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 hate coming to work because of one obnoxious co-worker. ’Alan’ listens to our phone conversations and frequently interrupts with ‘corrections.’ He claims to have superior knowledge, yet he passes along sloppy work to the rest of us. We have to take Alan’s share of the calls, because he refuses to answer the phone unless our boss is around. Several of us have talked with our manager individually, but he doesn’t seem to understand the problem. Since he never sees this behavior, he thinks Alan is great. What can we do?” Seething

Q: “Recently, I helped to consolidate several production facilities from different states, which saved the company a great deal of money. When I asked if this might justify a pay increase, my boss replied that the project was considered to be part of my regular job. In fact, my ‘regular job’ is production manager for this facility, but over the years I have been asked to take on more tasks related to other functions and other properties. If I am routinely required to go above and beyond my job description, shouldn’t there be some financial reward?” Underpaid

Q: “One of my co-workers, ‘Ethan,’ has considerable clout with our manager. A few months ago, Ethan and I had a serious disagreement when he directed me to do a particular task. I chose not to complete the task, because I felt he did not have the authority to assign work to me. Ever since, my boss seldom talks to me and will openly correct me in meetings. I’ve also started getting undesirable assignments, undoubtedly due to Ethan’s influence. I am fed up with this situation. However, our business was recently acquired by a larger company, which will greatly expand the career options here. Should I stay or go?” Undecided

Q: “After starting a new job with a small business, I noticed that there seems to be a lot of sexism here. The older men treat the younger women terribly, and the older women do nothing to stop it. The older men constantly make me feel inadequate because I am just out of college. The company is very small, so we don’t have a human resources manager. What should I do?” Mistreated

Q: "I work as an office manager in a pleasant, stress-free environment. The pay is good, the schedule is flexible, and the staff is productive. Everyone gets along well. So what’s the problem? For the past two years, I have been bored out of my mind. I tried asking for additional responsibilities, but nothing ever happened. My friends say I have the perfect job, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. Any thoughts?"  Underutilized

Q: “I love being a supervisor, but it’s hard to be as tough as my superiors want me to be. I’m beginning to realize that to get things done, I need to be less of a friend and more of a boss. I know I have to demonstrate leadership, but I’m afraid this will turn me into an unlikeable person. After all, does anyone really like their boss?”  Nice Guy

Q: "My job is stressful and unrewarding, with little chance of advancement. Raises and promotions are given only to the chosen few. Management favors people who are outgoing, and I am an introvert. I am also twenty years older than most of my co-workers, so I don’t fit in well. I find myself complaining constantly, because I can’t seem to control my anger and unhappiness. I don’t like the person I have become, but I don’t know how to change. What can I do?" Miserable

Q: “My department manager has stopped sharing information with me. Even though I am older and more experienced, she ignores my suggestions and seems to want to control everything. This woman thinks she’s a good leader, but I’ve told her to her face that she’s a micromanager. I am finding it increasingly difficult to even sit in a meeting with her. How should I handle this problematic boss?” Unappreciated

Q: “I would like to transition from my current secretarial position to a job in our information technology department. I discussed this with my supervisor and today he sent me an email asking if I would like to begin by working on our computer help desk. I’m not sure what my supervisor's real motives are for making this suggestion. Most technicians view the help desk as an undesirable position. If I’m trained for the help desk, I may be stuck there forever. Am I being too suspicious?” Concerned

Q: “‘Megan’ has started dressing exactly like me and even went to my eye doctor to get the same glasses. She always duplicates my order at lunch and has items similar to mine on her desk. Last week, I happened to meet someone who is friends with Megan. This complete stranger knew a lot about me because Megan apparently talks about me all the time. Should I be worried?" Uneasy

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