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: “My husband and I want to move from Wisconsin to either Florida or Texas. I’ve been responding to online job ads, indicating that I will pay my own relocation expenses. Despite my twenty years of experience, I have not even had a nibble. Do you think out-of-state applicants are taken seriously?” Ready to Move

Q: “When I started this job, my boss asked for my cellphone number in case of an emergency. After awhile, he began sending text messages that had nothing to do with work. Even though this seemed unprofessional, I answered to avoid offending him. Recently, I discovered that my inbox was full, and almost all the messages were from him. This has become really annoying, so I’d like to put a stop to it. What should I do?” Besieged

Q: “Our human resources manager recently said I should consider seeing a therapist because I might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Last year was difficult because my husband lost his job, then was diagnosed with cancer. I was appalled by her suggestion and told her that she was completely out of line. A few weeks later, she emailed me to say that she felt we did not finish our conversation and was open to talking if I was interested. I did not reply, and now she will barely acknowledge me. I really don’t care, but it’s somewhat awkward because we work in a small company.” Insulted

Q: “After our former boss was promoted, his ‘favorite’ became our supervisor. Gina avoids chatting and doesn't even say good morning when she arrives. She just keeps her head down, walks straight to her desk and gets to work. If she does talk, she’s usually complaining about the other supervisors. I recently told my previous boss that I’m not optimistic about this management change. My former teammate cannot help me develop into the leader that I want to be. What should I do?” Discouraged

Q: “Instead of addressing me by name, our new director calls me ‘Princess.’ She also seems to enjoy aggravating me. When she walks by my desk, she will push my chair, rub the top of my head, or hit me with a stack of papers. I have tried not to react, since I figure that a reaction is exactly what she wants. My supervisor told her that I don’t like being called Princess, but this just seemed to make matters worse. I have been a model employee for twelve years, so I don’t understand why I’m being treated this way.” Not a Princess

Q: “Our staff was recently asked to attend a 'professional development' session put on by a comedy group. The topic was supposed to be communication. Much of the material was funny, but there were also lots of crude and offensive jokes. Although our work environment is not normally like this, management did nothing to stop the inappropriate comments. Do I have the right to walk out of a meeting where people are making objectionable remarks?” Disheartened

Q: “I have learned about some unethical behavior in the small community bank where I work. The CEO’s son was hired as a loan officer. He drives the bank car to lunch and takes it home every night. His secretary says he uses a bank credit card to fill up his truck and has even charged some personal items. This amounts to stealing from the bank, which is especially annoying because employees received no raise last year. I would like to report him to the Board of Directors, but my only evidence is what his secretary told me. I'm also afraid that I might jeopardize my job. What should I do?”

Q: “My manager is always receptive to new ideas, so I have never hesitated to make suggestions. However, I was surprised by his reaction to my latest proposal. After describing inefficiencies in our department, I presented some ways to correct them. These changes would have given me more responsibility and a higher-level position. My boss took offense and said that many of these responsibilities belong to him. I quickly backed off, saying that I was simply trying to help. Now I’m reluctant to propose any new ideas for fear of jamming my foot in my mouth again.” Burned Once

Q: “For the past few weeks, one of my co-workers has been watching me closely and finding fault with my work. She keeps telling me what to do, even though she’s not my supervisor. I actually have more experience than she does. Should I tell my manager about this? I don’t want him to think I’m complaining.” Jenny

Q: “I was recently promoted to manage a group of people who used to be my peers. Even though I was the team lead for a year, I’m finding it hard to supervise my former co-workers. As their manager, I feel that I am not being authoritative enough. How should I handle this?” Novice Boss

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