Your Office Coach — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Page 11
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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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Question: “I wonder if my boss is indirectly encouraging me to leave. He gave me only an average performance rating this year, despite the fact that I met all of my goals and take great pride in my work. In my opinion, I clearly exceeded expectations. Many completely undeserving people received higher ratings, because they are in my boss’s “circle of friends”. My career will go nowhere unless I become part of this group, which I have no desire to do.  Although I enjoy my job, I have no faith in my manager. I would hate to lose my benefits, but maybe it’s time to move on.” John
Question: Two weeks after joining a small medical practice, I was directed by the senior physician to switch positions with a co-worker. My job involved filing medical records, while “Carol” managed the front desk. The senior physician switched us because several patients had complained that Carol was unfriendly. I was absolutely stunned and told the doctor that I did not feel prepared to handle the reception duties. Despite my concerns, he moved Carol to the back office. She was very upset. Now the environment has become tense and hostile, because Carol seems to feel that I’m responsible for this change. She has said that I should either do the job that I was hired for or leave.  How can I fix this?  Not My Fault
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
Question: “I made the mistake of flirting with 'Jack,' a young man who recently joined our company. I am a middle-age, married woman, so this was silly. The flirtation only involved smiling and talking and joking around, but I soon realized the error of my ways and cooled things off. For the past three weeks, I have avoided Jack as much as possible. He works in a different department, but we do have to collaborate on a few projects. Unfortunately, he seems to be expressing his resentment in a bizarre and childish manner.
Question: “How do you deal with an office busybody?  One of my co-workers simply must know everything about everyone.  She constantly tries to get information about what we are doing or where we are going.  This drives us all crazy, but we don’t know what to do.  Please help!”  No Privacy
Question: “A very young and inexperienced co-worker was recently promoted to general manager of our facility. This has been a difficult transition for everyone. As a department head, I unfortunately have to report to her.  ‘Crystal’ is demeaning and condescending to her direct reports. She wants to know every little detail of our work, yet when we call with questions, she gets mad and says “I can’t believe you bothered me with that.”  She also has a habit of talking to one department head about another. Crystal and I used to be friends, but that ended when she tried to cover herself by falsely blaming me for a problem.  Although I have invested eight years in this company, I’m not sure that I can continue working for someone whom I neither trust nor respect. Going to the owner will do no good, because he is not receptive to feedback.  What would you advise?”  K.C.
Question: “I used to be one of those high performers with no interpersonal skills. After I was promoted to a supervisory position, management decided that I had difficulty communicating with employees.  Because of this perception, I was un-promoted. Since then, I have had a major internal overhaul that has given me a completely different attitude.  Is it possible to change management’s negative opinion, or should I just take what I’ve learned and move on?”  Seen the Light
Question: “I am upset and frustrated by the favoritism in my company. Some managers make employees follow the rules, while they allow people in other departments to be very disruptive. They sing, shout, chatter constantly, use foul language and dress inappropriately.  During my 12 years here, I have always enjoyed my job and received good performance reviews. The pay is excellent, and I get along well with management.  If I start over somewhere else, I will lose seniority and vacation time.  However, this unfairness keeps me feeling emotionally drained, and sometimes I think I should just leave.”  Distressed
Question: “When employers conduct background checks, what happens to applicants with a poor credit rating?  After I lost my health insurance, I fell on hard times due to extensive medical bills.  Now I’m on the verge of bankruptcy. I’m not applying for jobs that require me to handle cash or deal with financial records, but I still worry that poor credit may hurt my chances.  Should I tell interviewers about this issue before they check my background?”  Worried
Question: “I was recently hired to supervise two women who don’t seem to do much work. One does crossword puzzles and word search games all day. The other manages to look busy, but is actually surfing the Internet most of the time. I would like to improve this situation, but I’m not sure what to do. I have no training in management, and my boss has an “I don’t care” attitude because she’s leaving in a couple of weeks. Her replacement has already been selected. Should I wait until he starts before I talk to the employees?”  Need Help
