Your Office Coach

This Starbucks drama invites tattling ... but hold on

Q: "The vice president of our group only works at this office in the afternoon. In the morning, when he’s not here, the sales engineer often goes to Starbucks for coffee. The vice president is a stickler about not wasting productive time, so I’m sure he would be outraged about this. I would be reprimanded if I left to run an errand, so I don’t see why the sales engineer has this privilege. Should I tell the vice president, or am I just being petty?" Stuck at My Desk

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

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

If you can't change the co-worker, change yourself

Q: “An obnoxious co-worker was recently made the working supervisor of our nursing unit. In addition to being loud and slow, 'Ellen' is not as knowledgeable as she pretends to be. A few of her patients have asked for a different nurse. My problem is that while Ellen is in her learning curve, the rest of us have to pick up the slack and correct her mistakes. Every day, I tell myself that I won’t let Ellen get to me, but then she says something stupid, and I go crazy. I really loved my work before this woman was promoted. What should I do about this?” Dedicated Nurse

Subordinates giving less than 100% often just need a blueprint

Q: "I recently became the manager of a senior center, and ‘Sharon’ is my assistant manager. Although Sharon has a lot of experience, she never shares any information with me. She also picks and chooses the things she prefers to do. Whenever I’m out of the office, Sharon receives extra pay to serve as the acting manager, but she never performs any of my duties. She just sits at my desk and takes messages. I feel that when Sharon has down time, she should come and ask if I need help with anything. On several occasions, I have found her reading a novel or playing cards on her computer. How should I handle this situation?" Irritated Manager

Open work areas call for a different view of 'intrusions'

Q: “How do I keep an uninvited co-worker from joining my conversations? Whenever anyone stops to talk with me, the woman in the next cubicle interjects herself into our discussion. This is extremely annoying. Can I politely tell her to butt out without damaging our relationship?” No Privacy

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

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

What are the politics behind your job title?

Q: “Our new Executive Director wants to change my job title from ‘communications director’ to ‘communications manager.’ I don’t believe the title of ‘manager’ accurately reflects the complexity of my work. When I meet with my boss to discuss this issue, I plan to show him my current job description and explain how my work is instrumental to achieving his vision for the company. Do you have any other suggestions?” More than a Manager

It's a business trip, not a famly gathering

Q: “I have been asked to travel with ‘Myra,’ one of my co-workers, to attend a three-day conference. The trip is about five hours each way. We will be taking a company van, which I will be driving. Last week, Myra said, ‘I hope you don’t mind, but I’m planning to bring my one-year-old son along on the trip. Myra said that her mother will also be coming to help care for the baby. So now I am expected to take a business trip with two members of her family. Our boss has said we should just ‘work it out,’ but I’m not sure how to do that.”  Frustrated Traveler

Don't delete the bad job from the résumé--explain it

Q: “I want to know whether I can omit my last job from my résumé. For three years, I worked in a toxic organization with a controlling, verbally abusive boss. Her manager was just as bad. Any reference from these two would not be accurate, so I would prefer not to mention this job at all. Instead, I would like to tell potential employers that I was staying home with my young children during those three years. If the truth was discovered later, would that be a problem?” Worried Applicant

Confronting the 'TMI' employee

Q: “Whenever one of my employees, ‘Gina,’ has personal problems, she describes them to everyone in excruciating detail. Then she calls her friends on the phone to talk about them some more. Gina does a good job, but these conversations take up a lot of time. How can I put a stop to this without seeming hard-hearted?” Caring & Concerned