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Workplace Advice

Your Office Coach: Poor safety record can hurt job search

Q: I was recently fired for a safety violation because I failed to turn off a circuit breaker when making some repairs. I knew better than to make such a stupid mistake, but I just wasn’t paying attention. I received a similar warning several years ago, plus a few small talks about safety pr…

May 14, 2014 1:39 pmLoading…

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: 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: 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: Meet with boss who bumbled promotion bid

Q: After working at an amusement park for three years, I am hoping for a promotion to supervisor. My last attempt, however, was a fiasco. When my supervisor quit, I told our manager, "Bob," that I was interested in the position. Bob gave me an application and said he would keep me in mind.

March 06, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Commenters offer revealing opinions on too much skin on job

After receiving a complaint about female co-workers who wore revealing outfits, I asked readers to share their views on professional office dress for women. Here's a representative sample of their comments:

February 20, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: In making chitchat at work, it's best to avoid sexual innuendo

Q: I am very upset about a remark made by my team leader, "Mitch," in a meeting. Our group works together closely, so we have become rather casual in the way we communicate. People use curse words occasionally, and we kid around a lot. As the only woman in the group, I always felt that I was…

February 07, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Well-meaning advice can seem like criticism

Q: I was recently told by both my boss and human resources that people have been complaining about me. My co-workers say I act superior and try to oversee their work. Apparently, my genuine offers of assistance have been viewed as meddling.

January 31, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Discovery of indiscretion makes for an office enemy

Q: About a year ago, while working an evening shift, I accidentally walked in on the CEO's secretary in a compromising position with one of the vice presidents. From then on, this secretary did everything possible to make my life miserable, even though I never mentioned the incident to anyon…

December 20, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Disappointed worker needs to stop dwelling on missed promotion

Q: One of my co-workers, "Andrea," was recently promoted to a higher-level position. I applied for the same job but was never even interviewed, despite the fact that I have more experience and my work is more complex. My boss says Andrea has the necessary qualifications, but I have investiga…

November 29, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Manager's backing imperative to supervising difficult team

Q: My manager, "Ray," recently asked me to begin supervising the clerical staff. This is a troublesome group of five women who have a history of slacking off. They always arrive late and leave early, but put a full day on their time cards. Ray knows about these problems, but has done nothing…

November 22, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Bad boss? Try lowering your expectations

Q: I was recently assigned to a manager who has a reputation for being a poor leader. "Gary" is not very knowledgeable and comes across as insecure. A few weeks ago, he called me into his office and critiqued my work down to the last microscopic detail. This was highly insulting, because I h…

November 01, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Abusive attitude begins at the top

Q: Our company's human resources manager is an autocratic bully. She gives people verbal warnings for being one minute late and has been known to subject employees to searches. Even though everyone regards her as cruel and obnoxious, she seems to have a disproportionate amount of influence w…

October 25, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Co-worker's romance at work presents a sensitive problem

Q: Two of my co-workers, "Jake" and "Cheryl," sit next to each other and spend a lot of time whispering and giggling. They often leave the office together and are sometimes gone for hours. Jake's wife recently told me they have separated because he is having an affair with Cheryl.

October 18, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Ask boss for help in gaining visibility

Q: Even though I'm a senior manager, no one outside my department seems to know I exist. Whenever people need information related to my group, they always contact my boss. Instead of referring them to me, she will either answer the question herself or go to my employees for assistance. I am …

October 11, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Provide clear guidance on appropriate dress

Q: One of my employees frequently wears clothing that is too small and too tight. Although we have a written dress code, "Rachel" has apparently decided to ignore it. Customers and co-workers have commented on the amount of skin and cleavage she displays.

October 04, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Don't be childish over tardiness issue

Q: My manager recently gave me a performance warning for coming to work late. She has started monitoring me very closely, which makes me feel like some sort of criminal. I don't think I deserve to be treated this way just because I have poor time-management skills.

September 27, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: County agency unlikely to change toxic culture

Q: I am the executive director of a small community mental-health center. Recently, the county department of social services (DSS) contracted with us to provide counseling to children in foster care. Shortly after beginning this collaboration, we were blindsided by the negative organizationa…

August 16, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Readers sound off on bodily noises in the workplace

A recent letter from a woman who was stressed out by her co-worker's bodily noises generated quite a reaction from readers. Here are some of their comments:

August 02, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

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