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 recently lost my management position during a reorganization. I was told that my job was being eliminated and that I would be transferred to another department. Eventually I would like to return to a leadership role. When I discussed this with my new boss, he said that once you are placed in a lower-level job, you never get back to your original level. What should I do now?” Feeling Hopeless

Q: "The owner of our company flies into uncontrollable rages. We never know when something completely trivial will set him off. Nothing we do is ever enough, and no one dares to disagree with him about anything. His wife also works here, but she never confronts him about his temper. I actually think she’s afraid of him. How do we handle this situation?" Browbeaten Employee

Q: "My boss has been giving me verbal warnings unrelated to my work. For example, a co-worker interrupted my lunch when I was having a bad day. I got snippy with her and told her to go away and leave me alone. After she complained, my boss gave me a warning. Another time, my boss changed a policy that affected my job. I got mad and told him not to make any more changes without talking to me first. He said I should not have gotten so upset. These personality issues have nothing to do with my job performance. I plan to take this issue to human resources, but how do I keep from sounding petty?"  Offended

Q: "After his company closed, my husband relocated to the West Coast. He is quite likely to land a permanent position in the next month or so. I plan to join him as soon as possible, but we need to sell our home before I can leave. I’ve been with my company for twenty years, and I’m not sure when to notify them of my pending departure. Business is bad, so they might lay me off if I tell them too soon. On the other hand, if I wait too long, there may not be time for me to train my replacement. What’s your advice?"  Moving On

Q: “When I pass certain senior managers in the hall, they walk right by me and avoid eye contact. Sometimes they exhibit aggressive body language, such as failing to adjust their walk path when approaching me. We’ve been introduced, so their lack of common courtesy seems strange. I’m not sure how to interpret their actions or how to react without seeming either too aloof or too forward. What do you think?” New & Ignored

Q: "After asking my boss for additional help, I was thrilled when he hired a young man in his early twenties. My excitement was short-lived, because 'Jeff' is both inexperienced and lazy. Even though I’m the office manager, Jeff reports directly to my boss. I have all the responsibility for his work, but no authority over him. I got tired of nagging and correcting his errors, so now I’m doing most of his work myself. After other employees began complaining, I finally mentioned Jeff’s behavior to my boss. However, he didn't believe a word I said. What do I do now?"  Sick of Jeff

Q: "Although my boss is the president of our company, she is very disorganized. She will drop whatever she is doing to take calls from family, friends, or even a handyman working in her home. She will abruptly leave a meeting if she suddenly remembers an errand. She often pulls me into her office to talk about the latest crisis in her life. I’m her executive assistant, and this is a small company, so transferring elsewhere is not an option. I know she isn’t going to change, so should I just leave?" Burned Out

Q: "I have a co-worker who is very moody. Whenever I ask about one of her projects or suggest a way to do things more efficiently, 'Andrea' gets snippy and starts muttering under her breath. If I ask what’s wrong, she replies, 'Nothing,' then has a bad attitude for at least an hour. How can I confront her about her attitude problem?"  Aggravated Co-worker

Q: “I’m having trouble adjusting to my new job as the office manager for a small business. My biggest problem is that one of the owners, ‘Emily,’ behaves very erratically. I got this job because Emily and I have been friends for more than seven years. We have often shared personal problems and helped each other as neighbors. Our relationship is more important to me than this position. I would like to help Emily overcome her emotional instability, because it is making my job much more difficult. What do you advise?”  Emily’s Friend

Q: "I recently replaced a manager who held this job for seven years. Since the employees are obviously accustomed to his style, I want to make it clear that they have a new boss with a new way of doing things. Another manager told me that he changed his staff’s seating arrangement on his very first day. Do you think that would help send the message?"  Making Waves

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