Category Archives: Negotiation

Job offers – PM Job Tips

I have been working with a recent graduate to get his CV up to scratch for his first job in his chosen field, we have produced a good, strong CV and also been through some careers coaching to ensure he is applying for the right roles and in the right way. As he started to apply for positions he found a great deal of interest from recruiters and direct from employers, so much so that he had a number of interviews lined up and was now being prepped ready for these when he came across an awkward situation with a recruiter.

To set the scene; he had already been through a 2 stage interview with company A and was due to go for a 2nd interview with company B when he received a call from the recruiter representing company A telling him he had an offer for the position – great news! However the candidate wanted to go for his 2nd interview with company B later the following day as he had a preference for this position/company. Being new to all this, the candidate explained his situation to company A recruiter and asked for a little time to consider his application. Bearing in mind 24 hours since his offer had been made hadn’t passed this shouldn’t be an issue. However recruiter representing company A then started to pile on pressure, stating that the offer may be withdrawn if he didn’t accept now and that he had a list of other suitable candidates which he could supply to company A.

Offer letters

The candidate called me and explained the situation asking what he should do, he feared being left in a position where he would have no offers at all should company B not make an offer and company A may withdraw offer. I pointed out that he should be in receipt of an offer letter as a minimum from company A but ideally they should be sending over a contract as there is no real offer until you have something in writing. I also pointed out that I doubted company A were threatening to revoke the offer and that it was likely the recruiter was saying this as a bullying tactic to get him to take his role – clearly his commission was at stake.

After a lengthy discussion we agreed that any company offering and withdrawing within 24 hours might not be the company you would want to work for, but giving them the benefit of the doubt we said a positive move forward would be to ask for the offer in writing for consideration (and buying some time for the other interview to take place). When the candidate asked the recruiter for an offer letter/contract the recruiter said it is not normal practice to send out such documentation without acceptance of the role. As the candidate regaled the conversation to me it became clear that recruiter A was getting rather desperate and saying anything to get the candidate to accept the role.

This kind of practice is not on and can really damage the reputation of the company the recruiter is representing, not to mention lose a good candidate for them, the good news is that the 2nd interview at company B was a success and an offer was extended on the spot to the candidate who has accepted and starts next week.

It is important to stay in control in these situations, do not be bullied into taking a role and always ask for an offer letter/contract as you may find yourself with no firm offers in place – you are entitled to take some time to consider an offer and it isn’t unreasonable to take a couple of days, keep your cards close to your chest about other opportunities when being pressured as this can lead to additional pushing from recruiters. Gut instinct should play a good part in decision making, don’t let fear of losing an opportunity make your decisions for you. If you are commanding a good level of interest elsewhere then you won’t be on the shelf long before more offers come your way.

What Are Your Options If You’re Being Mistreated By An Employer?

Statistics show that almost half of all working people have been affected by bullying or harassment in the workplace, either by being the victim or by witnessing it happening to someone else. This statistic is far too high. If a child is being bullied at school then it’s taken very seriously by the parents and teachers involved and something is done about it. However, in the workplace people may be scared to come forward and report bullying behaviour for fear of the repercussions.

What constitutes bullying in the workplace?

  • Verbal abuse including shouting and swearing at a colleague or employee.
  • An individual being singled out for criticism or blame which is unjustified.
  • Playing practical jokes and pranks on an individual repeatedly.
  • Purposefully ignoring a particular employee’s contributions regularly.
  • Disrespectful language or actions aimed at embarrassing or humiliating an individual.

What constitutes harassment in the workplace?

  • Negative comments or actions based on an individual’s gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or religion is classed as harassment rather than just bullying. Harassment in the workplace on any of the grounds above is governed by law in most countries so the perpetrators can be prosecuted.

What are the effects of bullying and harassment in the workplace?

  • Effects on the individual: Stress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, absenteeism, low productivity in the workplace, insomnia, high blood pressure, and digestive problems.
  • Effects on the employer: A high staff turnover and loss of revenue due to constantly having to train new staff; low morale amongst staff and therefore lack of motivation and low productivity; a difficulty in recruiting quality staff members as word spreads through the industry about the hostile working environment at the company.

As you can see, absolutely nothing good comes from bullying and harassment in the workplace. So if it’s happening to you or someone you know it’s imperative that you take action. There are several ways to tackle the problem:

  • Bullying in the workplaceTry not to react to the bullying. If you react in the heat of the moment your emotions will cloud your judgement and may lead you to say or do something which you later regret.
  • Take a step back and try to look at the situation objectively. Have you misinterpreted your colleague’s actions? Speak to friends or family to see if they feel like the actions of your colleague can be construed as bullying.
  • Keep a diary of any incidents that you deem to be bullying. If you have them down on paper you’ll be able to identify any patterns, and have a better body of evidence to present in the event of a grievance or tribunal.
  • Escalate the problem where possible. If it’s a colleague harassing you then inform your line manager and let them deal with it in the correct manner. If it’s your manager bullying you then speak to their manager or a union representative.
  • If none of the above works to resolve the situation and you end up feeling forced to resign due to ill health brought on by the stress of the situation, it’s always advisable to seek advice from an employment solicitor.

