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: "After his company closed, my husband relocated to the West Coast. He is quite likely to land a permanent position in the next month or so. I plan to join him as soon as possible, but we need to sell our home before I can leave. I’ve been with my company for twenty years, and I’m not sure when to notify them of my pending departure. Business is bad, so they might lay me off if I tell them too soon. On the other hand, if I wait too long, there may not be time for me to train my replacement. What’s your advice?"  Moving On

Q: “When I pass certain senior managers in the hall, they walk right by me and avoid eye contact. Sometimes they exhibit aggressive body language, such as failing to adjust their walk path when approaching me. We’ve been introduced, so their lack of common courtesy seems strange. I’m not sure how to interpret their actions or how to react without seeming either too aloof or too forward. What do you think?” New & Ignored

Q: "After asking my boss for additional help, I was thrilled when he hired a young man in his early twenties. My excitement was short-lived, because 'Jeff' is both inexperienced and lazy. Even though I’m the office manager, Jeff reports directly to my boss. I have all the responsibility for his work, but no authority over him. I got tired of nagging and correcting his errors, so now I’m doing most of his work myself. After other employees began complaining, I finally mentioned Jeff’s behavior to my boss. However, he didn't believe a word I said. What do I do now?"  Sick of Jeff

Q: "Although my boss is the president of our company, she is very disorganized. She will drop whatever she is doing to take calls from family, friends, or even a handyman working in her home. She will abruptly leave a meeting if she suddenly remembers an errand. She often pulls me into her office to talk about the latest crisis in her life. I’m her executive assistant, and this is a small company, so transferring elsewhere is not an option. I know she isn’t going to change, so should I just leave?" Burned Out

Q: "I have a co-worker who is very moody. Whenever I ask about one of her projects or suggest a way to do things more efficiently, 'Andrea' gets snippy and starts muttering under her breath. If I ask what’s wrong, she replies, 'Nothing,' then has a bad attitude for at least an hour. How can I confront her about her attitude problem?"  Aggravated Co-worker

Q: “I’m having trouble adjusting to my new job as the office manager for a small business. My biggest problem is that one of the owners, ‘Emily,’ behaves very erratically. I got this job because Emily and I have been friends for more than seven years. We have often shared personal problems and helped each other as neighbors. Our relationship is more important to me than this position. I would like to help Emily overcome her emotional instability, because it is making my job much more difficult. What do you advise?”  Emily’s Friend

Q: "I recently replaced a manager who held this job for seven years. Since the employees are obviously accustomed to his style, I want to make it clear that they have a new boss with a new way of doing things. Another manager told me that he changed his staff’s seating arrangement on his very first day. Do you think that would help send the message?"  Making Waves

Q: “My manager suggested several times that I should not leave my purse on my desk, because it could easily be stolen. Last week, my purse went missing. I asked my manager if she took it, but she said no. I cancelled my credit cards and called the police to file a report. At that point, my boss admitted taking the purse off my desk. She feels she had every right to do this in order to prove her point. I have considered filing theft charges if my manager isn’t held accountable. What do you think?” Victimized Employee

Q: “Ever since I was promoted, one of my former co-workers has refused to acknowledge that I am now her supervisor. Because she is friendly with my boss, ‘Anna’ takes all her questions and concerns to him instead of me. This power struggle has been going on for two years. I’m so disgusted with Anna that I have a hard time controlling my temper. At the same time, I’m acutely aware that my inability to work with Anna has cast me in an unfavorable light with management. How do I solve this problem?” Tired of Fighting

Q: “The owner of our business is an extreme micromanager. Every decision, no matter how small, must be made by him. After four years of this, I’ve concluded that I will never be happy here. There will never be any opportunities for professional growth or creativity. The obvious solution is to leave, but finding another job may be difficult. Do you think I should stay or go?” Undecided

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