Question: After being promoted to human resources manager, I discovered that I have been assigned to the most toxic division in our agency. The employees here constantly gossip, backbite and complain. I’ve heard that this is why the last HR manager left. I would love to play a major role in “cleaning up” this group, but I have to move carefully.  Some of these people have been here more than 15 years and are protected by civil service regulations.  Any suggestions?  HR Crusader
Question: After being promoted to human resources manager, I discovered that I have been assigned to the most toxic division in our agency. The employees here constantly gossip, backbite and complain. I’ve heard that this is why the last HR manager left. I would love to play a major role in “cleaning up” this group, but I have to move carefully.  Some of these people have been here more than 15 years and are protected by civil service regulations.  Any suggestions? HR Crusader
Question: Management keeps ignoring my request for a raise. During a performance review two years ago, I provided documentation of my expanded responsibilities and asked for a pay increase. Although
my supervisor said she wasn’t sure if the job changes would justify a raise, she never clearly stated whether she supported my request or not. I sent her several follow-up emails, but got no response. Last
year, I was transferred to another department. I sent my new supervisor an email requesting an increase, but he never replied.  Recently, I sent another email expressing disappointment in the complete lack of feedback about my previous requests. Again, no answer. Apparently, management won’t even take the
time to officially reject my request.  This feels like a slap in the face.  How should I react?  Unacknowledged
Question: No one at work seems to like me. I usually keep to myself, because my co-workers never act very interested. When I do try to communicate with them, I get a lot of odd reactions that seem fake.  I’m sick of all these people who apparently feel they have no faults. Management talks about employees being “family,” but that’s a complete crock.  My co-workers never act as though they care about me, so why should I care about them?  After being stuck here for four years, sometimes I just want to give up.  And I’m tired.  Discouraged
Question: A year ago, I joined a small company as their first marketing director.  Unfortunately, the owner seems to view my role as more tactical and administrative than strategic.  He never includes me in planning meetings or strategy sessions. I assumed that building a marketing function from scratch would be a valuable learning experience that could strengthen my résumé, but so far I’m only doing routine tasks. How can I encourage my boss to involve me at a higher level?  Left Out
Question: “What can be done about a co-worker who likes to play practical jokes?  He thinks it’s funny to create fictitious emails with rude comments, and then send them out under someone else’s name. He has even faxed unprofessional messages to customers as though they came from another employee.  When we confronted this guy, he denied everything, but we know he’s the guilty party. He seems to delight in creating chaos and conflict.  How do we put a stop to this?" Not Smiling
Question: Because of my hour-long commute, I would like to ask my boss for a more flexible work schedule. By working longer hours four days a week, I could eliminate one day of driving. I know that some of my co-workers would also welcome this arrangement. How should I approach my boss about this idea?  Tired of Driving
Question: Every night, my husband “Scott” comes home talking about a co-worker who is driving him crazy.  Most of our after-work conversations now center on his latest problem with “Rachel.” Rachel is related to the company president, who apparently can’t see her true nature. Whenever Scott asks Rachel a question, she pointedly ignores him. She frequently instructs him to do things that he later learns he wasn’t supposed to do. She has even told people that Scott said things that he never said.  Rachel also avoids work and wastes time chatting with her friends.  She sometimes disappears completely. My husband loves his job and gets along with his other co-workers, but the Rachel problem seems to be getting worse. Please help.  Scott’s Wife.

Question: How should I handle a co-worker who will not respond to emails?  I often need her input when I have to make a decision. In the past, I would finally just walk over and ask her for the information.  However, I don’t think I should have to do this.  Tired of Waiting
Question:  For the past two years, our CEO flatly stated that no one in the organization would receive a pay increase due to the economic situation in our business.  Although we were disappointed, we appreciated the fact that everyone was being treated equally.  Recently, however, the head of my division announced that all of our managers are being made vice-presidents.  Their jobs will remain exactly the same, but the title change qualifies them for a pay increase.

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
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