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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:  My boss thinks that he’s a manager, but he really doesn’t manage at all. Even though he owns the business, he’s gone most of the time.  He avoids problems, hates confrontation and makes decisions based on his mood that particular day.
Question: “A friend has had several interviews for counseling positions.  Although she feels that they have gone well, she is never asked back for a second round. She is well-qualified, has a Master’s degree, and presents herself very professionally.  I’m afraid the problem may be her age (57) or the fact that she and her husband filed for bankruptcy last year. What do you think?"  —Wanting to Help
Question:  “I can’t stand my new co-worker, even though she seemed nice at first.  After only a few months, this woman is already trying to take over.  She constantly sucks up to our boss, so now he listens to her instead of me.  Whenever I talk about my personal life, she becomes very critical and starts telling me what to do...
Question: “One of my co-workers seldom talks to me anymore.  She used to joke and laugh all the time.  When I ask, ‘What’s the matter?’ she says, ‘Nothing.’  What do I do? — Frozen Out
Question: "My wife seems to be trapped by her fear of looking for work. She used to do freelance projects, but she has never had to find a permanent position 'from scratch.' Her idea of conducting a job search is to stay home and complete online applications. Because of my job, we recently moved to a new city where she doesn’t know anyone.  If I suggest making phone calls or visiting potential employers, she breaks down..."
Question: “Last year, when family matters required my attention, I left my full-time job as a graphic designer.  I have now decided to semi-retire and would like a part-time position with flexible hours. I am 53 years old and don’t need a lot of income. I would like some advice on how to state my preferences to potential employers.”  —Ready to Cut Back
Question:  “Since taking this job four months ago, I have been bothered by a co-worker’s relationship with my manager. This woman does everything for him. She even writes his emails and drives him on personal errands. In return, he occasionally covers up for her and handles some of her responsibilities when she has a deadline to meet. He also shares a lot of information with her...
Question: “In our four-person office, one employee is habitually late every morning. The rest of us work a full eight hours, so we are tired of her tardiness. Otherwise, we all get along fine. Our boss doesn't see us arrive, so he has no clue that she is always late. We believe she is taking advantage of this situation.  What should we do?”  —Punctual Co-workers
Question: “The five part-time people in this office don’t like our manager. However, my co-worker and I, who work full-time, like him very much. We wanted to take him to lunch for Boss’s Day, but the part-timers wouldn’t agree, so we did nothing. For the holidays, we wanted to give our manager a group gift, but...
Question:  “Our new director wants to be 'more available by being less available.' He says we must make an appointment to meet with him, then he will come to our office at the scheduled time. His explanation is that managing our time will increase everyone’s productivity.  As an example, he describes how people used to line up in front of the former director’s door, waiting to talk to her...
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