At Work from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:05:39 -0800 At Work from Creators Syndicate 967a615bc8efc7656566e8e6c8ef98e1 Getting a Job isn't Everything for 12/14/2017 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Q: I was hired at a large company through a department head and was never told to go through the formal hiring process, not even to fill out an application. My immediate supervisor had just been hired several weeks before me. When I started, no one introduced to me to anyone &#8212; not co-workers, colleagues, other supervisors or other department heads, so I started introducing myself to employees in my area. Several weeks later, human resources called me into their office to say they had complaints about me being overly friendly. I apologized and promised to keep a low profile. </p> <p>My newly hired supervisor wanted me to work evening hours due to teleconferences that were to take place, so he would juggle my hours accordingly. I accommodated his need for continual changes without complaining. He also forgot nearly every assignment he gave to me. When I reminded him of each one, he would say he didn't recall and drop the subject.</p> <p>After one month, I was let go due to poor performance, blamed for the erratic work hours, and given one month's severance pay. I was shocked. I had made two mistakes in that first month of employment, but during that time my supervisor told me I was doing "fine." I'm upset about being fired, especially due to the reasons given. How should I handle this?<p>Updated: Thu Dec 14, 2017</p> 8d8b7fbca38451b1c8be0eebb31546c1 Know Your Legal Rights for 12/07/2017 Thu, 07 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Q: Our small company is high-workload environment. Everyone is under stress, but some handle it better than others. A co-worker went ballistic on me, throwing a stapler that missed me and hit the wall so hard, it left a gash. This violent outburst combined with the normal stress level at work has scared me and affected my ability to eat, sleep and focus on my job. My doctor referred me to a psychologist who I have been seeing regularly. I took a short leave of absence but don't feel secure enough to return. My boss told me the situation would not change. What can I do?</p> <p>A: Many workplaces have stressful environments, but violent behavior and the potential of further violence at work is unacceptable. Your boss' comment shows poor leadership ability and a serious lack of knowledge required for a management position. </p> <p>Here's what you must do after such an event: Verbally notify your boss and the human resource department immediately after the incident; follow it up with a written report describing all the details. Also furnish your doctor's report to the HR department. Having to continue working with a person you know to have violent emotional outbursts would affect most people.<p>Updated: Thu Dec 07, 2017</p> ab41b7442f2439155bb879cf5fafa6c3 Working After A Conviction for 11/30/2017 Thu, 30 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Q: I've had an excellent career for more than 10 years in IT, but I made a mistake that seriously hurt my career. My first few years were productive and I received excellent performance reviews, salary increases and a promotion. I then got a new manager and he was trying to force me out to hire his own team.</p> <p>On leaving the company, I deleted a number of files I had created. I also posted several messages on the Internet involving that manager. I was caught, prosecuted and pleaded guilty to a felony charge (unauthorized access). I received a one-year probation. </p> <p>I apologized to the company for my actions and I voluntarily went through counseling. My resume is well written; I have excellent communication and interview skills, a good work history and great references and solid experience. I have been upfront about my situation, but employers have backed off. I then changed my strategy and waited to explain my record after being offered a job. Each company rescinded the offer. Where do I go from here?<p>Updated: Thu Nov 30, 2017</p> b437efdc234dc029cace5205bf8ecab7 Employees Leave Jobs At All Costs for 11/23/2017 Thu, 23 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Q: I head a department at a large company and directly report to a new president. He has a record of turning around companies, has excellent technical background, but zero interpersonal skills. If he doesn't need anything from you at that moment, he treats you as if you're a non-entity. He must be good at what he does, but he acts as if people are worth only as much as their accomplishments and seem to have no human value to him. Everyone in the company feels disposable, and no matter what jobs they fill, they notice the change in environment. Siri, ALEXA, and Cortana now have more manners than management here.