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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: “I am upset and frustrated by the favoritism in my company. Some managers make employees follow the rules, while they allow people in other departments to be very disruptive. They sing, shout, chatter constantly, use foul language and dress inappropriately.  During my 12 years here, I have always enjoyed my job and received good performance reviews. The pay is excellent, and I get along well with management.  If I start over somewhere else, I will lose seniority and vacation time.  However, this unfairness keeps me feeling emotionally drained, and sometimes I think I should just leave.”  Distressed
Question: “When employers conduct background checks, what happens to applicants with a poor credit rating?  After I lost my health insurance, I fell on hard times due to extensive medical bills.  Now I’m on the verge of bankruptcy. I’m not applying for jobs that require me to handle cash or deal with financial records, but I still worry that poor credit may hurt my chances.  Should I tell interviewers about this issue before they check my background?”  Worried
Question: “I was recently hired to supervise two women who don’t seem to do much work. One does crossword puzzles and word search games all day. The other manages to look busy, but is actually surfing the Internet most of the time. I would like to improve this situation, but I’m not sure what to do. I have no training in management, and my boss has an “I don’t care” attitude because she’s leaving in a couple of weeks. Her replacement has already been selected. Should I wait until he starts before I talk to the employees?”  Need Help
Question: After being promoted to human resources manager, I discovered that I have been assigned to the most toxic division in our agency. The employees here constantly gossip, backbite and complain. I’ve heard that this is why the last HR manager left. I would love to play a major role in “cleaning up” this group, but I have to move carefully.  Some of these people have been here more than 15 years and are protected by civil service regulations.  Any suggestions?  HR Crusader
Question: After being promoted to human resources manager, I discovered that I have been assigned to the most toxic division in our agency. The employees here constantly gossip, backbite and complain. I’ve heard that this is why the last HR manager left. I would love to play a major role in “cleaning up” this group, but I have to move carefully.  Some of these people have been here more than 15 years and are protected by civil service regulations.  Any suggestions? HR Crusader
Question: Management keeps ignoring my request for a raise. During a performance review two years ago, I provided documentation of my expanded responsibilities and asked for a pay increase. Although
my supervisor said she wasn’t sure if the job changes would justify a raise, she never clearly stated whether she supported my request or not. I sent her several follow-up emails, but got no response. Last
year, I was transferred to another department. I sent my new supervisor an email requesting an increase, but he never replied.  Recently, I sent another email expressing disappointment in the complete lack of feedback about my previous requests. Again, no answer. Apparently, management won’t even take the
time to officially reject my request.  This feels like a slap in the face.  How should I react?  Unacknowledged
Question: No one at work seems to like me. I usually keep to myself, because my co-workers never act very interested. When I do try to communicate with them, I get a lot of odd reactions that seem fake.  I’m sick of all these people who apparently feel they have no faults. Management talks about employees being “family,” but that’s a complete crock.  My co-workers never act as though they care about me, so why should I care about them?  After being stuck here for four years, sometimes I just want to give up.  And I’m tired.  Discouraged
Question: A year ago, I joined a small company as their first marketing director.  Unfortunately, the owner seems to view my role as more tactical and administrative than strategic.  He never includes me in planning meetings or strategy sessions. I assumed that building a marketing function from scratch would be a valuable learning experience that could strengthen my résumé, but so far I’m only doing routine tasks. How can I encourage my boss to involve me at a higher level?  Left Out
Question: “What can be done about a co-worker who likes to play practical jokes?  He thinks it’s funny to create fictitious emails with rude comments, and then send them out under someone else’s name. He has even faxed unprofessional messages to customers as though they came from another employee.  When we confronted this guy, he denied everything, but we know he’s the guilty party. He seems to delight in creating chaos and conflict.  How do we put a stop to this?" Not Smiling
Question: Because of my hour-long commute, I would like to ask my boss for a more flexible work schedule. By working longer hours four days a week, I could eliminate one day of driving. I know that some of my co-workers would also welcome this arrangement. How should I approach my boss about this idea?  Tired of Driving
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