Marie McIntyre, Ph. D, Your Office Coach

Question:  “After our company was acquired, the environment became very negative and unpleasant. Many employees were being asked to leave. I felt that I should take control of my career, so I gave eight weeks notice and departed on good terms. However, I did not have another job lined up. Now I’m wondering if I’ve made a fatal career mistake. I have had many interviews, but no job offers. When asked why I left, I say, “I felt my skills were not being fully utilized, so I decided to move in a different direction”.  Is this the best way to explain my decision?” — Worried

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Question:  “After our company was acquired, the environment became very negative and unpleasant. Many employees were being asked to leave. I felt that I should take control of my career, so I gave eight weeks notice and departed on good terms. However, I did not have another job lined up. Now I’m wondering if I’ve made a fatal career mistake. I have had many interviews, but no job offers. When asked why I left, I say, “I felt my skills were not being fully utilized, so I decided to move in a different direction”.  Is this the best way to explain my decision?” — Worried

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Question: “My manager frequently talks to one of my co-workers, “Claire,” about the performance problems of another team member. I’ve told Claire that I think it’s wrong for our boss to be discussing this other employee with her. Claire says she doesn’t mind being used as a sounding board. She’s convinced that she’s helping, but I disagree. What do you think?” — Offended

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Question: “My manager frequently talks to one of my co-workers, “Claire,” about the performance problems of another team member. I’ve told Claire that I think it’s wrong for our boss to be discussing this other employee with her. Claire says she doesn’t mind being used as a sounding board. She’s convinced that she’s helping, but I disagree. What do you think?” — Offended

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Question: “Our work group plans to start a “Sunshine Fund” to buy gifts for special occasions, like birthdays, weddings and baby showers. One person wants to post a list showing the dollar amount contributed by each employee, but I think that’s a horrible idea.  How can we do this so that people who can’t afford to contribute won’t feel obligated or uncomfortable?” —  Fair-Minded

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Question: “Our work group plans to start a “Sunshine Fund” to buy gifts for special occasions, like birthdays, weddings and baby showers. One person wants to post a list showing the dollar amount contributed by each employee, but I think that’s a horrible idea.  How can we do this so that people who can’t afford to contribute won’t feel obligated or uncomfortable?” —  Fair-Minded

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Question:  “I am a young, ambitious employee in a large agency where many people spend their time doing anything but work. They play computer games, surf the web, take smoke breaks, read the paper, discuss TV shows, gossip about celebrities, manage their finances, and plan vacations. When these lazy co-workers try to give me their assigned tasks, I always reply courteously by saying, “Just OK it with the manager, then I’ll be glad to help you.”  So far, our boss hasn’t given me any of their work. Because my goal is to get into management, I can’t decide whether to officially report this widespread abuse of time. Doing so could either demonstrate my initiative and dedication or mark me as a whistle-blower and kill my chances for advancement.” — Hard Worker

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Question:  “I am a young, ambitious employee in a large agency where many people spend their time doing anything but work. They play computer games, surf the web, take smoke breaks, read the paper, discuss TV shows, gossip about celebrities, manage their finances, and plan vacations. When these lazy co-workers try to give me their assigned tasks, I always reply courteously by saying, “Just OK it with the manager, then I’ll be glad to help you.”  So far, our boss hasn’t given me any of their work. Because my goal is to get into management, I can’t decide whether to officially report this widespread abuse of time. Doing so could either demonstrate my initiative and dedication or mark me as a whistle-blower and kill my chances for advancement.” — Hard Worker

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Question: “After making a career change, I am six weeks into a new job at a large health care company. I hope to be promoted to a specific position in the next three years. In trying to get ahead, I understand the importance of all the basic stuff, like good attendance, proper dress, meeting deadlines and so forth. But can you suggest any other smart moves for career-minded new employees?”

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Question:  “I work for a boss who is physically abusive. He’s never touched me, but I’ve seen him snap other female employees with rubber bands, leaving a bruise. He likes to punch the male employees and hit them in the head. He says he’s just “playing around.” “Barbara,” the owner of our small company, works closely with this man and relies on him a lot. However, she has no idea about his abusive behavior. I’ve started documenting his actions, but I don’t know how to tell Barbara. — Fearful

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