How to Handle Tough Situations at Work

Prentice Hall
Ros Jay  
Total pages
November 2002

Product detail

Title no longer available


Whatever the tough situation you face at work, this book gives sound and rationale advice on what to do - and how - to help you tackle those difficult management dilemmas. It's like having someone with 20 years experience sitting by your side.

Table of Contents

Tough Situations


1: Your team

  1. The team is worried about threatened redundancies.
  2. You've been told you have to make redundancies in your department. Who should it be, and how should you do it?
  3. One of your top people is threatening to leave, and you can't afford to lose them.
  4. You've got nowhere to promote a star performer, but you don't want to lose them.
  5. You need to promote one person but you have several good candidates in your team.
  6. You have several candidates for promotion within your team but you want to give the job to an outsider.
  7. One of your team is very disgruntled at being passed over for promotion.
  8. Your team is trying really hard but there's no money available for pay rises this year.
  9. You inherit a team of people who are hostile to you.
  10. Your team complain that they don't like your management style.
  11. The team is very hostile to senior management.
  12. Your team has to work with outsiders.
  13. You have to guide the team through major change.
  14. The team is badly overstretched.
  15. Your team is split over a controversial policy issue.
  16. There's a status battle within your team.
  17. There is a personality clash within your team.
  18. You have to handle an aggressive team meeting.
  19. Rumours and gossip are damaging morale and performance.
  20. You have to keep the team happy through an office move.
  21. There's a crisis and you have to manage the team through it.
  22. You have to deal with a system failure (computer crash, switchboard failure etc).
  23. The team is demoralised after a failure.
  24. The team is demoralised because business is bad generally.
  25. You have to give bad news to the team.
  26. You have to break bad news to an individual team member.
  27. One of your team is suffering badly from work related stress.
  28. One of your team is going through a personal crisis.
  29. Someone in the team is diagnosed with HIV.
  30. Someone in the team is seriously ill or dies.
  31. A top performer suddenly goes off form.
  32. A team member's absenteeism is getting worse.
  33. One of your team members is underperforming mildly. You don't want to discipline them, but you need them to improve.
  34. One of your team resigns impulsively.
  35. A weak member of the team is convinced they are really good at the job.
  36. A team member does the job fine, but they don't get on with the rest of the department.
  37. Someone is good but in the wrong job.
  38. A member of staff seems impossible to motivate.
  39. Someone on the team has a persistently negative attitude.
  40. You decide your really don't like one of your team.
  41. You realise you've hired a complete nutter.
  42. You're asked to give a reference for someone you believe is a complete nutter.
  43. One of your team is in disgrace.
  44. Someone on your team is having an affair.
  45. You need to sack someone.
  46. One of your team has made a mistake which has cost the company millions of pounds.
  47. Someone on your team repeatedly bends the rules.
  48. You have to discipline a team member who is also a friend.
  49. Someone on your team is drinking heavily.
  50. One of your team loses their driving licence, which they need to do the job.
  51. It seems one of your team has been stealing.
  52. You find one of your team is on the fiddle.
  53. You discover one of your team members has a dodgy police record.
  54. You discover one of your team gave false qualifications/false references when they got the job.


    2: Your managers

  55. You think your boss is rubbish.
  56. You don't like your boss.
  57. The boss is picking on you personally.
  58. Your boss is prejudiced against you.
  59. Your boss expects you to be a workaholic but you have family commitments and can't keep working late.
  60. Your boss seems to think you're permanently on call.
  61. Your boss is having a tough time at home or work and is taking it out on you.
  62. Your boss is having a tough time at home or work and bursts into tears in front of you.
  63. Your boss takes credit for your ideas.
  64. Your boss blames you for their mistake.
  65. You think your boss has made a major mistake.
  66. You think your boss is about to make a major mistake.
  67. You've got two bosses who both expect you to work full time for them alone.
  68. You are given targets you know are unrealistic and can't be met.
  69. You're expected to do something illegal.
  70. You're expected to do something you consider unethical.
  71. Badly chaired meetings are wasting your time.
  72. You need to clear a blocked line of communication upwards.
  73. You can't get senior management to listen to your idea.
  74. You have to choose between keeping your shareholders happy or doing the right thing by your staff.

    3: Colleagues

  75. A colleague in a different department is making your working life unbearable. You have no common boss; how do you handle it?
  76. A colleague blows up at you in a meeting.
  77. You have a colleague who regularly turns meetings into a battlefield.
  78. A colleague in your team is no good but your boss can't see it.
  79. A colleague puts emotional pressure on you to do something you don't have time to do.
  80. A colleague in your team is being manipulative.
  81. You are being sexually harassed by a colleague.
  82. You've discovered that one of your colleagues is breaking the rules.

    4: Customers and suppliers

  83. You have an angry customer because you messed up.
  84. You have an angry customer because one of your team messed up.
  85. You realise you can't deliver on a promise to a customer.
  86. A major customer threatens to go elsewhere unless you make concessions you can't afford.
  87. A disgruntled customer threatens to go to your manager/the top of your organisation/the press
  88. One of your customers is wrong.
  89. You know one of your customers is lying to you.
  90. One of your important customers is demanding more of your time than you can afford to give them.
  91. A good and previously reliable supplier lets you down badly.
  92. You have a PR crisis on your hands.

    5: You

  93. You realise you've made a bad decision and you're asked to justify it.
  94. Someone reneges on a promise but you didn't get it in writing.
  95. It's discovered that you haven't told the truth.
  96. You have to take a really close decision.
  97. You have vastly more work than time, everything's important and people are depending on you.
  98. You are promoted over former colleagues.
  99. You are promoted over people older than you.
  100. You are promoted over someone who really resents you.
  101. You have to choose between work and family.
  102. Your work encroaches on your personal time.
  103. You feel you can't cope with the pressure.



Malcolm Hornby is a Management Consultant and Trainer with Delta Management, a Human Resource consultancy, which he founded in 1990. He specialises in initiatives associated with organisational change involving communication skills, managing change, leadership and teams, and organisational development. Over the past 15 years, Malcolm has trained hundreds of people in organisations as diverse as the prison service, accountancy, medicine, local government, engineering, software systems, food manufacture and pharmaceuticals. He has written numerous articles on management skills, is the author of 3 Easy Steps to the Job You Want, Prentice Hall (now in its 2nd edition) and is Managing Director of the E-commerce business