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Workplace Politics

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: 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: 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…

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: In this case, an anonymous note to CEO may be smartest strategy

Q: Our boss's wife was recently given a position in our department. She now works two levels below her husband, "Rick," who is the head of operations. This is clearly against the company's nepotism policy, which states that no one shall have any supervisory authority over a family member.

February 28, 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: New boss must fix what predecessor overlooked

Q: Since becoming the office manager for a large medical practice, I have received numerous complaints about one member of my staff. Several people have told me that "Tricia," our front desk supervisor, frequently makes harsh and demeaning comments to employees and even speaks sharply to patients.

February 14, 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: Company doesn't care if some workers slack off

Q: I work in a small company where the owners refuse to do anything about incompetent employees. As a department head, I am not allowed to confront poor performers because the top executives, who are all family members, say they "don't want to rock the boat."

January 03, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Employees often take up slack for poor managers

Q: My supervisor is an extremely poor manager. Despite 20 years of military experience, he appears to be incapable of coordinating activities or giving clear directions. In meetings, he will say "This needs to get done today" or "That needs to be fixed" without assigning specific tasks to an…

December 06, 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: Finding a mentor is essential in a sink-or-swim job

Q: I'm afraid that I might be fired from my first professional job. Four months ago, after finishing law school, I was hired by a very large firm that has no orientation or training program. My boss keeps saying "just figure it out" and gets angry if I ask other attorneys for help.

September 06, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

Office Coach: Language barrier puts workers on the defensive

Q: Many Hispanic people hold management positions in the government agency where I work. These managers often speak Spanish in front of employees who speak only English. This makes us very uncomfortable, since we're afraid they may be talking about us. We're not sure how to approach this, be…

August 09, 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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