An example:

A friend of mine was recently a victim of bullying and harassment in the workplace. She has a disability, and one of her colleagues took it upon themselves to highlight this and use it to discriminate against her and humiliate her on several occasions. Her self-esteem and confidence were really knocked by this and she didn’t feel she got the relevant support from her line manager. Eventually the situation forced her to resign due to stress and anxiety. Upon doing so she contacted a local employment solicitor in Loughborough, her home town, and sought advice on pursuing a claim against her employer. In the end her employer was made to pay compensation to her, which gave her back her confidence and enabled her to find a new job which she’s very happy in.

The moral of the story is: If you feel you’re being mistreated it’s down to you to do something about it! Don’t stand back and let the bullies win, keep a log of all of the incidents, don’t rise to the bullies, and seek advice from an employment solicitor. Remember there are acts and laws in place to protect us in our place of work, so use them to your advantage and stand up to the bullies!

Dealing With Conflicts within the Workplace

It would be great to think that you would always have a harmonious relationship with your work colleagues, but the reality is that relationships can sometimes run into trouble. This probably shouldn’t come as a great surprise, given the circumstances involved.

Unless you happen to be in a very lucky situation, it’s probable that you didn’t actually get to choose your work colleagues. It’s rather more likely that you were forced together and that there was an expectation that you would be productive.

New members of staff

When interviewers are looking at hiring new members of staff, they will frequently consider the work experience of an individual and will be looking to assess their abilities. It’s often more difficult, however, to identify whether someone will really fit in.

In part, that’s because each business will have its own ethos and working environment. It’s not correct to assume that it will be easy for everyone to adapt to the unique demands that are associated with a situation.

But conflicts don’t only occur when someone new joins the organization. In fact, it’s often the case that a level of stress, created by the pressures of working life, can cause a conflict to emerge. When we are under pressure, we may act in haste. We may so, or do, things that we later come to regret.

walking out

Remaining calm

Although it’s clear that the priority should be to keep calm and to avoid encountering such issues, it’s also true to say that it’s incredibly hard to avoid problems. What is critical is that you have a response that you can rely on.

In general terms, your aim should be to remain professional at all times. Although the issue that you have with another individual may make life uncomfortable and you may feel that the other person is acting unreasonably, it’s vitally important that you should avoid responding in a similar manner. That’s only likely to make things worse and it probably won’t be very positive to your career prospects.

Instead, you need to think about how you can handle the situation. It may be that a frank discussion with the other individual is all that’s required, but that may not be appropriate. You’ll need to judge whether that’s likely to make things better, or whether it may simply inflame the situation. You very clearly don’t want to make things worse.

A more realistic approach may involve reporting the situation to a senior manager. In this case, you need to be careful that you provide all of the facts and that you take a fully objective approach. It can be tempting to paint a picture of the behaviour of the other person that is intended to show them in a bad light. It’s usually best to avoid such a temptation.

Instead, explain the problems that you are having and how they are having an impact on the smooth operation of the business. This should ensure that your manager views the situation with the sort of importance that it clearly deserves.

About the author

Keith Barrett writes about workplace mediation and dealing with difficult situations. He believes that most issues can be resolved in a manner that is appropriate for all concerned.

What could possibly go wrong? Irrational fears

We’ve all had a nightmare at work at some point and project management in its own right is probably home to more war stories than most professions – but how does this affect our lives and perceptions moving forward? For most of us, we learn from our experiences and carry a great deal of battle scars which tend to make us a little more wary if not more prepared when venturing into a new challenge, however sometimes we can let our thoughts and actions go into overdrive and start having irrational fears.

I will share with you an irrational fear I used to have when I worked for a large blue chip business. On a Monday morning – I was tasked with gathering the weekly financial data for output of all the European manufacturing sites. Once I had all the data I had to produce a report of all the figures for a meeting with the heads of sites, company president and other senior managers’. So as you can imagine – this was a task which could not be put to the back of the “to do” list, in all fairness I found the task a bit of a bore but also knew the importance of having the report ready an hour before the video conferencing. I would contact all of the logistics managers across the manufacturing sites every Monday with a friendly email reminder, followed by a call for those who still hadn’t sent over their reports. Now I don’t want to single out a particular site but there was one which was notoriously late with their reports, in fact they were so bad that I would have called at least 3 times after the initial email which never generated a response. I would be patched through to various departments on each call and basically told that the relevant staff had gone for lunch. Sometimes this was mid morning (even with the time difference), so it became a bit of a joke that this site were basically always eating. This is where my irrational fear came about – as I got it in the neck for my report being late and it was always this site which made me late (despite many meetings /conversations and discussions trying to clarify what the issue was at their end) that I began to believe that they were in fact all sat eating ALL DAY on a Monday.

From then on, I have always been very keen to plan project meetings well ahead of deadlines with the manufacturing site in question – even making up deadlines to be well ahead of the real deadlines in a bid to try and get my projects completed on time; it worked and I did just hit my deadlines on projects but the financial reporting never got in on time from them.

I would love to hear of your irrational fears – whether at work or home, sometimes they can prove to be productive.