am spending considerable time on X which means that Y has suffered. I think Y should be my priority.
  • I have been working longer and longer hours to get everything done. I’m finding that increasingly difficult to sustain.

Concerns about relationships with colleagues

Concerns about other people can be some of the most difficult to raise. We don’t want to be seen a trouble-maker, or risk making a situation worse. As with workload, challenging relationships can be a source of stress and can escalate so that we feel tense at work and try to avoid the person concerned. This can impact on the work we do and our own wellbeing. Often people think that a matter is too trivial to be discussed. However trivial matters are easier to resolve and prevent problems from becoming more serious. The important thing is to be matter-of-fact and not make personal comments. Be specific and explain the impact of a problem.

Examples

  • Recently I have felt uncomfortable asking for support. There is much eye-rolling and tutting when I walk into the office. I’m not getting the support I need and Z won’t be done on time. Can you help with this?
  • I have been unable to progress with Y because A refuses to share any information with me. How can I tackle this?

Concerns about your physical environment

These might include the space that you have to work in, adequate resources or storage, the amount of daylight, or access to food and drink. It may not be possible to make immediate or big changes to the working environment but you will be informing future decisions as well as looking for improvements now.

Examples

  • The way the shelves are positioned blocks the sunlight. I feel low if I don’t get enough light, especially during the winter. Is it possible to move them?
  • Recently, more and more boxes have been stored on the floor of our office. It feels chaotic and doesn’t give a good impression to people walking in. Can we emphasise the need to the team to keep the space clear.

Concerns about the working culture

Working culture refers to the norms of your working environment. It includes the kind of behaviour, working practices and routines that people consider to be OK. Are lunch-breaks respected or do people eat at their desks and expect others to do the same? Do people treat each other with respect and courtesy? It is accepted that certain people behave unprofessionally to get their way? Are working practices fair or are some people allowed to ‘bend the rules’?

Examples

  • I feel pressure to work through lunch breaks. I would rather be judged on the work I do rather than how long it takes me to do it. What’s your view on this?
  • It seems to be acceptable to tell rude jokes in the office. This makes me feel uncomfortable.

Concerns about the way things are done

These might include concerns about systems and processes; the way that decisions are made or staff consulted with, or simply the priorities of the department/service.

Examples

  • Students cannot access the office at lunchtime. This is not in line with the level of service we should be offering.
  • The same data is being entered on three different systems. This duplication eats up a lot of time.