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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 deciding whether to change jobs. For a number of years, I have worked for a small local company. After looking for other opportunities, I have finally found a position that interests me. This job would provide a better compensation package and more career potential, but the downside is that I would have to travel 30% of the time. I'm hesitant about leaving my current job, but I also think a change might be healthy. My crystal ball just isn't working, so I would welcome any suggestions.”

Q: “I have become very disillusioned with my manager. ‘Brian’ and I worked well together as peers for several years, collaborating on a variety of successful projects, until a new CEO promoted me and demoted him. Recently, that CEO was replaced by a guy who worked with Brian twenty years ago. Now he has decided to make Brian my boss. Unfortunately, Brian has turned out to be an ineffective manager who doesn't want me to have any visibility. Some trusted colleagues have shown me emails in which he takes credit for my work. Brian praises me to my face, but apparently does not share these positive comments with higher-level executives. I'm starting to feel that leaving is my only choice. What's your advice?”

Q: “After working as a temporary administrative assistant for a small company, I was recently promoted to office manager. My boss said that she liked my professionalism. However, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve gotten in over my head. I’m being given unfamiliar tasks, no one ever explains anything, and I’m not sure exactly what my job includes. Now I’m constantly stressed out from worrying about whether management is unhappy with me.” - Afraid of Failing

Q: "I work as an office manager in a pleasant, stress-free environment. The pay is good, the schedule is flexible, and the staff is productive. Everyone gets along well. So what’s the problem? For the past two years, I have been bored out of my mind. I tried asking for additional responsibilities, but nothing ever happened. My friends say I have the perfect job, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. Any thoughts?"  Underutilized

Q: “When I asked about a raise several months ago, my manager said no money was available for pay increases. However, I was recently told in confidence that a newly hired co-worker has a much higher salary than mine, even though I am our department's top producer. How can I tactfully tell my manager that I am aware of this discrepancy without revealing my source to him?”

Q: “I am a happily married man in my mid-forties with three young children. During my career, I have built a successful business and accumulated enough wealth so that I have no worries about money. My problem is that I really don't know what motivates me anymore. None of the traditional types of motivators—like achievement, social interaction, or service to others—seem to apply to me. Can you help me figure out what I'm missing?”  Apathetic Business Owner

Q: “In my previous job, I gossiped, backstabbed and yelled at important people. I eventually realized that I was creating my own problems, but changing was difficult as long as I was in the same environment. After finding my present job three years ago, I worked hard to avoid conflicts, improve my behavior and become more politically astute. Unfortunately, however, one of my former colleagues has now joined our staff, and I'm afraid she will tell people about my past. Should I go to her and make amends or just wait and see what happens?” Reformed Jerk

Q: “Our micromanaging boss makes it difficult to accomplish our team goals. When we start a new project, she never discusses her expectations or her vision of the end result. She often shifts direction on a whim, leaving us feeling that we've done a lot of work for nothing. Do you have any suggestions?” Frustrated Team Member

Q: “My boss recently moved my desk so that I would be farther away from my co-worker, ‘Tamara.’ Tamara's annoying behavior causes me to react, and our conflicts have been getting progressively worse. I’m worried about my upcoming performance review, because I know I have not handled this situation well. Our boss recently said ‘this problem will be eliminated within the next month,’ so now I'm afraid that one of us may be terminated. What should I do?”

Q: “Six months ago, I started a contract job with a small software group. The lead developer is a control freak who has taken over some of the tasks listed in my contract. I talked with the lead developer about his attitude towards me, but nothing changed. Next, I went to the manager of our group and explained that this guy was taking part of my job. Now the lead developer is being given work that clearly should be mine, so I feel that management is siding with him. How do I keep them from reducing my responsibilities?”
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