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Your Office Coach

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 recently learned through the grapevine that an account manager who is assigned to work with me has said he would much rather work with someone else. Supposedly, he feels this other person is a lot more professional. Now my supervisor says that I’m being reassigned to a different group of accounts. If the account manager had problems with me, I wish he would have talked to me directly. I assume this means the writing is on the wall, so I have begun to look for other employment opportunities. I would like to leave gracefully, but I also want to tell someone what this individual said about me. Is that a good idea?"  Dazed & Confused
Q: “My co-workers seem to despise me because I have a strong work ethic. When I took this job six months ago, I joined a team of three other people who have all been with the company at least six years. I love what I do, so I work a lot of overtime. Now I’m in a pickle because my co-workers don’t appreciate the ‘new kid on the block’ working extra hours, and exceeding our goals. Unfortunately, my boss seems to agree with my team members, so I can’t go to her for help. What should I do?” Superstar
Question: My boss has a hard time keeping his feelings to himself. For example, he frequently tells us that he’ll probably be fired because management doesn’t like him.  He also says that senior management has doubts about the value of our department. Because of his paranoid comments, the staff is starting to feel resentful toward the company, and morale is declining rapidly. Personally, I’m very happy with both the company and my job, but my manager’s pessimistic attitude still drags me down. What can I do?  Bummed Out
Q: “I feel that I have been betrayed by one of my peers. ‘Chuck’ and I are both senior vice-presidents, reporting to the president of our company. In a recent executive team meeting, Chuck stated that an employee in my department has been intercepting and reading the president’s email for several months. Chuck has apparently known this for some time, but instead of telling me privately, he chose to throw me under the bus by revealing it in front of our boss. After this humiliating betrayal, I’m not sure how to act around Chuck. Should I just speak to him when we have to work together and ignore him the rest of the time?” Infuriated
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: "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: “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?”

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: “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: “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: "I would like to know how very brief jobs should be handled on a résumé. My most recent position was eliminated after I had been there only eight weeks. If I include it, employers may wonder why I left so quickly. But if I omit it, how do I explain why I left the preceding job?"

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

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