Expert chat about problems at work

Lyssa has worked in recruitment for sixteen years and currently works as a recruitment head for UBS London, managing a team of eight. Here, she joins us for an expert chat about problems at work and shares her advice for overcoming them.

Lyssa, our work expert from UBS

Lyssa, our work expert from UBS

Chrissi: I recently started a new job and one of my colleagues really frustrates me. She often interrupts and talks over the top of other people. And the points she makes are just loads of previous work stories which are hard to believe. I had a chat about problems regarding her with one of my colleagues but haven’t talked to anyone else about it. What should I do?

Lyssa: It can be so difficult when you don’t get on with colleagues. Depending on the situation, sometimes the best thing to do when someone’s talking too much is to have a quiet word with them. Be ready to give a specific example of when she was, for instance, rude. However, if you’re not comfortable with that, maybe you and your colleague could speak to a member of management about it. But it might be worth waiting a bit to see what the situation is like in a few months’ time. A key thing to remember is that if her behaviour bothers you, it’ll bother others. Eventually someone will pick up on it.

Mali: If you feel your workload is too much to cope with, when should you tell your manager and how should you approach the subject?

Lyssa: You should mention it as soon as you feel like you’re not able to perform your best at work. Ask your manager for a quick meeting, and explain honestly that you are overloaded. Have a straightforward chat about problems you’re facing and give examples. A good manager will appreciate you coming to them, so that they can find a solution. I have a team of eight, and I know it’s easier for me if they tell me straight away. If you wait until you can’t cope any more, you’ll end up getting demoralised and stop enjoying your job.           

Letty: Lyssa, I’m assuming you conduct interviews. If so, what do you look for when interviewing candidates?

Lyssa: That’s a great question. Preparation. It’s a good sign when someone has prepared a little for their meeting. Honesty. Good non-verbal communication like eye contact and body language. And finally, a real interest in the job.                                                                                                     

Rebecca: Does your company value experience outside of work?

Lyssa: It’s a good sign of someone with a well-rounded personality. For example, if they volunteer or write a blog. Our firm has loads of non-work activities and societies, so we always want to hire people who’ll make use of them and enjoy them. Volunteering is a great one. It shows an interest in others, and a drive to help. Those qualities are big green flags for us.

Sam: If during an interview you don’t know the answer to a question or need time to think, what’s the best approach?

Lyssa: If you don’t know, be honest and say that you don’t know. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’ll show them that you’re willing to learn and ask for help when needed. If you need time, just say ‘give me a moment…’ and take your time to think of a response. A good interviewer will be patient with you. If the interviewer makes you uncomfortable with their style, that might be a sign that this isn’t the company for you.                                                                                                                                   

Sandy: Legally, do you need to tell your employer if you take medication?

Lyssa: No, not at all. Unless it’ll have a direct impact on your ability to do your job

James: We should also mention that if it’s medication related to a mental health condition, this is protected under the Discrimination Act. For more support, we have an article about mental health at work. It says: “Legally, people with mental health issues have the same protection as those with physical illnesses, so your company’s sickness policy will apply to you. Although, it’s likely you’ll need a GP to confirm that you have mental health problems.” But “it’s entirely up to you whether you wish to tell them or not.”

Lyssa: One in four people have mental health problems – we definitely need to be taking that more seriously in a work environment. However, you’re not required by law to disclose anything related to mental health to your employer. This includes a diagnosis, treatment or sessions with licensed therapists. It’s completely up to you what you share.

Jem: I recently didn’t get a voluntary role I applied for which I really wanted. How should I approach this? I really want to volunteer for that organisation.

Lyssa: A good first step might be asking them for some feedback. It’s important to know what happened here, so keep trying even if it’s difficult to get hold of them. That way you can use their constructive points to improve for next time. But don’t beat yourself up about it, people often go through hundreds of rejections before getting a yes. It just comes with the territory of applications.

Jem: I was thinking of contacting them and asking if there’s another role I could fulfil within that organisation. Maybe I could even include a bit about what I can do for the organisation and what I want to achieve in the role.

Lyssa: Direct contact about other roles is a good idea as it shows you’re really interested. The fact that you’re willing to keep trying says a great deal about you. So, go for it! You could mention your disappointment at not getting the first role and how keen you are to work with them. But you should also know when to leave it be. If they say no to this proposition then set your sights elsewhere. We’re sure there are tonnes of places that would be lucky to have you!

Next Steps

  • Search Do-it for information about volunteering and opportunities in your local area.
  • Download Motimator - an app that helps you get the career you want - by giving you a gentle kick up the ass each day when motivation is running low.
  • Prospects is the UK's official graduate jobs website.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 22-Jan-2022