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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Question: “After giving me the good news about my promotion, my new boss said, ‘I understand that you don’t like to be told what to do. You’ll have to work on that.’ This really bothered me because it is simply not true. I believe my former manager may have discredited me while recommending someone else for the position. Although I defended myself to my boss, I’m afraid he’s going to view me negatively in the future. Should I discuss this with him again or just let time prove him wrong?” Misrepresented

Question: "We work in a very busy medical practice where every patient visit requires that several people record information on the patient’s chart. When information is missing or incomplete, the person with the patient has to stop everything and go find the one who handled the chart last. These interruptions occur throughout the day, waste a lot of time, and create a great deal of frustration. How can we run this office more efficiently and stop being so snippy with each other?" Concerned Co-worker

Question: "A woman in our office complains constantly. A couple of us thought she might be depressed, so we suggested that she contact our employee assistance program. However, she didn’t like what the counselor said, so she won’t go back. Times are tough, and her chronic negativity makes everything more depressing. What should we do?" Tired of Listening

Question: "What’s the current view on the appropriateness of hugging at work? On television, I frequently see politicians hugging staff members or celebrities hugging their colleagues. This makes me wonder about proper workplace etiquette. What’s your advice?"  Uncertain

Question: “Our human resources manager frequently takes home confidential employee information. Recently, he left personnel files on the front seat of his car while it was being serviced at a garage. Given the risk of identity theft, this seems highly irresponsible. His boss doesn’t seem to care, so what can we do?”  Concerned

Question: “Management keeps pushing me to work longer hours. A few months ago, I finally refused to stay late anymore, citing the need to spend time with my family. Since then, I have been deliberately sidelined from important projects. My last performance review included negative comments about my unwillingness to work extra hours. I would look for another position, but the job market for people in my field is very tight. I can’t afford to lose my paycheck, so what should I do?”  Resentful

Question: "We have a boss who doesn't act like a boss. Although he listens to our suggestions, he never follows through with them. He seems hesitant to involve upper management in any issue. This is driving us crazy, so your advice would be appreciated."  Frustrated Employees

Question: "How do you respond to colleagues who ask a lot of personal questions? Recently, I had to take vacation on short notice to care for my sick daughter-in-law. Before I left, my co-workers kept asking where I was going and whether my husband was going with me. I managed to dodge the questions, but their nosiness caught me off guard. How should I handle this in the future?"  Not a Busybody

Question: “I work the late shift in a hospital laboratory and usually sleep for a while before going in. The other night, my supervisor called and asked if I was available. When my husband said I was sleeping, my boss explained that he needed me to come in early because of a 'medical crisis.' My husband refused to wake me and suggested calling someone else. He is protective of my sleeping time and insists that management can’t make me come in early because there is no 'on call' policy. Does my supervisor have the right to make me go in early? And how should we handle any future calls?”  Losing Sleep

Question: "I approached my boss about a pay increase after my one-year employment anniversary. He told me the company had a freeze on wages, but that something 'might be possible in a couple of months.' When I checked back three months later, he said the freeze was still on and used the poor economy as an excuse. I have a lot of traits that any business would want, and it’s not my fault the economy is in bad shape. Why should this company get my services at a price below my market value?"  Underpaid
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