How to Approach Your Supervisor With Problems at Work

Don't be afraid to meet with your boss.
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There comes a time in every working woman's life when problems at work start to build up, necessitating a visit to the supervisor's office. Problems at work can run the gamut from conflicts with co-workers or customers to issues with work assignments and personal problems that spill over into your professional life. Whatever the case, you are at a breaking point and need to discuss your work problems with the boss. Here's how to tactfully approach your supervisor.

    Step 1

    Document your specific work problems to determine how they affect your productivity. Before you start venting to your boss, be sure these conflicts or issues are actually diminishing your effectiveness. These are the areas that your manager will be most interested in. Additionally, by preparing a list of issues, you are taking a proactive stance that your supervisor will appreciate.

    Document your work problems for a few weeks.

    Step 2

    Pay a visit to your organization’s human resource department to ensure confidentiality. HR can provide valuable feedback about your issues and help you identify those that can be managed. Instead of fearing the reaction of your supervisor, you can receive the guidance of a seasoned, human relations professional who can support you through this process. In most cases, the HR team wants you to be happy and productive at work, so it’s in your best interests to find ways to address and work through these problems sooner rather than later.

    Meeting with the HR manager helps resolve problems.

    Step 3

    Take the initiative and schedule a meeting with your immediate supervisor. It’s up to you to take steps to correct problems at work. You can often ask the human resources manager to be present to help facilitate this meeting as well, if you are worried about losing your job.

    Step 4

    Have a plan of action to present to your manager to make things better. Jot down a few potential solutions to the problems you are facing. Susan Lankton-Rivas of Insight Performance Inc. states that, "By understanding the issue and taking positive action, you can help solve the problem and make your office a place where you really want to be." Try to focus on one thing at a time, and ask your manager for help in making things better so that you can be a more productive employee. This lets your supervisor know that you truly care about your job and the goals of the company, which helps set the stage for a better work experience and relationship with your manager.


    • If a work problem involves a co-worker, involve your HR manager in resolving this issue.


    • Get your manager to work out problems with rude or harassing customers immediately.


    • Leave your personal life problems out of your career to avoid counter-productive behaviors.


    • Never confront a co-worker about problems at work, instead get the aid of your immediate supervisor.


    • Only discuss work problems with your manager or HR, do not vent to your colleagues or clients.

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