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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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Queston: “I want to know if I should tell my manager that I’m looking for another job.  For the past several months, our company’s business has been declining. Management recently slashed our pay, and one of my co-workers was laid off. It seems obvious that anyone in this situation would be exploring other options, but I’m not sure if I should bring it up. I've always been able to talk openly with my boss, but lately he acts like a different person.” — Uncertain

Question: “My manager asked me to take over a very difficult position for which I had no background or training. He has been pleased with my progress. However, a group of guys from another department seem determined to make me fail. They ignore my requests, withhold information and argue about everything. My male predecessor left because of their behavior, so my being a woman is not the only problem. I tried making peace by offering to help with their work, but that only made things worse. Apparently, they viewed my olive branch as a sign of surrender. Recently, my boss and their manager decided that all communication between us must go through the two of them. This worries me, because it looks like I can’t handle the situation. Any suggestions?” — Not One of the Guys

Question: “My manager asked me to take over a very difficult position for which I had no background or training. He has been pleased with my progress. However, a group of guys from another department seem determined to make me fail. They ignore my requests, withhold information and argue about everything. My male predecessor left because of their behavior, so my being a woman is not the only problem. I tried making peace by offering to help with their work, but that only made things worse. Apparently, they viewed my olive branch as a sign of surrender. Recently, my boss and their manager decided that all communication between us must go through the two of them. This worries me, because it looks like I can’t handle the situation. Any suggestions?” — Not One of the Guys


Question:  “My boss, “Debra,” has been a wonderful mentor. As a result of her mentoring skills, I was recently offered a job with another company at a 30% pay increase. I would like to repay her by doing some “reverse mentoring.” Debra oversees a department of 125 people, manages a $3 million budget and has an MBA. She is also one of the smartest people I know. However, top management here frequently fails to recognize excellence.

After 27 years with this company, Debra finally seems ready to move on. She has been asking me questions like “What else do you think I might be qualified for?”  How can I help her?” —Grateful to My Boss


Question:  “My boss, “Debra,” has been a wonderful mentor. As a result of her mentoring skills, I was recently offered a job with another company at a 30% pay increase. I would like to repay her by doing some “reverse mentoring.” Debra oversees a department of 125 people, manages a $3 million budget and has an MBA. She is also one of the smartest people I know. However, top management here frequently fails to recognize excellence.

After 27 years with this company, Debra finally seems ready to move on. She has been asking me questions like “What else do you think I might be qualified for?”  How can I help her?” —Grateful to My Boss

Experienced managers know how to separate emotions from the work at hand when dealing with employees. Rather than dwelling on an employee's negative personality traits, smart managers focus on tasks, projects and results. But in too many cases, managers simply turn away from their least favorite employees.

Picking protégés is like investing, say two psychology professors from the Naval Academy and Indiana University. You choose carefully because you have limited resources and want a decent return.

Question:  “Our appraisal system requires supervisors to schedule quarterly conferences with their employees, but my boss never does. On my annual performance review, he always lists the dates when our conferences should have happened, then asks me to sign it. I have never been comfortable falsifying this information, but I don't know what to do. Should I just suck it up and sign to keep my boss out of trouble? Or should I refuse and risk becoming the target of retaliation?” — Honest Employee

Question:  “Our appraisal system requires supervisors to schedule quarterly conferences with their employees, but my boss never does. On my annual performance review, he always lists the dates when our conferences should have happened, then asks me to sign it. I have never been comfortable falsifying this information, but I don't know what to do. Should I just suck it up and sign to keep my boss out of trouble? Or should I refuse and risk becoming the target of retaliation?” — Honest Employee

Question: "I feel that I have been misled by my manager. When I was taking college courses, she told me she would work on getting my pay increased after I received my degree.Now that I’ve graduated, she says our company apparently does not give raises based on degrees.  She also says that our vice president feels I don’t deserve a raise because of tardiness and because I missed some meetings with him.I recently started an MBA program, but I’m not sure management appreciates my efforts to advance my career. What do you think?" — Educated and Underpaid

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