Marie McIntyre, Ph. D, Your Office Coach

Q: “Our staff was recently asked to attend a ‘professional development’ session put on by a comedy group. The topic was supposed to be communication. Much of the material was funny, but there were also lots of crude and offensive jokes. Although our work environment is not normally like this, management did nothing to stop the inappropriate comments. Do I have the right to walk out of a meeting where people are making objectionable remarks?” Disheartened

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Q: “I have learned about some unethical behavior in the small community bank where I work. The CEO’s son was hired as a loan officer. He drives the bank car to lunch and takes it home every night. His secretary says he uses a bank credit card to fill up his truck and has even charged some personal items. This amounts to stealing from the bank, which is especially annoying because employees received no raise last year. I would like to report him to the Board of Directors, but my only evidence is what his secretary told me. I’m also afraid that I might jeopardize my job. What should I do?”

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Q: “My manager is always receptive to new ideas, so I have never hesitated to make suggestions. However, I was surprised by his reaction to my latest proposal. After describing inefficiencies in our department, I presented some ways to correct them. These changes would have given me more responsibility and a higher-level position. My boss took offense and said that many of these responsibilities belong to him. I quickly backed off, saying that I was simply trying to help. Now I’m reluctant to propose any new ideas for fear of jamming my foot in my mouth again.” Burned Once

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Q: “For the past few weeks, one of my co-workers has been watching me closely and finding fault with my work. She keeps telling me what to do, even though she’s not my supervisor. I actually have more experience than she does. Should I tell my manager about this? I don’t want him to think I’m complaining.” Jenny

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Q: “I was recently promoted to manage a group of people who used to be my peers. Even though I was the team lead for a year, I’m finding it hard to supervise my former co-workers. As their manager, I feel that I am not being authoritative enough. How should I handle this?” Novice Boss

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Q: “I supervise a data clerk who is rude and uncooperative. She acts independently, as if I don’t exist, and snaps at me whenever I tell her something. My manager and I have discussed this, but have not been able to come up with a solution. There is just no way to communicate with her. Any suggestions?” Defeated

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Q: “I work the morning shift as a waitress in a small, privately-owned restaurant. We have a new cook, ‘Chuck,’ who works in the afternoon. When I’m trying to leave at the end of my shift, Chuck starts telling me to make egg salad or bring him cheese from the cooler. Chuck also tells me to clean the meat slicer, which also is clearly part of his job. When another waitress and I work on the night shift with him, he never helps us clean up after closing. He just plays video games and waits for us to give him a ride home. The owner is not usually around to see these problems. How should I handle this?” Overworked

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Q: “Everyone in our eight-person office uses my desk, even though they all have desks of their own. They say that I have the fastest computer. While sitting there, they also go through my desk drawers, which seems disrespectful. I realize that I don’t personally own this equipment, but as an administrative assistant, I have to be at my desk to work. I don’t think my boss knows about this, because I’ve never told him. What should I do?” Edged Out

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Q: “My boss, who owns the business, recently added her daughter to our staff. At first, ‘Tammy’ and I had a good working relationship. However, I soon began receiving complaints from clients about mistakes that she had made. When I mentioned these issues to my boss, she seemed to understand and did not overreact. The problems continued, so I finally had to call Tammy in for a performance discussion. She said I was picking on her and complained to her mother. When I provided documentation of Tammy’s errors, my boss became furious and said I should not be keeping a file on her daughter. Now I’m not sure what to do. How can I manage Tammy without committing career suicide?” Mystified Manager

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Q: “My 19-year-old son spent six months in jail for a probation violation. He was on probation because he took our neighbor’s car without permission so that he could go see his girlfriend. Recently, he was turned down for a warehouse position after the employer learned about his arrest during a background check. How should he handle his record when looking for a job?” Concerned Mom 

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