In all likelihood, your FWT will be a mostly positive experience. If conflict should arise, the important thing to remember is to deal with it early. Approach conflict in a direct, non-accusatory way. Regardless of the cause, problems need to be resolved as soon as possible, ideally with a solution agreeable to all involved. If you need help with how to handle a problem, call and speak with an FWT staff member. Remember, learning how to deal with work-related problems is an important part of the FWT process.
Conflict Management Key Points
- Recognize that there are many points of view. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.
- Address problems early.
- Listen without being defensive or judgmental.
- Concentrate on finding a resolution rather than finding fault.
- Make sure proposed and final solutions are understood and agreed upon.
- Follow through on agreed to terms.
Examples of Potential Problems and Suggested Solutions
- Not challenged at work. Understandably, you want to be challenged during FWT. Keep in mind that everyone completes some routine work as part of his or her job. This type of work can be a good way to learn how an organization operates. If you find yourself completing an excess of routine work, demonstrate your ability to handle more. Show that you are organized, responsible, and dependable. Talk to your supervisor and co-workers about projects you’d like to get involved in or learn more about. Explain that you are willing to continue completing routine work, but would like to participate in or observe more challenging work as well.
- Problems with co-workers. If you are having trouble with a particular co-worker, try talking with him/her to find out what the problem is. It could be something unrelated to you or something you can solve together. If this approach fails, talk with your supervisor diplomatically about a solution.
- Office politics. It’s easy to get caught up in the internal politics of an organization. Avoid getting involved in disagreements between individuals or departments when possible. Most likely, there is a history behind the problem that goes beyond your time with the organization. If you are already involved in a political situation, avoid further involvement if possible (conversations, action, etc.) as this may only escalate the situation.
- Poor communication. Misunderstandings due to poor communication can escalate into huge problems. If you feel as though a colleague is not effectively communicating with you about a project, make the extra effort to check in with him/her about his/her expectations. Similarly, if you are experiencing your own poor communication getting in the way of doing your job well, talk with your supervisor and/or call the FWT & CDO for advice. Professional and proactive communication is probably the simplest and most effective way to solve and prevent problems at work—and it takes practice, and often mentorship.
- Overwhelm. If you are feeling overwhelmed by a problem at work try these steps: brainstorm with colleagues to get their thoughts and insights; after hours call friends or family members who you think might have experience with such a problem; take a break from the situation—go for a walk on your lunch break or work on another assignment for a bit and see if stepping back changes you perspective. If you are unable to resolve the situation on your own, speak to your supervisor or contact the FWT & CDO for advice.
Leaving a Job Before the End of FWT
Occasionally, a student may need to leave the job before the end of FWT. If you are considering leaving your job you should:
- Contact the FWT & CDO immediately to discuss your situation.
- Make an appointment to speak with your supervisor to:
- Explain your concerns/situation.
- If this decision is based on issues related to the position or work environment (vs. personal), outline your concerns and address them in a non-accusatory way.
- Let your supervisor know that you are considering leaving.
- Give him/her an opportunity to respond and to problem solve with you. Supervisors can often remedy a situation if they know what the concern is
- Engage in problem solving strategies with your supervisor to see if there is a way you can maintain your commitment.
- Keep in mind that your supervisor may be dealing with managerial or organizational issues and demands that you are unaware of and that might be influencing her/his choices. If s/he is able to share those, it may give you a new perspective on what you perceived originally as a problem.
- If you do decide to leave the position, ask what you can do to make the transition easier. Ideally, complete any projects you have begun, and update your supervisor on anything you have been working on.
- Agree on a final date and what needs to be done by that time.
- Remind your supervisor that you will need to collect any of your completed timesheet and that the FWT & CDO will still send a performance evaluation to be filled out.
- After you leave, send a follow-up letter thanking your supervisor for the opportunity provided, praise what went well, and express your regrets that things did not work out as planned.