Q: “Last week, one of my co-workers handed me my annual performance appraisal and said my boss wanted me to sign it. When I saw that he had given me a below-average rating, I felt really hurt. I told my co-worker that I would not sign the form because I did not understand the reasons for my rating. Apparently, my manager doesn’t think I’m important enough to spend five minutes explaining it to me. Do I have a right to be angry about this?” Offended
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.
Q: “The woman whose desk is next to mine is pals with our network administrator, who supposedly likes to read every email that comes into the company. I recently figured out that these two have been reading my personal email whenever I access my account at work. Even more alarming, they apparently tried to log in to my online banking. What can I do about this?” Harassed
Q: “I seem to be experiencing an increase in responsibility without any change in title or pay. I work for a large healthcare company which is headquartered in another state. In addition to myself, our office includes a part-time assistant and a newly-hired employee. Although the new employee and I have the same title, our boss has made me the lead person in the office. He expects me to coordinate communications and ensure that everything runs smoothly. We will soon be hiring another person, making me responsible for three employees. This would seem to warrant a promotion, but I’m not sure how to broach the subject.” Hesitant
Q: "My co-worker, ‘Angie,’ sent me a seething email saying that I talk about teamwork, but don’t act like a team player. This was a completely unexpected slam against me. I told our manager, and he spoke to Angie about it, but nothing else was done. Now, whenever I encounter Angie anywhere in the building, she immediately turns around and walks the other way. My boss says, ‘That’s just the way she is,’ but Angie doesn't seem to act like this with anyone else. She doesn’t have to like me, but we do have to work together, so I can’t take much more of this." Ignored
Q: “Two years ago, my immediate boss, with whom I had a great relationship, was forced to resign. Shortly thereafter, I had a serious conflict with a colleague who was extremely close to our department vice president. After that incident, my career went downhill, although I had previously received high performance ratings and a promotion. I began to look for another job, but the economy took a nosedive and my wife was diagnosed with cancer, so leaving was completely out of the question. Now my wife is well again, and the economy has improved. But after having my self-esteem pounded on a daily basis, I no longer feel confident that anyone will hire me. Can you offer any advice?” Hopeless
Q: “In my unit, I hold the position of union coordinator, which is a liaison between management and employees. One of my responsibilities is to talk with the supervisor about productivity, so in the past I have been candid about individual performance issues. I didn’t expect this information to be used against anyone. Recently, however, our supervisor gave some performance warnings that seem based on my comments. Now I feel trapped in the middle of a conflict between management and my co-workers. I don’t know whether I should remain neutral or take a side, so I’m afraid to say anything. Do you have any advice?” No-Win Situation
Q: “After working for five years as an executive assistant to my boss, I recently heard that he has been saying negative things about me to the managers who report to him. This puts me in a very awkward position, so I would like some advice about how to handle the situation.” Hurt & Offended
Q: "I supervise two dispatchers at our local 911 emergency center. Unfortunately, one of them won’t listen to anything I tell her. 'Donna' sometimes gives out incorrect directions, so I try to interrupt the call and correct her. She just ignores me and continues transmitting, which slows down the officers’ response.
"I have explained to Donna that I am only trying to ensure that we send help to the right address as quickly as possible. Although she says she understands, she continues to disregard my instructions.
"Donna doesn’t seem to care about her mistakes, so I don’t know what to do. I’ve talked to my manager, but he hasn’t been any help." Worried Supervisor
Q: “After working with my manager, ‘Julia,’ for eight years, I recently received my first negative performance appraisal. Julia plans to retire soon because she feels she has no future here. Our company was acquired two years ago, and the new management has a very different style. When I get a new boss, I’m afraid this appraisal will make a bad impression. What should I do?” Worried