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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: “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

 Q: “My manager works a lot less than anyone else in our department. She arrives half an hour late every day and usually leaves early. On top of that, she schedules all her personal appointments on company time. Lately, she has begun ‘working from home,’ although no one else has this privilege. The rest of us are swamped with work, so her easy schedule hurts morale. Her boss has no idea what she’s doing, because his office is in another part of the building. How can we let him know about this?” Fed Up Employees

Q: “A young man employed with our company has admitted to having a drinking problem. Although ‘Robbie’ performs his duties well and gets along with everyone, he has a lot of absences. My hope is that he can get himself straightened out, but he has apparently never sought treatment for his drinking. As his employer, is there anything I can do to help?” Supportive Boss

Q: “I have a very responsible job as an administrative assistant in a medical center. However, my boss clearly feels that the clinical staff’s time is more important than mine. Although she preaches teamwork, she doesn't expect the medical people to replace copy paper or clean up after themselves. She often says 'Remember that if it weren’t for the medical staff, we would not have jobs.' This makes the rest of us feel unimportant. In this day and time, shouldn’t everyone be expected to do these tasks?” Unappreciated

Q: “One of my co-workers, ‘Bethany,’ has stopped talking to me. This happened after she asked about my relationship with another co-worker, ‘Ray.’ Bethany said, ‘You and Ray were bitter enemies, but now you’re best friends. What’s the story?’ I replied, ’Ray and I are now getting along fine because we’ve agreed to just focus on our work. That is all you need to know about this.’ Ever since that conversation, Bethany refuses to join me for lunch and even ducks into an office if she sees me coming. Whenever I ask what’s wrong, she says ‘Nothing.’ What should I do?”  Private Person

Q: "My supervisor has created a 'good old girls' network in our office. Her favored employees are allowed to take long coffee breaks, make personal calls, spend time on the Internet, and run errands during office hours. The four outsiders are denied these privileges. Instead, we are given extra assignments and receive little help with our problems. Some outsiders want to take this issue to the human resources manager. Do you think he could help?"

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