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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: Every night, my husband “Scott” comes home talking about a co-worker who is driving him crazy.  Most of our after-work conversations now center on his latest problem with “Rachel.” Rachel is related to the company president, who apparently can’t see her true nature. Whenever Scott asks Rachel a question, she pointedly ignores him. She frequently instructs him to do things that he later learns he wasn’t supposed to do. She has even told people that Scott said things that he never said.  Rachel also avoids work and wastes time chatting with her friends.  She sometimes disappears completely. My husband loves his job and gets along with his other co-workers, but the Rachel problem seems to be getting worse. Please help.  Scott’s Wife.

Question: How should I handle a co-worker who will not respond to emails?  I often need her input when I have to make a decision. In the past, I would finally just walk over and ask her for the information.  However, I don’t think I should have to do this.  Tired of Waiting
Question:  For the past two years, our CEO flatly stated that no one in the organization would receive a pay increase due to the economic situation in our business.  Although we were disappointed, we appreciated the fact that everyone was being treated equally.  Recently, however, the head of my division announced that all of our managers are being made vice-presidents.  Their jobs will remain exactly the same, but the title change qualifies them for a pay increase.

This is clearly a ploy to get around the companywide salary freeze. All of the employees were stunned by this announcement.  Not only have we been denied raises, but our workload has also increased due to unfilled vacancies.  Management is constantly telling us to “do more with less.” Although we are thankful that we still have jobs, we can’t help feeling disgruntled and mistreated.  I have toyed with the idea of sending the CEO a letter telling him about this deception.  What do you think?  Irate Employee
Question: This is my first job after graduation, and I have already received a warning letter from my boss.  I work in a very small business, which is owned by a husband and wife. I am the only person who works in the office with them. To find out how I was doing, I recently requested a performance review. My boss praised me for being a hard worker and gave me several suggestions for improvement. Then he handed me a warning letter. I only asked for this meeting to get some feedback. I had no idea that I was doing anything wrong.  What can I do to avoid losing my job?
Question: How do I get my co-worker to stop annoying me? She is very self-centered, whiny and needy.  I have told her this and given her the cold shoulder, but she can't take a hint. I just want her to leave me alone. How can I make that happen without creating tension in the office?  Fed Up
Question: Two people in our small office consistently come in late, leave early, and take two hours for lunch.  As the human resources manager, I’ve told my boss that we need to put a stop to this, because other employees are starting to complain about unfair treatment. My boss gripes about this tardiness, but if I ask him to confront the employees, he always says “It won’t do any good” or “Maybe we should just get rid of them.”  His refusal to deal with performance issues is driving me crazy.  What can I do?  Frustrated HR Professional
Question: Several years ago, I filed a discrimination charge against my boss.  After the issue was resolved by the EEOC, she and I were able to repair our relationship.  However, she recently retired, and now I have a new manager. From day one, my new boss has treated me like a troublemaker, so I assume he was told about my discrimination complaint. Because I felt he was targeting me, I complained to the EEOC again. However, this time they didn’t do anything. The mistreatment continues, and so does my battle.  What can I do to have peace in this job?  Sick of the Fight
Question:  I keep getting calls from my former employer about how to do my old job.  For 24 years, I was the “go-to girl” who held that company together. When the business was sold several months ago, I was let go along with many others.  

Now I feel that I am being used.  If they can’t figure out how to do my work, then they never should have fired me.  However, I may need a recommendation from this employer during my job search, so I’m not sure how to handle this.  Should I continue to answer their questions?
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
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