How To Fix A Broken Work Relationship

The guy who never responds to your emails. The woman who shuts down every idea you pitch. The boss who’s always late to your one-on-one meetings. Difficult coworkers aren’t always difficult in the same way, but your working relationships always impact your job satisfaction and ability to get things done. Need to fix a work relationship gone bad? Try these four steps:

Check Yourself (Before You Wreck Yourself)

Examine the situation and your reactions. Do you tend to always have problems dealing with a particular type of communication or behavior? Be honest with yourself about how you might be contributing to the problem and brainstorm ways to avoid your triggers. If you’re hyper-organized and have a colleague who is never prepared for team meetings, you might avoid frustration by emailing a call for agenda items before each meeting as a reminder, or you might try starting each meeting by reviewing notes from the previous meeting together and following-up on any outstanding projects. Try seeking advice from a friend or colleague outside your department who can offer an impartial assessment of the problem and help you brainstorm solutions.

Stop The Negative Talk

Once you’ve got a clear idea of where your work relationship is going sour, the first step in fixing the problem is re-establishing trust. Get in the habit of speaking positively to and about your coworker, and cut out negative talk and office gossip. When you’ve spent months (or years) annoyed by your coworker’s mistakes, it’s easy to get into the habit of looking for faults, missteps, and judgments to pass. Challenge yourself recognize the good work this person is doing (there has to be at least one thing they’re doing right), acknowledge it, and say thank you. You’ll be surprised how much negativity can be diffused just by reinforcing the positive things that happen at work.

Get Real

One of the best ways to build positive work relationships is to share more about yourself and get to know the other person better. After you’ve built that initial bridge, look for shared interests and opportunities to participate in activities outside work. Going to lunch or happy hour together can spark new ideas and help you become real friends. It’s harder to think of a colleague a thoughtless jerk when you just shared a plate of mozzarella sticks, and you’re less likely to forget to reply to emails or leave projects unfinished when you remember there’s a person counting on you to finish those expense reports before she leaves for vacation. Invite other colleagues along when you socialize and give the whole team a chance to form bonds outside the office.

Be Consistent

Don’t stop working on this relationship once you’ve reached a neutral ground. Continue working on your interpersonal skills by focusing on teamwork and offering help and support where you can. This may not stop your coworker from being a shameless showoff, but they’re less likely to take sole credit for work you did together if you’ve formed a strong bond. Make your colleagues feel valued by sharing information and resources, and don’t be afraid to offer them the opportunity to participate in new projects that can help you establish a closer connection.

When Is It Time To Find A New Job?

This post brought to you via Are you a Georgetown student? Register with your GU e-mail address for free access to premium content on Vault. 

Think your job is stressful? Talk to Alyssa Mastromonaco, who spent six years as assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for operations during the Obama administration. In her recent memoir, Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?, Mastromonaco writes that her schedule was so hectic she and her team found themselves sleeping on the floor of Air Force One and sharing two tiny bathrooms to change and freshen up. Sleep wasn’t something she had much of during her time at the White House. In an interview with NPR’s Fresh Air, she described the side effects of sleep deprivation as one one of the things that forced her realize it was time to leave her job.

About the end of 2012, I was in my office with David Plouffe, and I was typing while I was talking to him ’cause I can do that. And he said, ‘Alyssa, what are you doing?’ And I’m like, ‘What do you mean?’ He’s like, ‘None of the words on your computer screen are words.’ And I looked and it was just, like, gibberish, basically. And I realized that I wasn’t quite right, that something was off. I thought about it. I had been forgetting things a lot lately. Like, not big things but the things that are easy, like I’m in the car halfway to work and I couldn’t remember if I had fed my cat. And it turned out—they give me a gross neurological exam—that I was basically functioning on like 50 percent of my capacity and that I was very sleep deprived. And so that was actually when they said, ‘Look, you’ve got to start going to bed at 10 …’

And after about three weeks, I took the test again and I was up to, like, 85 percent. And so I was on the right track. But it was a sign that I was probably coming to the end of my time, and that I was so lucky to have had such incredible experiences. Maybe it was time for someone with fresh legs to take over and have the same experiences that I did …

My ideas just weren’t flowing. I was becoming the person who sat at the table and when someone had an idea, I’d be the one who said, ‘We did that, it didn’t work. We did that in 2011.’ I had too much memory. I’d been there too long. And so I decided that it was time for me to go because I wanted to leave on a high note. I never wanted to be that person that people are secretly meeting about about how to get them to realize their time has come so that they go. And so I was glad to sort of decide on my own terms that it was time to go. And it was a really nice send off.

Mastromonaco made a tough decision to leave the job she loved for two reasons. The first was her health. The unrelenting pace, the stress, and the lack of sleep had a detrimental impact on her wellbeing and ability to function. The second reason was that she’d run out of new ideas and felt stuck in a rut.

If you’re wondering whether it’s time for you to move on, look for the source of the problem. If you don’t have a solid work-life balance, is it because you’re burned out with work-related stress, or have you not prioritized life outside work? Most of us who don’t work at the White House typically don’t have the always-on schedule that had Mastromonaco fielding 3AM phone calls, but that doesn’t mean that we’re good at disconnecting from work and re-energizing. If you feel that your health and energy are suffering, follow Mastromonaco’s lead and try getting enough sleep and taking better care of yourself. If you don’t see your thoughts becoming clearer and your energy increasing, it might be time to look for a new position that will let you start fresh.

