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 am absolutely miserable in my job, but it’s hard to look for work while I'm currently employed. The owner of this company is a horrible person who yells and insults her employees. She doesn’t like to give people time off, so I have trouble getting away for interviews. I recently lost a possible position because I couldn't make the interview. I’ve been here for three years. How do I get out?" — Trapped & Depressed
Question: “I recently learned that our newest employee, whom I have been training for a year, makes $15,000 more than I do. A colleague, who accidentally saw a confidential list of salaries in our department, told me. During my 10 years with this company, I always thought that I was one of the most valuable employees. Now I feel betrayed and am not sure how to deal with it.” —  Unappreciated
Question:  “I was a high achiever with no interpersonal skills. I really didn’t know how to talk to people. I was promoted to a management position, with several employees reporting to me. However, I was later demoted because I lacked “people skills.” Since then, I have had a major internal overhaul, and my attitude toward others is completely different. I would like to get my career back on track. Do you think I can change management’s perception of me or should I just move on to another company?” -- Changed for the Better
Question: “After my supervisor retired, I was promoted to fill his position. He had a special arrangement with one employee, “Kelly,” allowing her to come in early and leave early. However, no one ever knew exactly what time she arrived. When the owner promoted me, he said that I must put Kelly on the same schedule as everyone else. I’m not sure how to approach this employee about changing her hours. How can I fix this without losing her?” — Caught in the Middle
Question: “Our department has regular update meetings where all team members review their projects. When I’m presenting, my manager continually interrupts to add background information. I believe that I should be the one to provide any additional information about my work. How do I handle these annoying interruptions without offending my boss?” — Frustrated Speaker
Question: “I’ve had trouble getting along with every manager I’ve ever had. In my last job, it got so bad that I asked for a transfer, but now I’ve run into the same issues with my new boss. I’ve already written to Human Resources about my communication problems with her. How can I turn this situation around?” —  Discouraged
Question: “Last year, I made a sexual harassment complaint against my boss. He kept telling me to wear short skirts and asked if I had thong underwear. He offered to bring me wine and even showed up at my house. When I complained, the president said it was my fault because I wasn't firm enough when I told my boss to stop. He said we should forget about it and tell no one, because “nobody got hurt." Now my boss constantly follows me around the building, asks about my lunch plans and watches out the window when I leave. People have seen him going through my trash. This may not be harassment, but it’s annoying. What can I do until I find another job?” — Need Help
Question:  “Our CEO recently announced that the company is in dire straits, and major layoffs are coming. Top management has not communicated with the staff since the announcement. Morale is really low, employees are starting to accept their fate and very little is getting done. As a senior manager, what can I do to help my employees deal with this and prepare for the future?” — Concerned Executive
Question: "I don’t know how to handle an abusive boss. I work for the president and vice president of a small company. The President and I can discuss anything, but the VP is confrontational and rude.  He verbally abuses me when no one is around and becomes especially angry when deadlines are tight. I’ve been in abusive relationships in my personal life, so I don’t intend to condone this behavior.  However, I’m not sure exactly what to do." — Not a Doormat
Question: "How do you handle a co-worker who constantly uses foul language in a professional office?  I’ve hinted to her that I don’t like it, but that did no good. I talked with her boss and the human resources manager, but they seem to view me as a tattletale. Do I just have to learn to live with the four-letter words?" — Offended
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