Ask the Coach

Nationally syndicated workplace columnist Marie McIntyre answers your "in the trenches" workplace questions on everything from team-building to dealing with difficult people. Marie has more than 20 years experience as a manager, business owner and the HR director at a Fortune 500 company. She writes a nationwide newspaper column and her web site, www.YourOfficeCoach.com, offers a variety of career success strategies. Send your question to Marie at Marie@businessmanagementdaily.com.
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Oh, so it’s the old ‘my co-worker provoked me’ excuse

February 10, 2017

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?”

When you’re doing contract work, know the limits of your influence

January 26, 2017
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?”

Fixing a fallen superstar

January 12, 2017

Q: “One of my star employees has developed a very negative attitude. During the past three years, I have assigned ‘Kevin’ to desirable projects, given him special bonuses and made him a team leader. However, in the past few months, he has become increasingly arrogant and uncooperative. Kevin does not reply to my emails and withholds important information. He often comes late to meetings and sometimes skips them altogether. Yesterday, he said that he does not respect my leadership style. If I officially reprimand Kevin, I’m afraid he might leave. How should I handle this situation?”

When a newbie makes more money than you do

December 23, 2016
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?”

Unappreciated and even resented at work–but who’s the problem here?

December 16, 2016

Q: “Although I work extremely hard, I get almost no appreciation. In fact, my entire team seems to resent my working style. My clients are not happy with me, and neither is my boss. The human resources manager has also mentioned that I have a problem. This is the second time I’ve been in this situation, so I’m afraid I might be fired. I would like to talk to my boss about it, but I don’t know how to initiate the conversation. How can I fix this?“

Attack of the overly perfumed

December 2, 2016
Q: “A woman in my office wears so much perfume that you can still smell it after she passes by. Unfortunately, her cubicle is next to mine, and the constant odor gives me a headache. When I mentioned this to her supervisor, he said no one else had complained. Now I’m debating whether to leave her an anonymous note or go to human resources. What do you think?”

Tough to build a work ethic when there’s not enough work

November 17, 2016

Q: “One of my co-workers has absolutely no work ethic. ‘Carly’ comes in late every day and leaves right at quitting time. During work hours, she calls her family, texts her friends, shops online, surfs the Web, reads the paper and listens to ballgames on her computer. I have frequently talked to the office manager about Carly’s activities, but nothing seems to change. I should mention that Carly and I get along well and even socialize together outside of work. However, her office behavior is extremely irritating. Do you have any suggestions for dealing with this?” Frustrated

Here’s a bad move: Punishing the staff for not liking you

November 3, 2016

Q: “I recently learned that my employees feel I have poor management skills and am not suited for my position. I have been told that they gossip behind my back and make sarcastic remarks about me. One of them apparently sent a letter of complaint to human resources about my ‘aggressive behavior.’ I received this information from trusted sources who work closely with these people. Since the backstabbers have made no effort to discuss their concerns with me directly, I would like to write them up for gossiping and unethical behavior in their performance reviews. Can I do that?” Angry Supervisor

When does ‘job-hopping’ become ‘can’t hold a job’?

October 20, 2016

Q: “I left my last job on very bad terms, but found a new position six months ago. I plan to look for another job after I have been in this one for a year, so I’m concerned about reference checks with my previous employer. Even though all reference inquiries are supposed to be routed to Human Resources, someone might still be able to contact my former managers, who would not have good things to say about me. How should I handle this?” Nervous

Job recommendations gone wrong

October 7, 2016

Q: “The owner of our company has hired several of my friends, based on my recommendation. The last person I recommended was ‘Angela,’ a woman whom I have known for fifteen years. Unfortunately, after Angela was hired, I learned that her husband recently left her because she drinks every night until she passes out. Angela talks constantly about what a hard life she has, so management gives her special consideration even though she doesn’t do a very good job. In reality, her friends have given up trying to help her because she habitually lies to everyone. Given her tendency to lie, I’m afraid Angela might start spreading false rumors about me at work, which could cause the owner to stop trusting me. I am also tired of her stealing my parking space. What should I do about this woman?” Former Friend

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