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Marie McIntyre, Ph. D, Your Office Coach

Q: “Because my English is not very good, I have a hard time contributing in management team meetings. I often feel ignored because the other managers don’t understand what I mean. I have a lot that I want to say, but my English always lets me down. Can you help?” Tongue-tied

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Q: “Although I have no problem getting job interviews when I send out my résumé, these conversations always end the same way. Interviewers praise my experience, but say they would prefer to hire someone with a college degree. I don’t have time to go to school, so how do I get around this degree problem?” Qualified Applicant

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Q: “Ever since ‘Brenda’ joined our department, I have been doing about 80% of our shared work. Brenda and I don’t have individual job descriptions. We are just expected to work together and get everything done. She is frequently tardy, takes long lunches and spends a lot of time on personal business. I usually wind up staying late to fix her mistakes and see that all the work is completed. Even after I confronted Brenda, she made no effort to change her behavior. When I complained to my boss, he thanked me for my hard work, but did nothing about Brenda. How can I deal with this situation if my manager won’t help?” Overworked

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Q: “I’m in the process of preparing performance reviews for my staff, but I’m already anticipating a disagreement with my boss. Our review form includes five ratings, with the middle one being ‘meets expectations.’ My boss will never approve a higher rating than that for anyone, because he says he expects people to always do their best. How can I make my manager understand that lower ratings are extremely discouraging to our best employees?” Mad Manager

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Q: “The owner of our business wants to put me in a management position without telling the staff that they report to me. He’s afraid that if he officially makes me the boss, some “old timers” will be upset. He says that if I lead meetings, approve vacation requests and participate in performance reviews, employees will automatically begin to regard me as their manager. If the owner goes through with this plan, I will be held accountable for results, but will have virtually no control over the staff’s performance. Isn’t he being somewhat unrealistic?” Baffled

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Q: “About a month ago, the owner of our company removed me from my position as division manager and brought in an outside hire. Although ‘Jeff’ is clearly unqualified for the job, I am now reporting to him. Jeff does not understand our business, but he tries to impress the owner by asking for unnecessary reports and copying him on every email. I am becoming increasingly angry, because I do not feel that Jeff should be my boss. How can I convince the owner that this guy is basically worthless?” Fed Up

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Q: “I’m afraid I may have screwed up an interview for a really good job. Everything was fine until the recruiter asked ‘What do you do in your spare time?’ The question caught me off guard, because no interviewer has ever asked me that. I mentioned a couple of activities that are perfectly legitimate, but not as noble as volunteering at a soup kitchen. I was not offered the position, and I believe my ‘free time’ response was the reason. What do you think about this?”

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Q: “Our company has a dress code, but you’d never know it from looking at our employees. Many of them come to work wearing old clothes that are sloppy and baggy. Prospective customers often visit this office for product demonstrations, so I have said many times that everyone must dress in a professional manner. The offenders reply that if I expect them to look better, I need to give them more money. How do I deal with this attitude?” Irritated Manager

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Q: “I work with a woman who is extremely nosy. ‘Shelly’ has read my email messages and looked at my cellphone to see who I am calling and texting. She has also tried to find out about medications that I am taking. Yesterday, I received roses at the office for my birthday, and Shelly actually opened the card to see who they were from. I want to do something about this invasion of privacy, but I don’t want to sound childish. What do you suggest?” Violated

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Q: “My team leader has started asking one of my co-workers to make changes to my projects. We are all software programmers, but we work on different products. Since I’m never told about these requests, the changes catch me off guard. When this started, I asked the team leader to keep me in the loop, but he hasn’t done that. How should I handle this?” Left Out

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