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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:  My boss’s boss, “Ellen,” frequently redirects my employees without informing me. She just tells them to disregard my assignments, then issues new instructions. Recently, Ellen asked a member of my staff to manage a major project, even though she knew I had already chosen someone else for that role. Previously, she had expressed no concerns about the person I selected. Every year, Ellen approves my annual goals, then switches things around and makes it impossible to accomplish them. My manager is no help because he’s very weak. Do you have any suggestions? — Bypassed

Question:  My boss’s boss, “Ellen,” frequently redirects my employees without informing me. She just tells them to disregard my assignments, then issues new instructions. Recently, Ellen asked a member of my staff to manage a major project, even though she knew I had already chosen someone else for that role. Previously, she had expressed no concerns about the person I selected. Every year, Ellen approves my annual goals, then switches things around and makes it impossible to accomplish them. My manager is no help because he’s very weak. Do you have any suggestions? — Bypassed

Question: “I have been fired from almost every job I have ever had. My friend says I’m just unlucky, because I seem to wind up in impossible situations that I can’t escape. I know that difficult people are everywhere, but I guess I haven’t learned how to properly navigate around the worst ones. I’ve tried the fight-back approach and the just-deal-with-it approach, but neither seems to work. Last time, I made a pre-emptive strike by complaining to human resources, but I still wound up on the losing end of the stick. I have been fired from five jobs in seven years. What would you recommend for someone like me?” — Nathan

Question: “I have been fired from almost every job I have ever had. My friend says I’m just unlucky, because I seem to wind up in impossible situations that I can’t escape. I know that difficult people are everywhere, but I guess I haven’t learned how to properly navigate around the worst ones. I’ve tried the fight-back approach and the just-deal-with-it approach, but neither seems to work. Last time, I made a pre-emptive strike by complaining to human resources, but I still wound up on the losing end of the stick. I have been fired from five jobs in seven years. What would you recommend for someone like me?” — Nathan

Question: Our HR manager recently told me that my bosses had complained about my coming in late.  I am a secretary to three attorneys in a large law firm. Since I frequently work after hours without overtime pay, I assumed that arriving late was no problem. When I apologized to the attorneys, they said the HR manager brought up the subject. The attorneys thanked me for working in the evenings.  I have told the HR manager that I don’t appreciate her misrepresenting the situation. I would like an unbiased third party to mediate this tardiness issue, but a friend says that bringing up overtime would create big problems. What should I do?”  Angry with HR

Question: Our HR manager recently told me that my bosses had complained about my coming in late.  I am a secretary to three attorneys in a large law firm. Since I frequently work after hours without overtime pay, I assumed that arriving late was no problem. When I apologized to the attorneys, they said the HR manager brought up the subject. The attorneys thanked me for working in the evenings.  I have told the HR manager that I don’t appreciate her misrepresenting the situation. I would like an unbiased third party to mediate this tardiness issue, but a friend says that bringing up overtime would create big problems. What should I do?”  Angry with HR

Question:  “I work for a manager who thinks I can read her mind. She will come rushing up to my desk and say something like, “Did he come pick it up?”  Because I have no idea what she’s talking about, I ask what she means. Then she looks at me like I’m an idiot for not understanding. This happens all the time, and I’m starting to get really irritated. How do I deal with her weird communication pattern?” —  Not a Mind Reader

Question:  “I work for a manager who thinks I can read her mind. She will come rushing up to my desk and say something like, “Did he come pick it up?”  Because I have no idea what she’s talking about, I ask what she means. Then she looks at me like I’m an idiot for not understanding. This happens all the time, and I’m starting to get really irritated. How do I deal with her weird communication pattern?” —  Not a Mind Reader

Question:  My department recently moved to a new building. Initially, everyone received a printout showing where our offices would be located. However, our boss decided to reconfigure the office assignments based on job responsibilities. I was given an office that was originally designated for “Judy.”  Judy seems offended by this change. I think she blames me for the decision, even though I had nothing to do with it. Now I’m starting to feel guilty.  How can I fix this? — Not My Fault

Question:  My department recently moved to a new building. Initially, everyone received a printout showing where our offices would be located. However, our boss decided to reconfigure the office assignments based on job responsibilities. I was given an office that was originally designated for “Judy.”  Judy seems offended by this change. I think she blames me for the decision, even though I had nothing to do with it. Now I’m starting to feel guilty.  How can I fix this? — Not My Fault

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