Likewise, if you’ve become the person on your team who is always quick to shut down new ideas, try taking a step back from “this is the way we’ve always done it.” Find an opportunity to restart, whether it’s the end of a project or the start of a new fiscal year, and try to approach your role and your organization as though you were a new employee. If your mental and emotional connection to the past still won’t let you recapture your creativity and passion, it might be time to look for a different role that’ll let you apply your expertise to a new challenge.

Think it’s time for you to find a new job? We’re here to help you take the next step.

Check out our career resources for Georgetown CCPE students >>

Learn how Georgetown helped Obama staffers transition after the White House >>

What’s The Difference Between A Certificate And A Certification?

Thinking about earning a new credential? A certificate program can deliver a curriculum designed by experienced industry leaders and academics, but what if your field requires a professional certification? Wondering what differentiates a certificate from a certification and when it’s a good idea to earn one or the other? Check out our infographic to find out.


How To Choose The Right Educational Program For Your Career Goals >>

Explore Georgetown’s professional certificate programs >>

How To Choose The Right Educational Program For Your Career Goals

ccpe_getty-stock_157859718-625You want to advance professionally. You know you need more education, but there are so many options – another bachelor’s degree, a graduate program, or even a certificate. Which program is right for you? It depends on a number of factors including your career trajectory, your financial circumstances, and where you are in life. Explore the differences between these types of programs and what they can do for your career.

Second Bachelor’s 

A second bachelor’s degree or post-baccalaureate program can be an important step in retooling your career, especially if you are especially if you are looking to develop your knowledge about an entirely different subject than you initially studied. If you can’t get into your desired master’s degree without a bachelor’s in the subject, or if your immediate career goals only require a bachelor’s degree, this can be a good option. Most second bachelor’s programs require 30 undergraduate credits and take one to two years to complete.

Graduate School 

A master’s or doctoral program can be an excellent option if you already have academic or professional experience in a field and you are looking to deepen your knowledge. There are many different types of master’s programs focusing on different skills – e.g., A Master’s of Arts (MA) or Master’s of Science (MS) will typically be a research-based program that prepares students for doctoral study and teaching careers. Other master’s programs such as a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) will typically help students develop business and management skills and prepare them for advancement in the workforce. Gradaute degrees typically require 30 to 60 graduate credits and take one to three years of full-time coursework to complete.


Just like bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, certificates are also available in a variety of fields and show future employers that you have adequate preparation in a subject area that is not necessarily the subject in which you have a degree. Certificate programs can be a great option at any stage of your career to develop new skills and competencies. Certificate programs typically require three to eight noncredit courses and can be completed in a few weeks or a few months.

Each type of program will require a different time and financial investment, and help students develop different knowledge and skills. Still unsure which program is right for you? Think about these factors which can influence your enrollment decision:

Career Trajectory

Is your goal advancement within the same industry, a career change, or something else? Explore the experiential and educational requirements for the job you’re hoping to move into. Advanced degrees allow you to meet specific educational requirements, while certificates demonstrate your expertise in a focused area.

Knowledge & Skills Gaps

Identify the specific knowledge or skills you want to gain through your next educational program. If you’re looking for a deep-dive, a master’s degree can broaden your knowledge and give you the opportunity to conduct extensive research or project work. If you are looking for a short-term, targeted program that will deliver immediate skill acquisition, a certificate may be a better option.


How much time are you ready to invest in continuing your education? If you’re seeking an immediate return on investment, a certificate can be completed in a few months and help you develop skills that you can immediately apply on the job. If you have long-term advancement goals and can make time for deep work on graduate-level research, a master’s or doctoral program that will take a few years to complete may be a better fit.


What educational funding is available to you? Certificate programs are typically shorter and less expensive than degree programs, however, there are usually more scholarship, loan, and financial aid opportunities for those pursuing a degree. When thinking about cost, do some research on what kind of return you can expect on your investment — whether that be a salary increase or improved job satisfaction. If you’re currently employed, also check with your employer to find out if your employer has an education budget for employee development.

Deciding between educational programs is challenging, and may not be an either-or decision. An increasing number of students will earn a graduate degree and one or more certificates at different points in their careers. The best thing you can do for your career is to never stop learning.

Looking for a career boost? 4 more reasons a certificate could be just what you need >>

Explore Georgetown’s professional certificate programs >>

Learning Customer Strategy and Business Development

In advance of teaching Customer Strategy and Business Development in the Marketing Certificate program at Georgetown School of Continuing Studies, I talked to students to learn what they wanted from their courses.  The common theme from students was that they want less theory and more practical, real-world examples and experience.

As I set out to structure my class, I decided to invite sales, marketing and digital strategy leaders from business and government to share their perspectives on key concepts.  Leveraging connections I’ve made during my sales and marketing career at Fig Leaf Software, the students had the opportunity to interact with and learn from:

Over the course of the class, students learned first-hand from a variety of business leaders with expertise in account management, pipeline management, customer segmentation, persona development, journey mapping, pricing strategies, and customer engagement.  During the class, we also dove into the future of sales and marketing with marketing automation, customer relationship management (CRM) software and Big Data.

One of the highlights of the class was the session on the future of marketing with Artificial Intelligence (AI), where students learned about how AI is being used by marketers today and how it will impact marketers as AI expands its reach.  The class learned about using AI for content generation and curation, social semantics, speech and language recognition, predictive customer service, sales forecasting, customer segmentation, product pricing, as well as ad targeting and even website design.  Want to learn more about the class?  Connect with me on LinkedIn.

Sign up to take Customer Strategy and Business Development >>