</p> <p>This has resulted in long-standing employees planning to leave; one employee told me she didn't have another job but would rather live on a far more limited income rather than to continue working here. I spoke to human resources about the problem with treating employees like non-humans, especially with today's focus towards a more enlightened, humane management style, only to discover they delivered my comments to the president. HR also reported to their bosses several lower level employees who filed what they thought would be anonymous complaints. HR must be following orders from the top, but all they've accomplished is to alienate everyone. It's a useless department other than to produce forms and function as the benefits police. </p> <p>Other department heads have followed the president's management style, but I refuse to lower myself to this less than human approach since I disagree with it. I'm putting feelers out there but I can't discuss the president's lack of humanity as my reason for wanting to leave, so I'd like an unbiased view of my options before I am asked to resign, which I'm sure is coming.<p>Updated: Thu Nov 23, 2017</p> 55b797446ea737511578467aa7da294b Nasty Meetings Are Killing The Job for 11/16/2017 Thu, 16 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Q: I'm a department head at a medium-sized but lucrative business. The work is exciting, challenging and important. The drawback is the environment. The owners micromanage to the point of creating a stressful, unnecessarily competitive and confrontational atmosphere. Instead of cooperation where everyone works together for the good of the company, individuals butt heads regularly and accuse each other of more things than I can describe. Our meetings turn into verbal attacks on every person who dares to make a suggestion or comment of any kind, no matter what the person is suggesting &#8212; good or bad &#8212; and no one sticks to the subject. Each person wants to make his mark and will stop at nothing to do that. Compromise doesn't exist because of the ego clashes among all. </p> <p>I have periodically reminded everyone of the way brainstorming is supposed to work; everyone can safely make suggestions and comments of any kind are withheld until we are ready to discuss them. We start as reasonable people, but once someone slips and gently criticizes a point made all hell breaks loose. We become stars in a reality show where everyone wants the spotlight. Have you ever seen people talking at each other so no one is heard? I am done playing referee and I haven't done it well. I don't think anyone can change it due to the competitive personalities, and I want to leave no matter how much I like the work itself. I can easily find another job, but can I reveal my real reason since I am not criticizing the job or anyone in particular?<p>Updated: Thu Nov 16, 2017</p> a45e9f1e5ac0b94caab0efffcc20311d Tossing It All Away: New Job, New Path, New Life for 11/09/2017 Thu, 09 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Q: I am a registered dietician and health consultant who created a healthy dessert company. I sampled out the desserts and received great feedback on each item, rented a commercial kitchen, and found a packaging company so I could sell them as snacks in small food shops and restaurants. The restaurant industry is a tightly knit group in this city, so when I met with chefs and restaurant owners, I hear things like "there's no place for the items on the menu" or they "already have similar items." I know that's not true. I use pure ingredients with no compromised or imitation products. </p> <p>I worked for a large corporation in the food industry, so I know the business. I have handled everything myself to keep expenses down, but it has still been an expensive endeavor &#8212; buying top level ingredients, meeting all the licensing requirements, renting a commercial kitchen, finding a professional food packaging company, marketing, appearing at food shows and making sales calls all on top of the excessive overall living expenses in this city. </p> <p>I thought more places would be interested in serving healthy desserts, but the businesses I've talked to don't share that as a priority. With all the evidence that sugar is directly connected to diseases, I thought sales would be easier. I get close to giving up, but I've put a lot of money into it and I want to make this work. <p>Updated: Thu Nov 09, 2017</p> afe3d0f881bc8d44dd1a91f3009d9c1b Keeping Or Getting A Job for 11/02/2017 Thu, 02 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Q: After 20 years of "excellent" performance reviews at the same company, I was laid off. Six months before that day, my boss wrote me up for being incompetent; then he said I didn't work well with my team; then he said there was no longer enough work so he had to let me go. Guess what followed? He called me the next Monday to ask me to work as an independent contractor. I fought back using all my reviews and letters from clients and suppliers thanking me for such good servicing of their accounts. Tell employees to save everything. There's nothing like hard evidence to dispute an unethical boss and a company trying to write its own laws. </p> <p>A: Twenty-two years