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: “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

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

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

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

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 

Q: “For three years, I have been stuck with an irritating co-worker who loves to aggravate me. Although I try to hold my tongue, I can’t seem to stop myself from responding to her personal digs. I’ve told her numerous times to leave me alone, but to no avail. My boss says I’m too sensitive and that I should just ‘suck it up.’ I tried complaining to Human Resources, but they were no help. Quitting my job isn’t possible, so what can I do?” Harassed

Q: “The manager who hired me resigned a few months ago. His replacement is a great guy, but he is not familiar with our organization. Since he doesn't understand my role, he gives me assignments that are well below my level. I’ve recently learned that less qualified people are working on projects which should have been mine. I’ve also heard that my boss goes to other departments for information that he could easily get from me. It’s no secret that our company may have layoffs this year, and I’m afraid I might be on the list. I obviously need to have a conversation with my manager, but I’m not sure what to say.” Overlooked

Q: “After three months on the job, I have concluded that this is a toxic workplace. I originally took this position just to have a paycheck, but now I feel trapped, because my long hours leave me no time to look for another job. Even though I’m a new graduate, I have enough savings to last for a year. Should I consider quitting?” Fed Up 

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: “I share an office with a very nosy woman. ‘Tricia’ constantly monitors my activities and asks what I’m doing. My job involves spending time on the Internet, so she probably thinks I’m Web surfing. Tricia seems jealous of my friendship with other co-workers and frequently inquires about their personal business. Although I love my job, I’m becoming paranoid about my office mate. What should I do?” Tricia’s Target

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