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 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

Question: My problem is my mouth. I tend to say whatever is on my mind without thinking about the consequences. For example, I recently met with one of our top executives. When he asked my opinion of him, I replied, “At first I thought you were a snob, but now you seem OK.”  That was not a good answer. I also said too much in a meeting with my boss’s boss. After describing a problem with one co-worker, I went on to say that all the other women on my team have become less friendly and sometimes talk about me behind my back. I could tell that this was not well-received. Now I feel as though these managers are uncomfortable with me whenever I’m around them.  How can I stop myself from saying too much?” — Motormouth

Question: My problem is my mouth. I tend to say whatever is on my mind without thinking about the consequences. For example, I recently met with one of our top executives. When he asked my opinion of him, I replied, “At first I thought you were a snob, but now you seem OK.”  That was not a good answer. I also said too much in a meeting with my boss’s boss. After describing a problem with one co-worker, I went on to say that all the other women on my team have become less friendly and sometimes talk about me behind my back. I could tell that this was not well-received. Now I feel as though these managers are uncomfortable with me whenever I’m around them.  How can I stop myself from saying too much?” — Motormouth

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

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

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