Q: “A young man employed with our company has admitted to having a drinking problem. Although ‘Robbie’ performs his duties well and gets along with everyone, he has a lot of absences. My hope is that he can get himself straightened out, but he has apparently never sought treatment for his drinking. As his employer, is there anything I can do to help?” Supportive Boss
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.
Q: “I have a very responsible job as an administrative assistant in a medical center. However, my boss clearly feels that the clinical staff’s time is more important than mine. Although she preaches teamwork, she doesn't expect the medical people to replace copy paper or clean up after themselves. She often says 'Remember that if it weren’t for the medical staff, we would not have jobs.' This makes the rest of us feel unimportant. In this day and time, shouldn’t everyone be expected to do these tasks?” Unappreciated
Q: “One of my co-workers, ‘Bethany,’ has stopped talking to me. This happened after she asked about my relationship with another co-worker, ‘Ray.’ Bethany said, ‘You and Ray were bitter enemies, but now you’re best friends. What’s the story?’ I replied, ’Ray and I are now getting along fine because we’ve agreed to just focus on our work. That is all you need to know about this.’ Ever since that conversation, Bethany refuses to join me for lunch and even ducks into an office if she sees me coming. Whenever I ask what’s wrong, she says ‘Nothing.’ What should I do?” Private Person
Q: "My supervisor has created a 'good old girls' network in our office. Her favored employees are allowed to take long coffee breaks, make personal calls, spend time on the Internet, and run errands during office hours. The four outsiders are denied these privileges. Instead, we are given extra assignments and receive little help with our problems. Some outsiders want to take this issue to the human resources manager. Do you think he could help?"
Q: "I have a co-worker, 'Susie,' who wears tiny little t-shirts and has no problem showing off her assets to anyone who wants to look, which is embarrassing to the rest of us. After receiving several complaints, our manager spoke to Susie about her dress. She was surprised and told him that she wished people had talked to her directly. Although she improved for about a week, now she’s back to wearing her sexy outfits. How can we get Susie to dress more appropriately?"
Q: "I can’t decide whether to accept a recent job offer. I’ve had a lot of trouble communicating with the manager, who seems unable or unwilling to answer simple questions. Although the work sounds great, I would have to work a different schedule every day. The pay is also less than I deserve. I do have a backup job offer, but I don’t enjoy that type of work at all. What should I do?"
Q: “ ‘Carol,’ our administrative assistant, loves to tell our manager about my problems. Yesterday, for example, I was late for a client appointment because I got stuck in traffic. When I called Carol to say that I would arrive in about fifteen minutes, I assumed she would just explain the delay to the client. Instead, she decided to inform my boss, who blew it all out of proportion. Although my manager doesn't want to be bothered with these trivial issues, he still gets angry when he hears about them. How should I handle this?”
Q: "After my boss was dismissed for mismanagement of funds, I was promoted to fill his position. I now report to a brand new vice president who plans to reorganize our department. Because of the taint left by my previous manager, I’m worried about my place in this new landscape. I believe I have an important role to play, but I’m a behind-the-scenes type and have never been one to self-promote. My new boss is now having 'get acquainted' sessions with all of her direct reports. How should I approach this meeting?"
Question: “During a recent interview for a clerical position, I completely froze when I had to take a timed test of my typing speed. Tests always made me anxious in school, and this test brought back all those memories. When I got home, I called and left a message, explaining my anxiety problem to my interviewer and emphasizing my qualifications for the job. She never called back. How should I handle this problem?” Skittish About Testing
Question: “During my yearly performance review, my manager told me that I was disrespectful and unresponsive. When I didn’t respond to his comments, he went on a tirade. He said that he will not tolerate my lack of respect any longer and that if I don’t change my attitude, I will probably be laid off when we merge with another team. I told him I would rather have his comments included in my written review, but he refused. What should I do?” Worried