Your Office Coach

Each Wednesday, nationally syndicated workplace columnist Marie G. McIntyre, Ph. D., answers your “in the trenches” workplace questions on everything from team-building to getting a raise to dealing with difficult people.

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Q: “After twenty years in the same job, I recently had to look for work when our family moved to a different city. The problem is that I'm already having serious thoughts about quitting. I dread going to the office every day, because I feel totally out of my comfort zone. The work is very different from what I did before, and I'm beginning to doubt my abilities. Although I feel an obligation to fulfill my commitment here, I sometimes wonder if perhaps I should be totally honest with my boss and tell her that I need to leave. On the other hand, there are very few positions available in my field, and it took me a long time to find this one. I’m not sure what to do, because I just don't like this job.” Panicked

Q: “My wife works in a production department where only a few employees have permission to work overtime. Everyone else must leave at the end of the shift. The people who receive these extra hours seem to have close ties with the supervisor. Does my wife have any recourse in this situation?” Need the Money

Q: “A woman in our department has become the self-appointed party planner. ‘Renee’ is constantly trying to organize office celebrations for birthdays, weddings and other events. Now Renee is trying to arrange a send-off for someone who is retiring. Since I have worked with the retiree longer than anyone else, Renee says I should do something for her. To be honest, I do not enjoy working with this person and am actually counting the days until she leaves. How can I politely tell Renee to stop bothering me?” Uninterested

Q: “You have previously said that cubicle conversations cannot be considered private because they take place in an open area. However, my situation is slightly different. Whenever someone comes to me with a question, the woman in the next cubicle yells out the answer before I have a chance to speak. I think it is very rude of her to butt in when someone has specifically asked for my opinion. How should I handle this?” Drowned Out

Q: "I would like to know how very brief jobs should be handled on a résumé. My most recent position was eliminated after I had been there only eight weeks. If I include it, employers may wonder why I left so quickly. But if I omit it, how do I explain why I left the preceding job?"

Q: “I’m a single mom who has been unemployed for about six months. In my previous position, I had a flexible schedule which allowed me to easily attend school events or schedule medical appointments for my two young children. I have now been offered a 9-to-5 job located about an hour from my home. Although I'm relieved to have found this position, I’m afraid that the time I need for my children's activities may create problems at work. How should I handle this?” Solo Mom

Q: “I was recently moved to a desk right outside my boss's office. Every day, he and two staff members have lengthy discussions about personal matters and company gossip. I also overhear them criticizing other employees in our group. The person who sits next to me says I should just ignore these conversations, but this seems like very juvenile behavior for an office setting. Is there anything I can do about it?” Disgusted

Q: “Our manager is involved with a lot of community groups and charitable organizations. The problem is that whenever she participates in something, she sends the staff an email asking for contributions. We see no reason why employees should be expected to support their boss’s outside activities, but we don’t want to offend her and jeopardize our job security. Is there a polite way to tell our manager to stop these requests?” Intimidated 

Q: “An obnoxious co-worker was recently made the working supervisor of our nursing unit. In addition to being loud and slow, 'Ellen' is not as knowledgeable as she pretends to be. A few of her patients have asked for a different nurse. My problem is that while Ellen is in her learning curve, the rest of us have to pick up the slack and correct her mistakes. Every day, I tell myself that I won’t let Ellen get to me, but then she says something stupid, and I go crazy. I really loved my work before this woman was promoted. What should I do about this?” Dedicated Nurse

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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