Q: “My boss, ‘Karen,’ feels the need to control absolutely everything. Ever since Karen promoted me last year, I have been so frustrated that I can hardly stand it. How can I work with this obsessive woman?”
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: “Ever since I came to work here a year ago, I have gotten nothing but attitude from the woman in the next cubicle. I keep trying to be nice to ‘Mandy,’ but she refuses to develop any kind of relationship with me. Sometimes she doesn't speak to me at all. Our supervisor told us that we needed to work on our communication problem, but that didn't help at all. This situation has me ready to explode, but I know that getting angry will only make me look bad. What should I do?”
Q: "For the past five years, I have suffered from depression. During that time, I have been on and off medication. However, I have never told my employer about this problem. During my recent performance review, I received a 'needs improvement' rating for the first time, which was very upsetting. Do you think I should tell my manager about my depression?"
Q: “Are applicants required to tell a potential future employer that they were terminated from their previous job? If so, how should this be done?”
Q: "My boyfriend, 'Doug,' was recently promoted, but he's having a lot of problems. He is now supervising his former boss, who is unhappy about being demoted. On top of that, the assistant manager applied for the job and resents the fact that Doug was selected. Their negative attitudes have spread to other employees, who are becoming insubordinate. Doug is expected to clean up this department, which is a complete mess. However, he has no management experience, and these toxic people seem to feel they can run all over him. He is feeling really stressed out. Do you have any advice?"
Q: “After twenty years in the same job, I recently had to look for work when our family moved to a different city. The problem is that I'm already having serious thoughts about quitting. I dread going to the office every day, because I feel totally out of my comfort zone. The work is very different from what I did before, and I'm beginning to doubt my abilities. Although I feel an obligation to fulfill my commitment here, I sometimes wonder if perhaps I should be totally honest with my boss and tell her that I need to leave. On the other hand, there are very few positions available in my field, and it took me a long time to find this one. I’m not sure what to do, because I just don't like this job.” Panicked
Q: “After working as an administrative assistant in human resources for fifteen years, I recently transferred into the finance department. The two co-workers assigned to do my training have completely ignored me. The vice president’s executive assistant makes negative remarks about everyone and has an inflated sense of her own importance. These women seem to enjoy making others feel bad, and I believe they are threatened by my knowledge and experience. How should I handle this?” Unwelcome Employee
Q: “I work with a woman who seems unwilling to learn anything on her own. About twelve months ago, ‘Tanya’ transferred back into our department after being gone for five years. Although we are now using completely different software, she refuses to take classes or consult the manual. Tanya constantly asks me to help her and often wants to copy my work. She shows no interest in the online training that I have suggested. Her endless requests are driving me crazy. What should I do?” Not a Teacher
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: “Recently, my supervisor abruptly terminated one of my co-workers in front of me and another employee. She then asked the two of us to give her written summaries of what we had witnessed. After reading our reports, she told us to rewrite them based on her version of events, which is basically a lie. Lying is against my principles, so this is totally stressing me out.” Honest Abe
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
Question: "A woman in our office complains constantly. A couple of us thought she might be depressed, so we suggested that she contact our employee assistance program. However, she didn’t like what the counselor said, so she won’t go back. Times are tough, and her chronic negativity makes everything more depressing. What should we do?" Tired of Listening
This is clearly a ploy to get around the companywide salary freeze. All of the employees were stunned by this announcement. Not only have we been denied raises, but our workload has also increased due to unfilled vacancies. Management is constantly telling us to “do more with less.” Although we are thankful that we still have jobs, we can’t help feeling disgruntled and mistreated. I have toyed with the idea of sending the CEO a letter telling him about this deception. What do you think? Irate Employee
Now I feel that I am being used. If they can’t figure out how to do my work, then they never should have fired me. However, I may need a recommendation from this employer during my job search, so I’m not sure how to handle this. Should I continue to answer their questions?