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: "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

Question: What kind of touching is considered “inappropriate” at work? I don’t mean sexual contact, but simply an occasional pat on the arm or a hand on someone’s back. One of our managers, who is naturally gregarious, received a formal complaint about this kind of touching. The complaining person never said before that she was offended, so how was he to know? My own management style has been described as warm and “touchy-feely.” Should I start being more careful? -- Concerned

Question: What kind of touching is considered “inappropriate” at work? I don’t mean sexual contact, but simply an occasional pat on the arm or a hand on someone’s back. One of our managers, who is naturally gregarious, received a formal complaint about this kind of touching. The complaining person never said before that she was offended, so how was he to know? My own management style has been described as warm and “touchy-feely.” Should I start being more careful? -- Concerned

Q: “Our new CEO is very vindictive. He has ‘spies’ who feed him stories about employees that he doesn’t like. He fires people based on fabricated information, then displays his power by having security accompany them off the premises. I recently met with him to explain how this is hurting the business. I had data to prove that customer satisfaction and employee turnover have gotten worse since he arrived. But the CEO placed me on final warning for insubordination. For the next year, I can be immediately terminated for any additional offense. How do I establish a safe relationship with this man? — A Dedicated Manager

Q: “Our new CEO is very vindictive. He has ‘spies’ who feed him stories about employees that he doesn’t like. He fires people based on fabricated information, then displays his power by having security accompany them off the premises. I recently met with him to explain how this is hurting the business. I had data to prove that customer satisfaction and employee turnover have gotten worse since he arrived. But the CEO placed me on final warning for insubordination. For the next year, I can be immediately terminated for any additional offense. How do I establish a safe relationship with this man? — A Dedicated Manager

You dread going to work. The problem isn’t your job, which you love. And you’re blessed with a great staff. But your boss makes you miserable. Here’s how to fight off intimidation and get support when you need it most ...

You dread going to work. The problem isn’t your job, which you love. And you’re blessed with a great staff. But your boss makes you miserable. Here’s how to fight off intimidation and get support when you need it most ...

Question: “I manage the gift shop at a beautiful, historic winery. Although this is a wonderful place to work, we do encounter customers with a variety of challenging personalities. I have several employees who complain about how stupid customers are and what dumb questions they ask. Since we don't work in a bubble, I'm sure customers sometimes overhear these comments. I’ve tried asking everyone to be more positive, but negativity spreads like a disease. How do I stop this catty chatter?” — Frustrated in Wisconsin

Question: “I manage the gift shop at a beautiful, historic winery. Although this is a wonderful place to work, we do encounter customers with a variety of challenging personalities. I have several employees who complain about how stupid customers are and what dumb questions they ask. Since we don't work in a bubble, I'm sure customers sometimes overhear these comments. I’ve tried asking everyone to be more positive, but negativity spreads like a disease. How do I stop this catty chatter?” — Frustrated in Wisconsin

Question: I can’t seem to get promoted, even though I am well-qualified. My performance evaluations are excellent, and I have received numerous awards. The company posts promotional opportunities so that anyone can apply, but the “winning” applicant always seems to have been selected in advance. Obviously, politics plays a great part in these selections, and I am not a political person. I do interact with people, but I just don’t do it with an agenda in mind. How can I get ahead? —  No Way Out

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