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: "One of my employees, 'Katrina,' has some performance issues which I am trying to resolve. However, some of her co-workers have apparently decided to collect their own 'evidence' against her. They record Katrina’s arrival and departure times, track how often she leaves her desk, and scrutinize her emails for grammatical errors. My boss and I want to stop this harassment, but our human resources manager supports the perpetrators and says they are being helpful. What should we do?” Powerless Supervisor

Q: “My co-workers seem to despise me because I have a strong work ethic. When I took this job six months ago, I joined a team of three other people who have all been with the company at least six years. I love what I do, so I work a lot of overtime. Now I’m in a pickle because my co-workers don’t appreciate the ‘new kid on the block’ working extra hours, and exceeding our goals. Unfortunately, my boss seems to agree with my team members, so I can’t go to her for help. What should I do?” Superstar

Q: “I’m planning to enroll in an MBA program that allows me to continue working while attending school. After putting so much time and money into my education, I would hope for some sort of financial reward, but my company does not give pay increases for master’s degrees. I would be willing to change jobs or relocate if it meant that my degree would be recognized. How beneficial is an MBA?” Working Student

Q: “After working as a temporary administrative assistant for a small company, I was recently promoted to office manager. My boss said that she liked my professionalism. However, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve gotten in over my head. I’m being given unfamiliar tasks, no one ever explains anything, and I’m not sure exactly what my job includes. Now I’m constantly stressed out from worrying about whether management is unhappy with me.” Afraid of Failing

Q: “My wife is a nanny who works for a married couple. She recently told me that the husband, who is a doctor, has been making sexually inappropriate remarks to her. I called the doctor’s wife and told her about the situation, but nothing has changed. Although this seems like harassment, I’ve been told there’s nothing I can do about it. This guy apparently thinks he’s untouchable, but he needs to be stopped before he harasses someone else.” Furious Husband

Q: “My parents and I disagree about how I should follow up on job applications. They feel that after I have sent in a résumé, I should call the company and request an interview. I’ve tried to explain that employers don’t want phone calls, and verbal communication isn’t required in the age of technology. However, based on their years of work experience, my parents insist that personal contact is the best way to stand out from the crowd. Who is correct?” Son Against Parents

Q: “Our CEO has always distributed employee bonuses in group meetings. He gives the top performers an envelope containing a thank-you letter and a check. We have sixteen employees, but usually only one or two get an envelope. Most of those who are eligible for bonuses report to me, and the recipients have told me that being rewarded in front of their peers makes them uncomfortable. My personal opinion is that publicly handing out checks seems rather juvenile, so I believe these bonuses should be given in private. What do you think?” Middle Manager

Q: “My husband and I want to move from Wisconsin to either Florida or Texas. I’ve been responding to online job ads, indicating that I will pay my own relocation expenses. Despite my twenty years of experience, I have not even had a nibble. Do you think out-of-state applicants are taken seriously?” Ready to Move

Q: “When I started this job, my boss asked for my cellphone number in case of an emergency. After awhile, he began sending text messages that had nothing to do with work. Even though this seemed unprofessional, I answered to avoid offending him. Recently, I discovered that my inbox was full, and almost all the messages were from him. This has become really annoying, so I’d like to put a stop to it. What should I do?” Besieged

Q: “Our human resources manager recently said I should consider seeing a therapist because I might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Last year was difficult because my husband lost his job, then was diagnosed with cancer. I was appalled by her suggestion and told her that she was completely out of line. A few weeks later, she emailed me to say that she felt we did not finish our conversation and was open to talking if I was interested. I did not reply, and now she will barely acknowledge me. I really don’t care, but it’s somewhat awkward because we work in a small company.” Insulted

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