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.
Question: Two weeks after joining a small medical practice, I was directed by the senior physician to switch positions with a co-worker. My job involved filing medical records, while “Carol” managed the front desk. The senior physician switched us because several patients had complained that Carol was unfriendly. I was absolutely stunned and told the doctor that I did not feel prepared to handle the reception duties. Despite my concerns, he moved Carol to the back office. She was very upset. Now the environment has become tense and hostile, because Carol seems to feel that I’m responsible for this change. She has said that I should either do the job that I was hired for or leave. How can I fix this? Not My Fault
Question: My boss has a hard time keeping his feelings to himself. For example, he frequently tells us that he’ll probably be fired because management doesn’t like him. He also says that senior management has doubts about the value of our department. Because of his paranoid comments, the staff is starting to feel resentful toward the company, and morale is declining rapidly. Personally, I’m very happy with both the company and my job, but my manager’s pessimistic attitude still drags me down. What can I do? Bummed Out
Question: “I made the mistake of flirting with 'Jack,' a young man who recently joined our company. I am a middle-age, married woman, so this was silly. The flirtation only involved smiling and talking and joking around, but I soon realized the error of my ways and cooled things off. For the past three weeks, I have avoided Jack as much as possible. He works in a different department, but we do have to collaborate on a few projects. Unfortunately, he seems to be expressing his resentment in a bizarre and childish manner.
Question: “How do you deal with an office busybody? One of my co-workers simply must know everything about everyone. She constantly tries to get information about what we are doing or where we are going. This drives us all crazy, but we don’t know what to do. Please help!” No Privacy
Question: “A very young and inexperienced co-worker was recently promoted to general manager of our facility. This has been a difficult transition for everyone. As a department head, I unfortunately have to report to her. ‘Crystal’ is demeaning and condescending to her direct reports. She wants to know every little detail of our work, yet when we call with questions, she gets mad and says “I can’t believe you bothered me with that.” She also has a habit of talking to one department head about another. Crystal and I used to be friends, but that ended when she tried to cover herself by falsely blaming me for a problem. Although I have invested eight years in this company, I’m not sure that I can continue working for someone whom I neither trust nor respect. Going to the owner will do no good, because he is not receptive to feedback. What would you advise?” K.C.
Question: “I used to be one of those high performers with no interpersonal skills. After I was promoted to a supervisory position, management decided that I had difficulty communicating with employees. Because of this perception, I was un-promoted. Since then, I have had a major internal overhaul that has given me a completely different attitude. Is it possible to change management’s negative opinion, or should I just take what I’ve learned and move on?” Seen the Light
Question: “I am upset and frustrated by the favoritism in my company. Some managers make employees follow the rules, while they allow people in other departments to be very disruptive. They sing, shout, chatter constantly, use foul language and dress inappropriately. During my 12 years here, I have always enjoyed my job and received good performance reviews. The pay is excellent, and I get along well with management. If I start over somewhere else, I will lose seniority and vacation time. However, this unfairness keeps me feeling emotionally drained, and sometimes I think I should just leave.” Distressed
Question: “When employers conduct background checks, what happens to applicants with a poor credit rating? After I lost my health insurance, I fell on hard times due to extensive medical bills. Now I’m on the verge of bankruptcy. I’m not applying for jobs that require me to handle cash or deal with financial records, but I still worry that poor credit may hurt my chances. Should I tell interviewers about this issue before they check my background?” Worried
Question: “I was recently hired to supervise two women who don’t seem to do much work. One does crossword puzzles and word search games all day. The other manages to look busy, but is actually surfing the Internet most of the time. I would like to improve this situation, but I’m not sure what to do. I have no training in management, and my boss has an “I don’t care” attitude because she’s leaving in a couple of weeks. Her replacement has already been selected. Should I wait until he starts before I talk to the employees?” Need Help
Question: After being promoted to human resources manager, I discovered that I have been assigned to the most toxic division in our agency. The employees here constantly gossip, backbite and complain. I’ve heard that this is why the last HR manager left. I would love to play a major role in “cleaning up” this group, but I have to move carefully. Some of these people have been here more than 15 years and are protected by civil service regulations. Any suggestions? HR Crusader