is a long time to save records, but it saved you when you most needed it most &#8212; once you reached the age for caution in the workplace. It's sad when employees with great work histories and current accomplishments have to protect themselves from age discrimination situations, but it's a reality employees must face as they age. </p> <p>There is another side to age discrimination that no one discusses, though it doesn't sound like it applies to you. Every person ages differently, but there are ailments and health conditions that older adults commonly face such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and the many problems that can result from morbid obesity. There are also less apparent health problems that can seriously affect one's job performance. And the potential of these health problems discourages many companies from hiring and continuing employment for people over 50 &#8212; insuring those in the over-50 category costs more and weighs heavily on companies offering paid health coverage. In addition to the medical conditions mentioned, dementia and Alzheimer's disease can creep up slowly on individuals. Though the full picture may not be immediately apparent, the onset of the symptoms of dementia affects a person's ability to perform with the same efficiency as employers and colleagues were used to. <p>Updated: Thu Nov 02, 2017</p> da6bf15aeb1b271f2640f013abfc69f0 Is Freelance Or Regular Pay Better? for 10/26/2017 Thu, 26 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Q: I work as a full-time employee for the company owner, who is my direct boss. </p> <p>He has asked me to work on a project outside my job description and he offered to pay me as a freelancer in lieu of giving me a raise. He also told me I could do the freelance work during my regular work hours. My gut feeling is that it's a bad idea. How should I handle this?</p> <p>A: Flexibility and creative workplace management by employers and employees is not necessarily bad news in our new economy. According to "New York Super Lawyer 2017," Patrick J. Boyd of The Boyd Law Group, New York, "There is nothing unlawful on the employee's part in accepting money for freelance work, even when it is given by the regular employer. The employee just needs to report that portion of earnings as income (likely Form 1099 income). There could even be tax benefits if she can put the pre-tax money towards retirement or similar tax deferred vehicle. But as an independent contractor, she would likely be responsible for many extra taxes on the earnings due because no taxes would be removed by the employer. Freelancers often forget that if they are being paid, for example, $40 per hour, they are not likely to bank that full amount, as they are liable for income tax and other taxes employers usually cover in a traditional payroll model. If she were instead to receive a raise for the additional work, the funds would be subject to taxes taken from her paycheck for her regular job. In this context, the employee might be best by calculating his/her financial and career goals and openly discussing this freelance work opportunity with the employer to best suit her own economic needs and desires.<p>Updated: Thu Oct 26, 2017</p> fe8bf2afd391072fd307a740a1c726a7 One Bad Hire After Another for 10/19/2017 Thu, 19 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Q: I started a new business and had to hire several employees for varying jobs before I really knew what my all my needs would be. I knew I needed minimum wage employees, so I ran ads in my local area and I conducted the interviewing, which I didn't think was a big deal. I got a good response to the ads, so I know that was done correctly. I alone knew what I needed done and knew how to describe the various jobs. When I met with each applicant, I know I clearly described the job and made sure each person understood the duties, responsibilities and requirements. Some of the jobs required heavy lifting, so I informed all of each job's requirements. </p> <p>When each person started, he or she seemed competent. Each worker was good in the beginning, but as a month or two went by, situations arose with each employee. The excuses were many. Suddenly, daycare became a problem and the employee (both moms and dads) would call and need time off without offering a set schedule as a resolution. Then there were sudden doctors appointments for themselves, their children and other family members, and health problems of their in-law problems, and court dates and having to go to the airport to pick up a visitor, repeated car accidents, and a list of other unforeseen events that destroyed their reliability. Then there were those I caught stealing &#8212; money and petty cash included, inventory, office supplies and time. I even thought maybe one person was running her own business on her off-hours, but taking my office supplies home with her to run it. <p>Updated: Thu Oct 19, 2017</p> cc64c6daa3d5ab3cfd3c596a1c41d90a 'Thank You' Doesn't Replace More Money or Time for 10/12/2017 Thu, 12 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Q: I have not received a raise after two years at my company. At my interview, I was told I'd receive a year-end review and bonus based on performance. I worked my butt off and was complimented throughout the year on what an amazing job I've done. I exceeded company goals and received compliments even from my customers. I see now we are underpaid for the job, even if we had received bonuses. Instead of a raise or bonus, we were given additional responsibilities, and a group vacation. Great! Just how I wanted to spend my only time off!</p> <p>I work 12-hour days, seven days a week. I am wiped out at the end of each day, and nearly brain-dead by the weekend, so I have no time to update my resume or network. All those compliments are worthless to me. I have no life and no time to improve it or take my own vacation. </p> <p>The industry is tightly knit, so I can't rely on confidentiality if I apply for another job. I learned that the hard way years ago. I can't talk to my boss because the no-raise/no-bonus situation was announced to all of us. I also really like my boss and the employees, which is a first for me. What does a person do when there's no way out?<p>Updated: Thu Oct 12, 2017</p> a9d7bb561478529c2c83e92c01fa8418 Facing Reality Makes Decision-Making Easy for 10/05/2017 Thu, 05 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Q: My boss is dysfunctional in many ways and also probably a narcissist. He thinks and acts like he is more important than anyone else, including his own family. (I have heard him on the phone with his wife.) As for staff, he hurls insults and calls us derogatory names if anyone makes the slightest mistake, or what he thinks is a mistake. And he blames us for doing things that are not true. We are never allowed to defend ourselves, and God save us if we open our mouths in any way while he is criticizing us. If we ask questions, he calls us stupid; if we make a suggestion, he orders us to "stop talking." He will take away an assignment he had given to one of us and gives it to someone else, loudly saying that maybe that person can do it correctly. We don't think he is aware of pitting us against one another, but fortunately, we all get along and stick together. I have never known or worked for anyone like this, but I can't quit until I find another new job. Suffice it to say this man is sick, and not in a good way. How do I make this situation more tolerable and how do I explain why I am looking for a job without commenting or exposing this man's craziness?</p> <p>A: Few adults can change or break bad habits, even when they want to. So imagine what it would take to change a personality. Simply put, it can't be done. Since you're not ready to give notice, don't jeopardize your job by talking to him other than to answer his direct questions to you. Your goal of tolerating the situation is to remain passive and uninvolved. You've already seen that he interprets anything you say as a challenge to raise his ire. </p> <p>It's a plus that you and your co-workers see the obvious problem and feel a bond with each other so his divisive attempts fail. Do your job as best you can in these conditions, and accept that the man has severe emotional problems that will prevail.<p>Updated: Thu Oct 05, 2017</p> 31f46dd542d4c75699904436b47333d9 How Stereotyping Affects You At Work for 09/28/2017 Thu, 28 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Q: People often refer to each generation with its own name, but how many actually know the exact group the name refers to? According to The Center for Generational Kinetics, Gen Z, iGen or Centennials are those born 1996 and later; Millennials or Gen Y are born 1977 to 1995; Generation X was born between 1965 and 1976; Baby Boomers were born 1946 to 1964; and Traditionalist/Silent Generation was born 1945 and before. <span class="column--highlighted-text">But a 22-year-old hardly has anything in common with a 40-year-old, yet they are both millennials. How can this kind of stereotyping be helpful?</span></p> <p>A: These individuals vary in generation, but also vary in specific age, education, job experience and gender, and they have all been affected by stereotyping, negatively and positively.<p>Updated: Thu Sep 28, 2017</p> e6b3bf44cc5e7f14ec7d0e178702f71e Fired After Workforce Layoffs, No Benefits for 09/21/2017 Thu, 21 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Q: Only two of us remained employed after five others in our department were laid off. The company experienced a loss of business within the last six months, so when we didn't have orders to fill, we were asked to do other menial tasks, which made sense since we were still receiving our regular salaries. The orders were fewer and fewer as time went on.