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Office Coach

Office Coach: 'Pay for performance' system causes friction

Q: I am appalled by the "pay for performance" system recently implemented by my company, which has more than 10,000 employees. Forced rankings are used to assign performance review scores, so 60 percent of the staff must now be rated as "meets expectations." Only 10 percent are allowed to re…

August 07, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Boss blindsided by request for internal transfer

Q: I recently applied for a position in another department without telling my boss. The job description sounded interesting but lacked important details, including work hours. I figured, however, that I could ask those questions during the interview.

July 24, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Ignoring silly custom causes hurt feelings

Q: I share an office with "Megan," who always says "bless you" when I sneeze. I think this is a silly habit, so when she sneezes, I say nothing. Recently, Megan scolded me for being rude when I failed to bless one of her sneezes. What's the best way to handle this?

July 17, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Don't play colleague's silly 'superiority game'

Q: I have an older co-worker who constantly tries to prove that he's smarter than I am. "Tom" never went to college, while I have an advanced degree. Although I never mention my education, he brings it up all the time.

July 10, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Don't approach new boss over changed job duties

Q: I am extremely upset about a recent reorganization. For several years, I have been a project manager in an international nonprofit agency. As part of my job, I have always been expected to attend senior staff meetings and participate in critical decisions.

July 03, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: 'Basket case' must restrain emotions or face dismissal

Q: I recently hired an employee who appears to be a high-strung basket case. "Shannon" is experienced and intelligent, but working with her is almost unbearably exhausting. Every phone call lasts at least an hour, and most of our face-to-face meetings end in tears. Her lengthy emails are all…

June 19, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Don't waste time seeking tattletale

Q: I recently made the mistake of including an inappropriate person on a group email. Someone tattled about this to my boss, who sternly warned me to never do it again. I'm not sure who the tattletale was, but I suspect three people. Two of the suspects are my co-workers, and the third is a …

June 12, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Complaining about jerk potentially may backfire

Q: Half the employees in our department are young people in their 20s, while the rest of us are over 40. The younger folks are definitely a different breed. Their ringleader, "Mike," is rude, arrogant and disrespectful. He likes to order people around and create unnecessary drama. In staff m…

June 05, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Boss must keep whistleblowers' identity secret

Q: Whenever my employees have a complaint about a co-worker, they ask me to handle the problem without mentioning their name. If the issue is trivial, I tell them to talk with the other party directly, but sometimes there are policy matters that I need to address.

May 29, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: New executive assistant should pin down what company boss expects

Q: I was recently hired as the executive assistant to a company president. On my second day, he gave me a project to do, then took off the afternoon to play golf. I had questions about this assignment, so I called his cellphone and sent an email, but got no response.

May 22, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Find a workplace-specific solution to problem cellphones

Q: The issue of employee cellphones is driving me crazy. I manage a small medical clinic with 15 staff members who interact with patients all day. Initially, I trusted them to use good judgment about personal calls, but that didn't work. Next, I asked them not to carry cell phones unless the…

May 15, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Carefully deflect sales pitch from boss

Q: The head of our department has been pressuring employees to purchase products from her husband, who recently began selling diet supplements through a multilevel marketing company. When I was invited to a "party" at their home to hear a sales pitch, I politely declined. But she still keeps…

May 08, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Good employment history should overshadow firing

Q: Six months ago, I was fired from a company where I worked for two years. My co-workers were a tight clique of women who blamed me whenever something went wrong. The supervisor supported them, and human resources didn't seem interested in my side of the story.

May 01, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Muster the courage, leave abusive boss

Q: The verbal abuse that I receive from my boss has been escalating for several years. About once a week, he begins shouting, cursing and banging on my desk. He starts criticizing my work, then brings up issues from my personal life.

April 24, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: To end power struggle, ask boss for help

Q: My manager, "Melanie," is undermining my relationship with my staff. Shortly after I was promoted to supervisor, my employees began going to Melanie with work-related concerns. Instead of involving me in these discussions, she tells me afterward how I should handle their issues.

April 17, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: As co-owner steps in, office secretary acts out

Q: My husband and I own a business that has seen some difficult economic times. For the past two years, we have had to reduce staff and cut salaries just to stay afloat. Now that our children are older, we have decided that I should start working in the office, especially since I have previo…

April 10, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Give employees some privacy, yourself a room with a door

Q: Our department's physical layout has created a lot of problems. My employees work in a completely open area without cubicles or dividers. There are no enclosed spaces where we can talk privately about confidential matters, such as personal problems or performance issues. The staff frequen…

April 03, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Do as co-worker asks - leave him alone

Q: What can I do about a co-worker who has decided he doesn't like me? For the last two years, "Matt" has been disdainful and dismissive whenever I try to talk to him. Recently, after I attempted to start a conversation, he loudly said, "This girl keeps trying to get me to talk to her. I wis…

March 27, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Set boundaries to avoid unpaid work

Q: I believe my employer is taking advantage of me. This company hired me to do telephone sales as an independent contractor, which means that I am paid strictly on commission with no benefits. There are no other contractors in the office where I am located.

March 20, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Shy deputy manager needs to show self-confidence

Q: After being promoted to a deputy director position in my agency, I initially felt excited and grateful. However, I have now become disillusioned because the director doesn't include me in any activities. I am supposed to be her backup, yet I know nothing about her job. She also questions …

March 13, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

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