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.

Is the boss a downer–or is your work just not up to snuff?

January 7, 2017
Q: “For the past five years, I have worked as a reporter for a daily newspaper. My manager corrects my work in front of others and will sometimes intercept my stories to keep them from being published. He never includes my writing in submissions for national contests. He often talks to me about ‘doing things right’ and has recently taken away some of my responsibilities. This man has been with the company for 25 years and no matter what he does, the publisher backs him all the way. Do I have to take this kind of treatment?” Discouraged

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

New start at a new job–and you can’t stand it. So what now?

September 23, 2016

Q: “After twenty years in the same job, I recently had to look for work when our family moved to a different city. The problem is that I’m already having serious thoughts about quitting. I dread going to the office every day, because I feel totally out of my comfort zone. The work is very different from what I did before, and I’m beginning to doubt my abilities. Although I feel an obligation to fulfill my commitment here, I sometimes wonder if perhaps I should be totally honest with my boss and tell her that I need to leave. On the other hand, there are very few positions available in my field, and it took me a long time to find this one. I’m not sure what to do, because I just don’t like this job.” Panicked

Got a suspicion of overtime favoritism?

September 16, 2016

Q: “My wife works in a production department where only a few employees have permission to work overtime. Everyone else must leave at the end of the shift. The people who receive these extra hours seem to have close ties with the supervisor. Does my wife have any recourse in this situation?” Need the Money