1. Skip to content

Using Your Judgment

What do you do when there is trouble at work? How you respond may determine whether you keep your job.

Even when you have the skills to do a job, situations may occur that challenge you. What you do when faced with these challenges may determine your success on the job.

The best way to handle conflicts at work is to think about them in advance. Have a plan to deal with them. Below are three common situations that can occur at work. Think about these situations and try to answer the questions. Talk about your responses to the questions with your job coach or other job seekers. 

Situation 1: Working with Others

Marion is a cashier at the local garden center. She has worked there a long time and knows many of the customers. She enjoys talking to them when they are paying for their purchases. The customers enjoy talking to Marion, too.

When customers need help carrying large items, Marion calls for assistance. One Wednesday, Marion called for help and her coworker George came to the counter. Marion and the customer were talking. George got tired of waiting and told Marion, "You talk too much, and you're wasting my time. I'm leaving now. Don't call me again. You can help the customer yourself."

The customer was shocked, and Marion was upset. Marion didn't know what to say to George.

  • What should Marion say to the customer?
  • Should Marion report this incident to her supervisor?
  • What should Marion say to George?
  • Was George right? What could George have done differently?

Situation 2: Managing Time Effectively

Juan has worked at the car wash for several years. He does his job quickly and well. Tony is a new employee. He has had many jobs and really wants to keep this one, but he knows people don't like to work with him.

Juan doesn't like to work with Tony because Tony is always talking. He talks about everything, and when he talks, he doesn't work. Juan finishes his side of the car long before Tony does. When Tony tries to catch up, he misses a lot. Juan thinks Tony could do a better job if he stopped talking and paid attention to his job.

Juan is frustrated and worried about the customers. Tony is afraid he is going to lose another job.

  • What should Juan say to Tony about his work performance?
  • What should Juan say to their supervisor when asked what he thinks of Tony's work?
  • What should Tony do in order to keep his job?

Situation 3: Following Procedures

Lee stocks shelves at a large discount grocery store. She is supposed to take a carton from the storeroom, go to the correct shelf, place the items on the shelf, and take the carton back.

Yesterday, Lee decided it would be quicker to bring several cartons out at once, so she could stock several shelves without returning to the storeroom. She left the cartons on the floor in front of the correct shelves. A customer came around the corner of the aisle, didn't notice the cartons on the floor, and tripped over them. Lee helped him up and made sure he was OK. He wasn't seriously hurt, but he bruised his leg.

Later that day, Lee's manager Sandra asked Lee how things were going. Lee isn't sure what to say. If Lee tells Sandra about the incident, Sandra will know she wasn't following proper procedures. If she doesn't tell Sandra and the customer returns later with a complaint, Lee could be in serious trouble.

  • What should Lee say to Sandra?
  • What should Lee learn from this incident about following procedures?
  • What do you think Sandra's reaction will be if Lee tells her about the incident?

These are only a few of the situations that may happen at work. It is impossible to predict what may happen on the job, but it is important to keep your values clearly in mind.

Also, think about things from other peoples' points of view. Consider your supervisors, coworkers, and customers. Keeping a job is as much about getting along with others as it is about skills.

Next Steps: