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: “I am an administrative assistant to my manager, who is constantly coming to me with questions and little tasks. These interruptions make it hard to concentrate on my work. When she asks me to phone someone or find something for her, I lose my focus. How can I get her to stop bothering me?” Annoyed

Q: “I feel that I have been betrayed by one of my peers. ‘Chuck’ and I are both senior vice-presidents, reporting to the president of our company. In a recent executive team meeting, Chuck stated that an employee in my department has been intercepting and reading the president’s email for several months. Chuck has apparently known this for some time, but instead of telling me privately, he chose to throw me under the bus by revealing it in front of our boss. After this humiliating betrayal, I’m not sure how to act around Chuck. Should I just speak to him when we have to work together and ignore him the rest of the time?” Infuriated

Q: "After ten years in my job, I was called into my boss’s office and informed that I was being fired. He said they were “no longer confident in my ability to complete the project.” This came as a total surprise, because I had always received positive performance reviews. I can’t understand how my employer could be so heartless. Shouldn’t they have told me what I was doing wrong and given me a chance to improve? Do I have any legal recourse?"  Blindsided

Q: “Our boss frequently requests contributions for a charitable group that she supports. Is this acceptable management behavior?” Feeling Harassed

Q: “I recently became friends with one of my employees, and we started doing things together outside the office. Before long, ‘John’ began to slack off and pay less attention to his work. When I wrote him up for poor performance, he became very rude. Now John completely ignores my authority and even shares confidential information about me with others. I feel as though I have to walk on egg shells around him. How can I fix this?” Discouraged Supervisor

Q: “Do you think it would be okay to send a complimentary email about my boss to her manager? Or would that just look as though I’m ‘sucking up’?” Grateful

Q: “After working as an administrative assistant in human resources for fifteen years, I recently transferred into the finance department. The two co-workers assigned to do my training have completely ignored me. The vice president’s executive assistant makes negative remarks about everyone and has an inflated sense of her own importance. These women seem to enjoy making others feel bad, and I believe they are threatened by my knowledge and experience. How should I handle this?” Unwelcome Employee

Q: “After working as an administrative assistant in human resources for fifteen years, I recently transferred into the finance department. The two co-workers assigned to do my training have completely ignored me. The vice president’s executive assistant makes negative remarks about everyone and has an inflated sense of her own importance. These women seem to enjoy making others feel bad, and I believe they are threatened by my knowledge and experience. How should I handle this?” Unwelcome Employee

Q: “My manager and I are concerned about one of my long-term employees who has a very negative attitude. ‘Jerry’ has been here for more than twenty years, but has not been promoted because of his job performance. He sometimes lets his resentment about this come to the surface. We recently got a new department head, and Jerry is having trouble adjusting to the change in management style. He doesn’t seem to understand that his poor attitude is going to cause him problems with the new boss. What can we do to help him?” Worried Supervisor

Q: “I work with a woman who seems unwilling to learn anything on her own. About twelve months ago, ‘Tanya’ transferred back into our department after being gone for five years. Although we are now using completely different software, she refuses to take classes or consult the manual. Tanya constantly asks me to help her and often wants to copy my work. She shows no interest in the online training that I have suggested. Her endless requests are driving me crazy. What should I do?” Not a Teacher

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