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VOL. 39 | NO. 6 | Friday, February 6, 2015

Tough choice: Being right or being employed?

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Have you ever experienced a problem at your job where you were truly in the right? A co-worker or boss did something to you that was either against the law or just ethically wrong. Maybe your boss has a temper, or perhaps you’re being discriminated against in some way.

First, these are terrible situations. If you’re working in a negative environment, I empathize with you and I in no way endorse bad behavior.

If you are facing problems, you may have considered complaining. One route to do this is by going to your human resources representative. Somehow, when you’re hired, you’re often given the message that HR is on your side. They will protect you and mediate situations that negatively impact you.

But, have you ever known someone personally who works in the field of HR? Have you ever asked them their perspective? Their job, like yours, is to protect the interests of the company. Part of that job is to help you, but part of it is also to help their employer, the company.

Often, when you complain, you become viewed as the problem. It can be perceived that you’re the one creating extra work. You’re the one putting the company at risk.

Unfortunately, this can happen even when you’re in the right.

When speaking of his marriage, a friend once said to me: “I’ve decided I can either be right or I can be married.” In other words, he has decided to carefully select his battles. The same thing can hold true at work.

If you’ve decided to escalate a situation, think hard about your reason for complaining. What do you hope to accomplish? Are your expectations realistic?

This can be the case when you’re leaving a company. An exit interview is a perfect opportunity to air your grievances.

But, why? What do you stand to gain by alienating your boss?

If you’re like many people, you will eventually need to reach back out to your previous employer for a recommendation. This will not be possible if you’ve left a scathing review on your last day.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not encouraging you to stay in an unhealthy situation. And, when illegal, unethical things are happening, whistleblowers can be both necessary and important.

Weigh your situation. If you’re just looking for someone to vent your frustrations to, consider picking up the phone to call a sympathetic friend. Another option is to write a journal.

If your boss truly doesn’t value you, it may be time to start looking for someone who will. It’s much easier to change jobs than to change your boss’s behavior.

When you seek out a new job, pay close attention during your interviews. Observe whether the hiring manager treats their employees with respect. Read company reviews online. Talk to friends. Do your homework.

At the end of the day, you’re not just looking for a particular role, you’re looking for a healthier and happier environment.

Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, CopelandCoaching.com, and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” She also hosts the Copeland Coaching Podcast on iTunes. You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).

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