Q.Dear Pat: We work in a small start-up company for a really great guy. He’s a true visionary and we feel lucky to be working with him. When he brought us onboard, he told us we’d be working our butts off getting this thing off the ground, but that we’d all be part of a team – including him. He was right about the work, which includes long hours and a lot of nights and weekends, but we all really care about what we’re trying to create. And when he’s here, he works as hard or harder than anyone. The thing is, he’s the only one of us who has children, and he’s always leaving early to attend their school programs, coach their sports events on weekends, etc., while we’re left to make sure the work gets done and the deadlines are met. He’s a nice person and the rest of us genuinely like him – and his kids – but it doesn’t seem fair, and it isn’t how teams are supposed to be.
Q.Dear Pat: I’m in charge of keeping track of my co-worker’s vacation time and other time off (doctor’s appointments, etc), and one or two workers are really abusing the company’s policies. For example, one guy called in sick with a “migraine”, but that day he posted on Facebook that he “had a great day playing hooky at the lake!” Sometimes it’s even more blatant, where they actually tell me to my face what they really did when they were supposed to be at the dentist or whatever. I don’t want to be Mr. Morality, but I kind of resent that they’re getting away with something I would never do because it’s just wrong. If I keep quiet, it feels like I’m just as guilty, but if I report it to my boss and he comes down on them, they’ll know he got the information from me. When I was given this responsibility I didn’t really know these people. Now they’re my friends. What should I do?
Q.Dear Pat: When my boss goes out of town, which he does frequently, he asks me to stop by his house twice a day to feed his dog, since I don’t live very far from him. I feel put on the spot whenever he asks and it’s really starting to irritate me, even though he always offers to pay me. I’ve tried hinting that he put the dog in a kennel or get a pet sitter, but he says his dog doesn’t like being around strangers, and he just goes on and on about how much his dog loves me. I really like my boss – and his dog, for that matter – but one of the reasons I’ve chosen not to have a dog myself is that I don’t want this kind of obligation taking up my free time. How can I get out of this without jeopardizing a good working relationship with the guy who signs my paycheck?
Q.Dear Pat: Two of my employees are driving me crazy. They are constantly running to me with complaints about one another. I’ve tried to get the two of them to work out their differences but it’s just no use. I feel like I spend half my time listening to their tirades. I don’t know if it’s something personal or just bad chemistry but I’m at my wits end. How can I make them get over it and get to work?
Q.Dear Pat: I supervise a group of seven support staff in the customer service department of a large organization. I’ve told them that I didn’t care when they went to lunch, as long as at least two of them were in the office at all times, and to work it out among themselves. I’ve always believed that if I treated my employees like professionals, they would behave that way. Well, I guess I was wrong because twice last week there was only one staffer in the office during the lunch period, and once they just locked the office and forwarded the phones! I hate to treat them like children, but I don’t know what else to do besides enforcing a strict lunch schedule created by me.
Q.Dear Pat: I work in the reception area of a prestigious firm, and a client has started asking me out. I keep making up excuses but he doesn’t seem to get the hint. Now he’s calling or stopping by “just to chat”. I tell him I’m busy but he doesn’t stop. He keeps me from my work and he makes me uncomfortable. I asked my boss to speak to him, but he’s one of our biggest clients and she doesn’t want to offend him. I know it’s not sexual harassment because he never says anything suggestive, but he’s really become a pest.
Q.Dear Pat: One of the guys I work with smells really bad. I don’t know if he doesn’t bathe or never washes his clothes but he reeks. It’s bad enough when I have to walk by his cubicle (I usually hold my breath), but when I’m stuck next to him in a meeting, it’s just awful. He has really bad breath, too. How do I tell him without hurting his feelings?
Q.Dear Pat: I’ve witnessed a co-worker taking home office supplies on a regular basis. A pen or pencil is bad enough but now it’s reams of copy paper and a spare keyboard. I’ve joked with him that I’d “rat him out”. He just laughs and says they don’t pay us enough, and I should do it, too. I’m tired of watching company money (which could be used to give me a raise) walk out the door. If I tell anyone, he’ll know I was the one to report him and that would make things awkward. Suggestions?
Q.Dear Pat: My boss is very religious and keeps many graphic religious artifacts in her office. We often use her office for meetings with potential clients, as it is the only conference space in our building. I have seen the look on people’s faces when they walk in; they appear uncomfortable and eager to get out. I think her taste in “art” is hurting business. I have mentioned it to her, but she doesn’t think her artwork is offensive. I know she has the right to decorate her office any way she wants, but I work on commission and it’s costing me money. Any suggestions?
Q.Dear Pat: I work hard, do a good job, and get a lot of compliments from customers and from my supervisor. My problem is my co-worker. He has more education than I do and is constantly criticizing my work, saying that I’m not as qualified as he is. He has outright told my supervisor – and anyone else who will listen – that I should never have been hired since I don’t have a college degree like he does. I say, if a degree isn’t in my job description, I shouldn’t be criticized for not having one. I’m really fed up with his put-downs and I’m afraid one of these days I’m going to say something I’ll regret. What can I do?