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’ve been my boss’s secretary for more than five years, even changing companies with him. He recently hired another secretary to help with my workload. The problem is that she shares all my responsibilities and seems to have most of the work. It feels as though she has become my replacement. How do I approach my boss about this without sounding like I’m whining?” — Feeling Useless

Question: “In my performance review, my boss included some negative comments from his own manager. Since I don’t agree with these remarks, I said so in the “Employee Comments” section of the appraisal form. I stood up for what I believe to be true, but now I wonder if I made a mistake.  What do you think?”  — Uncertain Employee
Question: “People at work seem to think I’m a flirt, but I don’t agree. My husband and I are happily married, and I’m just a naturally friendly person who likes people. However, I know that if others think I’m flirting, my opinion really doesn't matter. Do you have any advice?” — Friendly Gal
Question: “My husband, ‘Jerry,’ has become quite distressed. After five months as the acting manager of his group, he now has a new boss who is very different from his previous manager. She is slow to act on issues like resolving customer problems or filling open positions. He has tried to talk with her about this, but she is not a strong communicator. Employee morale is sinking, and Jerry feels responsible.  What can he do?” — Worried Wife
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
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