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: “One of my employees constantly criticizes her colleagues for making ‘immoral’ life choices. Her judgmental remarks are creating a very uncomfortable atmosphere on our team. As a business owner, I feel I have a responsibility to keep people from being harassed this way. What should I do?” Troubled Manager

Q: “I have a co-worker who is running a Web-based business on company time. ‘Linn’ spends hours monitoring her website, taking orders, sending invoices and arranging for shipments. At the end of the day, she prints out her documents and takes them home. Our boss appears to be completely unaware of these activities. He occasionally asks other employees to help Linn out because she’s so busy. However, she’s just busy making money for herself. Is there anything I can do?” Outraged

Q: “A colleague and I recently started a business venture as equal partners. Whenever he wants something, 'Dave' insists on getting his own way and refuses to discuss other options. If I disagree with him, he becomes very moody. Now he would like to bring one of his radio buddies into the business, which I think would be a huge mistake. I have suggested alternate ways that we might work with this guy, but Dave won’t even consider other possibilities. These arguments are wearing me out, so I’m tempted to just disengage and start my own company. Is there any way to make this partnership work?” Ready to Quit

Q: “I feel fairly certain that I’m not being paid what I am worth. When I was hired by this start-up company, the salary offer seemed quite low for someone with a Master’s degree. I only accepted because asking for money makes me very uncomfortable. Now I feel even more underpaid because I have been given so many responsibilities. I can’t help resenting my minimal paycheck. How can I correct this?” Below Market

Q: “I am extremely organized and always plan my work carefully. I know exactly which tasks I must complete every day in order to meet my deadlines. The problem is that my boss constantly comes up with ad hoc requests and expects me to immediately drop whatever I’m doing to focus on his latest whim. Instead of rewarding this impulsive behavior, I usually put his requests aside until I can work them into my schedule. He doesn’t like this, so he has given me a bad performance review. I really can’t figure out how to work with him.” Hopeless

Q: “Lately, I have become short and snappy with my co-workers. I am the secretary for a medical group, and this job is very frustrating. I have to answer the phone, respond to patients, transmit doctors’ orders, look up information, run errands and answer stupid questions. I don’t want to be rude, but it’s getting harder to bite my tongue. How can I stop being so irritable?” Not a Grouch

Q: “My boss appears to be taking credit for a difficult project that I am working on, even though it does not involve him in any way. The vice president of our department recently sent out an email in which she congratulated both my manager and me on the project’s success and expressed appreciation for our hard work. However, he hasn’t worked on it at all. Now I wonder if he may be exaggerating his role. What should I do about this?” Unrecognized

Q: “Even though I am a top performer, my pay is low based on market comparisons. To be smart about my career, I believe that I should refuse to accept this mediocre salary. If I’m offered a standard 5% raise, how do I say, ‘Thanks, but I’m worth more than that. What can you do to bring my pay up to market level?’” Underpaid

Q: "One of my employees, 'Katrina,' has some performance issues which I am trying to resolve. However, some of her co-workers have apparently decided to collect their own 'evidence' against her. They record Katrina’s arrival and departure times, track how often she leaves her desk, and scrutinize her emails for grammatical errors. My boss and I want to stop this harassment, but our human resources manager supports the perpetrators and says they are being helpful. What should we do?” Powerless Supervisor

Q: “My co-workers seem to despise me because I have a strong work ethic. When I took this job six months ago, I joined a team of three other people who have all been with the company at least six years. I love what I do, so I work a lot of overtime. Now I’m in a pickle because my co-workers don’t appreciate the ‘new kid on the block’ working extra hours, and exceeding our goals. Unfortunately, my boss seems to agree with my team members, so I can’t go to her for help. What should I do?” Superstar

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