Your Office Coach

When performance issues just might be life or death

Q: "I supervise two dispatchers at our local 911 emergency center. Unfortunately, one of them won’t listen to anything I tell her. 'Donna' sometimes gives out incorrect directions, so I try to interrupt the call and correct her. She just ignores me and continues transmitting, which slows down the officers’ response.

"I have explained to Donna that I am only trying to ensure that we send help to the right address as quickly as possible. Although she says she understands, she continues to disregard my instructions.

"Donna doesn’t seem to care about her mistakes, so I don’t know what to do. I’ve talked to my manager, but he hasn’t been any help." Worried Supervisor

Do you know where your performance appraisal is really coming from?

Q: “After working with my manager, ‘Julia,’ for eight years, I recently received my first negative performance appraisal. Julia plans to retire soon because she feels she has no future here. Our company was acquired two years ago, and the new management has a very different style. When I get a new boss, I’m afraid this appraisal will make a bad impression. What should I do?” Worried

When grownups bring the playground into the office

Q: “I am 28 years old and currently serving in the US Army. In the shop where I work, we have a lot of younger guys. They act so childish that it’s embarrassing to call them soldiers. They think everything is a joke and have no clue when to back off. Being deployed away from my wife and family is tough enough without having to deal with these immature, smart-mouthed kids. I mentioned this to our sergeant, but he just brushed me off. What can I do?” Grown-up Soldier

When you're asked to train someone for the job you should have gotten

Q: “I recently applied for the supervisory position in my department, but management selected an applicant from outside the company. Although my boss said I was not qualified for the position, he has now asked me to train the woman who was hired. If he thinks I’m not qualified, how can he expect me to train someone else?”  Rejected

Texting in the office: a problem, or just yet another distraction?

Q: “Our office has an outdated cellphone policy that doesn’t address text messaging. Most of our employees keep cellphones on their desk and do a lot of texting during the work day. Many people feel that management needs to step up and deal with this issue, because texting distracts people and reduces productivity. Don’t you think we should have a texting policy?” Annoyed

Got a snooty lifestyle judge on your staff?

Q: “One of my employees constantly criticizes her colleagues for making ‘immoral’ life choices. Her judgmental remarks are creating a very uncomfortable atmosphere on our team. As a business owner, I feel I have a responsibility to keep people from being harassed this way. What should I do?” Troubled Manager

This egregious example of time theft makes the recourse quite clear

Q: “I have a co-worker who is running a Web-based business on company time. ‘Linn’ spends hours monitoring her website, taking orders, sending invoices and arranging for shipments. At the end of the day, she prints out her documents and takes them home. Our boss appears to be completely unaware of these activities. He occasionally asks other employees to help Linn out because she’s so busy. However, she’s just busy making money for herself. Is there anything I can do?” Outraged

Out of alignment with your business partner? Here's what to try

Q: “A colleague and I recently started a business venture as equal partners. Whenever he wants something, 'Dave' insists on getting his own way and refuses to discuss other options. If I disagree with him, he becomes very moody. Now he would like to bring one of his radio buddies into the business, which I think would be a huge mistake. I have suggested alternate ways that we might work with this guy, but Dave won’t even consider other possibilities. These arguments are wearing me out, so I’m tempted to just disengage and start my own company. Is there any way to make this partnership work?” Ready to Quit

Do you have enough of an argument for better pay?

Q: “I feel fairly certain that I’m not being paid what I am worth. When I was hired by this start-up company, the salary offer seemed quite low for someone with a Master’s degree. I only accepted because asking for money makes me very uncomfortable. Now I feel even more underpaid because I have been given so many responsibilities. I can’t help resenting my minimal paycheck. How can I correct this?” Below Market

Why the boss's irrational last-minute requests always win

Q: “I am extremely organized and always plan my work carefully. I know exactly which tasks I must complete every day in order to meet my deadlines. The problem is that my boss constantly comes up with ad hoc requests and expects me to immediately drop whatever I’m doing to focus on his latest whim. Instead of rewarding this impulsive behavior, I usually put his requests aside until I can work them into my schedule. He doesn’t like this, so he has given me a bad performance review. I really can’t figure out how to work with him.” Hopeless