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,, offers a variety of career success strategies. Send your question to Marie at

How to stop boss’s de-motivating ‘Group Scolding’

January 25, 2011
Question:  Whenever our boss is upset, he calls a group meeting and administers a general scolding. Since he is never specific, we are all left wondering who screwed up. To me, this approach seems immature and unproductive. If I make a mistake, I would rather be chewed out privately, not included in a public lecture that makes everyone feel bad. Our manager’s collective reprimands have sunk morale into a black hole. Any suggestions for dealing with this?  – Blamed for Nothing

Fire the liar?

January 19, 2011
Question: My husband listed a four-year degree on his resume, even though he only has a two-year degree.  When he was truthful about his education, he was not getting any interviews, despite having 20 years’ experience. Three weeks ago, he started a new job, but today the HR manager sent him an email saying that the college could not verify his degree. He did attend this school, but left before graduating. My husband is not a liar. He was close to receiving his B.S. degree…

Glowing praise, but virtually no raise?

January 12, 2011
Question:  Our company was acquired by a large corporation. When jobs were realigned, mine was assigned to a lower pay grade.  However, as we merged functions, my responsibilities were effectively doubled. At my performance review, I received glowing praise.  But I was told I will only receive a 1 percent raise because my salary is almost $10,000 more than others in my group.  My boss says this decision is “not personal”.  Should I believe him?  -Demotivated

Getting the “Silent Treatment”?

January 5, 2011
Q: “Until two weeks ago, I had a nice working relationship with “Kate,” my administrative assistant. Then she suddenly stopped talking to me. Now she will only ask necessary business questions. She is fine with everyone else in the office, but won’t even look at me.”

Think you’re smarter than your boss? Think again.

December 22, 2010
Question: “As a salesperson, I have tremendous talent and can run circles around almost anyone.  But about two months ago, I started a job where my abilities don’t seem to be appreciated. My manager feels the need to comment constantly on whatever I’m doing. He accuses me of thinking I know everything. He also says he can’t talk to me because I’m defensive …

New boss has hidden agenda

December 15, 2010
Question: “I am in a very strange situation. When I was recruited by this company, I was told I would be reporting to the vice president. But when I started work, the VP said that I would report to one of his Directors instead…

Teetotalers: Surviving the holiday parties

December 8, 2010
Question: “Last year, our company celebrated the holiday season at a bar near our office building.  This event was basically an “alcohol fest” that began after work and continued late into the evening. I never drink alcohol because my father died of alcoholism. Also, I really don’t care for the taste. However, I’ve found that when I decline a drink, people regard me as strange. Sometimes they become insistent and insulting, saying things like “What’s wrong with you?” or “Are you in recovery?”  Apparently, I am the only person in this entire group who doesn’t drink. It hurts to be called an oddball, so I’d like to be less conspicuous.  I was a new employee at last year’s party, but this time I want to be prepared.” —Abstainer

Resolving issues with annoying co-workers

December 1, 2010
Question: “I sit next to a woman who spends a good portion of her day typing e-mails to friends and co-workers.  Sometimes these messages are a page long. This person and I have a history of communication issues. Our supervisor even said that our problems have been a distraction for the team. The relationship seems somewhat better now, so I don’t want to rock the boat. But she keeps typing, typing, typing, and it’s getting a little irritating.  How do I handle the sound of this typing all day long, especially when I’m trying to concentrate on my work?” —  Tired of the Sound

When the office slacker is the owner’s daughter

November 19, 2010
Qustion: “My boss hired her daughter, “Tammy”, to work part-time in the business. Before that, I was her only employee. Tammy is arrogant, foul-mouthed and a know-it-all. She spends most of the day surfing the Internet and texting her friends. Although she is supposed to help with office work, Tammy won’t even answer the phone. She does exactly what the boss tells her to do and nothing more. I recently discovered that she is being paid almost as much as I am, which is extremely insulting. My boss had told me she was making much less. I doubt that any criticism of the daughter would be well-received, so I don’t know how to address this issue without creating hard feelings. Until this happened, I really loved my job.  What should I do?” — Resentful

Is management right for you?

November 11, 2010
Question: ‘In my company, the only way to get a decent raise is to be promoted, so I decided to apply for a management job. I expected to receive the same salary as my friend, who has a similar position with another team.  When I got the promotion, my new boss didn’t say how much my raise would be. However, he asked me to commit to staying in his department.  I told him I would stay as long as the money was right. It turns out that I not only make less than my friend, but I also work about 50% more hours. This promotion has been bad for my health, my family, and the quality of my work.  At this point, even a huge raise would not make me happy. I want to transfer to a different department, but I am not sure how to go about it.” — Underpaid & Overworked