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

Boss keeps interrupting your workflow? Give this retort a try

December 18, 2015

Q: “I am an administrative assistant to my manager, who is constantly coming to me with questions and little tasks. These interruptions make it hard to concentrate on my work. When she asks me to phone someone or find something for her, I lose my focus. How can I get her to stop bothering me?” Annoyed

Who gets to solicit for charity at work, and who doesn’t?

November 25, 2015

Q: “Our boss frequently requests contributions for a charitable group that she supports. Is this acceptable management behavior?” Feeling Harassed

The buddy/boss dilemma strikes another well-intentioned victim

November 19, 2015

Q: “I recently became friends with one of my employees, and we started doing things together outside the office. Before long, ‘John’ began to slack off and pay less attention to his work. When I wrote him up for poor performance, he became very rude. Now John completely ignores my authority and even shares confidential information about me with others. I feel as though I have to walk on egg shells around him. How can I fix this?” Discouraged Supervisor

Is this sincere appreciation … or something else?

November 13, 2015

Q: “Do you think it would be okay to send a complimentary email about my boss to her manager? Or would that just look as though I’m ‘sucking up’?” Grateful

A sudden plunge into a hostile department–is there a way out?

November 5, 2015

Q: “After working as an administrative assistant in human resources for fifteen years, I recently transferred into the finance department. The two co-workers assigned to do my training have completely ignored me. The vice president’s executive assistant makes negative remarks about everyone and has an inflated sense of her own importance. These women seem to enjoy making others feel bad, and I believe they are threatened by my knowledge and experience. How should I handle this?” Unwelcome Employee

Helping a co-worker stifle simmering resentment

October 30, 2015

Q: “My manager and I are concerned about one of my long-term employees who has a very negative attitude. ‘Jerry’ has been here for more than twenty years, but has not been promoted because of his job performance. He sometimes lets his resentment about this come to the surface. We recently got a new department head, and Jerry is having trouble adjusting to the change in management style. He doesn’t seem to understand that his poor attitude is going to cause him problems with the new boss. What can we do to help him?” Worried Supervisor

Helper or enabler? The line is not that fine

October 23, 2015

Q: “I work with a woman who seems unwilling to learn anything on her own. About twelve months ago, ‘Tanya’ transferred back into our department after being gone for five years. Although we are now using completely different software, she refuses to take classes or consult the manual. Tanya constantly asks me to help her and often wants to copy my work. She shows no interest in the online training that I have suggested. Her endless requests are driving me crazy. What should I do?” Not a Teacher

When you’re hired into a mess, it’s best to just grab a broom

October 8, 2015

Q: “After two days at my new job, I have not yet signed a payroll form or been told about my work hours. This is a small family business which has been quite successful, but seems very disorganized. I have made two appointments with the owners to discuss my schedule, but they forgot both times. Is this a bad sign?” Worried Newcomer

How’s this for spineless boss behavior?

September 25, 2015

Q: “Last week, one of my co-workers handed me my annual performance appraisal and said my boss wanted me to sign it. When I saw that he had given me a below-average rating, I felt really hurt. I told my co-worker that I would not sign the form because I did not understand the reasons for my rating. Apparently, my manager doesn’t think I’m important enough to spend five minutes explaining it to me. Do I have a right to be angry about this?” Offended

Make quick work of cyber-snoopers

September 11, 2015

Q: “The woman whose desk is next to mine is pals with our network administrator, who supposedly likes to read every email that comes into the company. I recently figured out that these two have been reading my personal email whenever I access my account at work. Even more alarming, they apparently tried to log in to my online banking. What can I do about this?” Harassed