Q: One of my co-workers, Andrea, was recently promoted to a higher-level position. I applied for the same job, but was never even interviewed, despite the fact that I have more experience and my work is more complex. My boss says Andrea has the necessary qualifications, but I have investigated and found that this is not true.
I have also learned that my manager secretly helped Andrea prepare for the interview. But when I requested a recommendation, she never followed through. Now I'm concerned that she may be belittling me to other managers in the company.
I find myself spending a lot of time monitoring my manager's behavior and trying to keep other people in the group on my side. I would really like to move to another department, because all this negativity is exhausting. Do you have any advice?
A: Saying that you need to keep people on your side makes it sound as though you are engaged in some sort of battle with your boss. If she perceives you as adversarial, that may explain her reluctance to recommend you for a higher-level job. Promotions are seldom given to employees who are considered difficult, even if they are well-qualified.
Since managers always have their own grapevine, your boss's negative perception might also affect your ability to transfer within the company. Just as employees gossip about bosses, bosses also talk about employees. Without belittling you, your manager could still share the opinion that you are somewhat challenging to manage.
The bottom line is that, even if you dislike your manager, you will nevertheless benefit from having her support. So instead of wasting energy investigating your colleagues and fretting about lost opportunities, you would be wise to focus on building a better relationship with her. Q: I manage the administrative office in a high school. One of our secretaries, Cheryl, has a habit of openly talking about her personal problems and family issues with teachers, students and parents. I have mentioned that she is sharing too much information, but Cheryl sees nothing wrong with this. What is the proper etiquette in this situation?
A: This is not an etiquette issue. It's a management issue. As the person responsible for establishing office standards, you have an obligation to keep employees from engaging in unsuitable behavior.
For example: Cheryl, friendliness is certainly one of your strengths, but there is a difference between being friendly and being unprofessional. Discussing your personal problems with students and parents is completely inappropriate, so I need for you to stop doing this. If you're not sure where to draw the line, I will be glad to clarify what's acceptable.
Whether Cheryl agrees with this rule really doesn't matter. Once you have explained your expectations, she simply needs to abide by them.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of Secrets to Winning at Office Politics. Send in questions and get free coaching tips at http://www.yourofficecoach.com.