In this series, manpower correspondent Calvin Yang offers practical answers to candid questions on navigating workplace challenges and getting ahead in your career.
Q: My boss keeps picking on me and criticising my work, although he stops short of outright bullying or workplace harassment. What can I do?
A: Take time to reflect and figure out what might have got you into this predicament.
Always begin with yourself - don't point fingers, advises NeXT Career Consulting Group managing director Paul Heng.
Maybe you are underperforming, or there are certain areas that you could pay more attention to at work. If it could be your fault, you could accept it as constructive criticism and ask for feedback on ways to improve.
If you are unsure, try asking your co-workers for a second opinion.
However, Mr Heng says: "If it is nothing of your doing, you can try speaking to your boss, sometimes it is his or her blind side, and share how you feel when you're picked upon."
Choose to arrange for a conversation to address the issue professionally, instead of confrontation, says PeopleWorldwide Consulting managing director David Leong.
When asking your boss for a meeting, frame it as work-related - and not something personal - so they would be more open and willing to talk, suggests Ms Linda Teo, country manager at ManpowerGroup Singapore.
During the conversation, take note of the points shared and use those as a guide to improve your work performance.
"If you sense that your boss is picking on you due to a clash in personality or working styles, then you need to tread carefully to avoid those pitfalls. If you know that your boss has a certain working style, then it is in your best interest to accommodate it to maintain harmony at work," Ms Teo stresses.
"Having said so, this does not mean that you should tolerate your boss' unreasonable behaviour."
Unreasonable behaviours could include your boss throwing your work at you or shouting at you in front of your colleagues.
If the matter cannot be resolved after a few sessions, it should be escalated to human resources or another superior.
You can also report unfair workplace practices to the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices, which offers assistance for employees facing discrimination or harassment at work. You can report unfair workplace practices or harassment using this link.
Nitpicking crosses the line when it escalates to harassment, which is a criminal offence. If you have been threatened, insulted or abused, whether by behaviour, words or other forms of communication, you are likely a victim of workplace harassment.
While it is important to respect your boss, you also need to know your rights, notes Ms Teo.
"Being accommodating does not mean that you need to go to extreme lengths to satisfy your boss' whims and fancies."
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