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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After seeing the movie ‘Erin Brockovich,” you think, “I supervise someone like her.”  Here’s how to manage flashy free-spirits:

Question: "How do you deal with someone who uses her looks to climb the corporate ladder? This person came into our company with no skills, but she is extremely attractive. She keeps getting promoted to the next level and is never in a job long enough to learn anything. How do the rest of us handle this?" — Just Average
Question: "My new boss wants me to hire someone from his former company whom he highly recommends. When I interviewed the guy, I thought he was reasonably good but not outstanding. I don’t think he’s the best choice, but I’m not sure how to say this to my boss." — Feeling Trapped
Question: "I supervise a group of women who are simply supposed to sit and enter data. No matter what I do, several of them talk nonstop, which disturbs some of their co-workers. How do you get grown women to just work quietly?"  Frustrated Supervisor
Question: “I work with a co-worker who is in a high-anxiety crisis mode every day. All conversations are about her personal problems. Even though I’m not the manager, people often come to me to complain about her. They seem to expect me to do something. How do we keep this woman from driving us crazy?” — Not Her Therapist
Question: “Is it possible to get ahead without working 60-plus hours every week and constantly sucking up to executives? This seems to be the norm at my company, and it’s very frustrating.”  —Unhappy Gen-X'er
Question: “What do you do about a co-worker who never completes anything on time? I’m an administrative assistant, and one person who reports to my boss is always late with his paperwork.  His expense accounts are now three months overdue. Our manager is very unhappy about this, but I don’t think she has said anything to him. I constantly remind him about deadlines, but he usually ignores me. I’m ready to stop helping him and let him hang himself. What should I do?” — Tired of Nagging
Question: “I have applied for many jobs, but no one calls me for an interview. I have 10 years’ experience and my résumé has been professionally written, but I’m not getting any bites. What am I to do?” —Feeling Hopeless
Question: "For eight years, I received 'outstanding' performance reviews. Two months ago, I got a new boss who doesn't seem to like me. When she did my annual evaluation, I got low ratings with no suggestions for improvement. Now I have no idea what to do. Before I had this boss, I really enjoyed this job." — Not Appreciated
Question: "I work in a very small office with my boss, his wife and two administrative assistants.  As the office manager, I supervise the assistants, but they always take their questions or concerns to the boss’s wife. Recently, when one of them complained about a task that I gave her, the boss’s wife told me to do the task instead. So how can I be considered their supervisor?” — Ignored
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