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: “Whenever one of my employees, ‘Gina,’ has personal problems, she describes them to everyone in excruciating detail. Then she calls her friends on the phone to talk about them some more. Gina does a good job, but these conversations take up a lot of time. How can I put a stop to this without seeming hard-hearted?” Caring & Concerned

Q: “A few months ago, I became the first human resources director at a private club, the only woman on the management team. I have run into difficulties with several of my male colleagues. They are accustomed to doing whatever they please, so when I try to give them sound legal advice, they take it personally and challenge my reasoning. Even though I am legally correct, they obviously resent my authority and have begun making snide remarks about me and my department. We now have a new general manager. I would like to alert him to what’s going on, but I don’t want to seem like a tattletale.” Fed Up

Q:  "My manager, 'Chad,' is very approachable. Earlier this week, a co-worker and I decided to clean up our rather cluttered office area. We left three boxes of trash neatly stacked next to the wastebasket. The department looked much more professional, so we expected Chad to be pleased. Instead, he sent a nasty email saying that the maintenance staff is not paid to clean up after us. I replied that we would remove the boxes and 'would have done it even without your crappy email.' Later that day, Chad came into my office and angrily exclaimed that this was not an appropriate comment to make to one’s manager. I apologized, but would like to discuss the matter further. However, I’m not sure what to say." Concerned

Q: “I have frequently been told that one of my employees extends her lunch hour whenever I am out of the office. If I question her, she acts insulted and says that the timecard is correct. Her co-workers are starting to become resentful, but since I’m not here to witness these absences, I don’t know how to solve the problem.” Stumped Supervisor

Q: “Some members of my staff have told me that people think I’m mean. One of them accused me of never even having a direct conversation with her. Another one said that employees gossip about me every day. I believe that instead of listening to rumors and hearsay, these people should develop their own opinions about me. What do you think?” Puzzled Manager

Q: "Training is the big thing in our organization this year, and I want to be a part of it. The director of training has encouraged me to transfer, but my boss, who is the head of operations, does not like the idea. I am the operations manager for our largest office, so he doesn’t want to lose me. My boss can’t block this move, but I don’t want to leave with hard feelings. What should I do?" Ready for a Change

Q: “I hate coming to work because of one obnoxious co-worker. ’Alan’ listens to our phone conversations and frequently interrupts with ‘corrections.’ He claims to have superior knowledge, yet he passes along sloppy work to the rest of us. We have to take Alan’s share of the calls, because he refuses to answer the phone unless our boss is around. Several of us have talked with our manager individually, but he doesn’t seem to understand the problem. Since he never sees this behavior, he thinks Alan is great. What can we do?” Seething

Q: “Recently, I helped to consolidate several production facilities from different states, which saved the company a great deal of money. When I asked if this might justify a pay increase, my boss replied that the project was considered to be part of my regular job. In fact, my ‘regular job’ is production manager for this facility, but over the years I have been asked to take on more tasks related to other functions and other properties. If I am routinely required to go above and beyond my job description, shouldn’t there be some financial reward?” Underpaid

Q: “One of my co-workers, ‘Ethan,’ has considerable clout with our manager. A few months ago, Ethan and I had a serious disagreement when he directed me to do a particular task. I chose not to complete the task, because I felt he did not have the authority to assign work to me. Ever since, my boss seldom talks to me and will openly correct me in meetings. I’ve also started getting undesirable assignments, undoubtedly due to Ethan’s influence. I am fed up with this situation. However, our business was recently acquired by a larger company, which will greatly expand the career options here. Should I stay or go?” Undecided

Q: “After starting a new job with a small business, I noticed that there seems to be a lot of sexism here. The older men treat the younger women terribly, and the older women do nothing to stop it. The older men constantly make me feel inadequate because I am just out of college. The company is very small, so we don’t have a human resources manager. What should I do?” Mistreated

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