</p> <p>The owner came in a couple times a week and walked the premises to check on the employees working. He was known for his foul moods and anger when anyone made a mistake, no matter how minor it was. I had witnessed him venting and using foul language at really good employees. I can understand his being upset with his company's decline, but everyone was on edge when he was present. One day when he was in, I made a minor mistake that would not have been detectable once repaired, but my supervisor told me he had no choice but to report it. </p> <p>I don't often make mistakes, in my 25-year career, I have never been fired and never made a mistake that had to be reported. Had the owner not been in that day, my supervisor would not have even disciplined me for it. I apologized to the owner who proceeded to tell me it was a bad mistake and a report had to be filed about it. <p>Updated: Thu Sep 21, 2017</p> 3bfd4629dba496dd00e4d20804603ed5 Co-Worker Obsession for 09/14/2017 Thu, 14 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Q: A co-worker copies many things I wear and activities I do, and it's making me nervous. She colored and cut her hair the same as mine, wears the same brands and styles, and when asked by co-workers, has told them I am copying her. When she started asking me where I bought things, I told her. Once I saw her copying me, I stopped giving her the information, but her obsession has continued. She asks me detailed questions &#8212; what am I doing this weekend and with whom. It's weird and scary, and I don't think I can deal with it much longer, but I'm afraid confronting her could anger her and I don't know what she might do. </p> <p>A: Since you probably don't want to quit your job, move to a new state and change your name and phone number, you will eventually need to speak to her about her curiosity about your life and activities. If you have evidence she may be a threat, you need to tread lightly. The question then is how can you safely approach her without stirring her anger or potential for revenge. This could be a harmless annoyance by someone who has no social life or social skills, or the prelude to a dangerous situation, depending on how she reacts to being confronted. No professional can provide you with unquestionable instructions on the right way to approach her, because regardless of experience or specialty, professionals may differ on advice. Since you are the only one who knows everything that has transpired, and you alone know your level of fear and discomfort, consider all suggestions, but go with your gut when you talk to her. </p> <p>Before you reach that point, tell your boss about her behavior, but firmly request that he or she hold off from taking any action. You are simply reporting it for the record. Unless you work at a mental health facility, your boss is not likely to have the psychology background needed to make a decision based on protecting you. Neither will your company's human resource department, as its focus is to reduce the company's liability if anything should happen at work. <p>Updated: Thu Sep 14, 2017</p> cea64d8be57a9065c4d6674d6bf3e771 Disarming A Negative Past To Create A Positive Future for 09/07/2017 Thu, 07 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Q: I have a few serious problems that interfere with me getting a job, and I would like to know how to present myself to a company. I am in my 40s, single and intelligent, but suffer from bipolar disorder and anxiety. I've held several professional jobs over the years, but they caused so much stress for me I either lost or had to leave the jobs. I've been living with my mother since then. </p> <p>I know I need to return to the workforce to help my mother pay expenses, and I think I am ready to seek part-time employment. Currently, I volunteer at a women's center and write freelance articles. I know from my past work performance that I'm responsible and accountable, but I am fearful of stress causing serious problems for me again.<p>Updated: Thu Sep 07, 2017</p> 6a87e456dd99edff598244172581a110 Understanding An Abusive Boss for 08/31/2017 Thu, 31 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Q: When I interviewed with my current boss, he seemed dynamic, intelligent, helpful and caring. When I began working for him, he was helpful and kind to me, but everyone he called into his office got reamed out. He used profanity, name-calling, and lectured each one, treating them like idiots. None were. I would see their expressions &#8212; deflated and disheartened &#8212; as they left his office. Some were emotionally tougher than others, but none was exempt from the effect of being shouted at, insulted and demoralized. They returned to their desks with an overall disappointment in themselves, and they would try again to do it correctly, according to the boss' instructions, which changed after each reprimand. </p> <p>I wondered why they stayed in their jobs. Of course they needed an income, but when I asked one of them, he told me he agreed with the boss' criticism, but not the manner it was delivered. They were all smart, but they were so beaten down they felt inferior and couldn't see their worth anymore. <p>Updated: Thu Aug 31, 2017</p> 60999a0e4bd199b5fea2471288adcb55 Making The Best Of Job Status Change for 08/24/2017 Thu, 24 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Q: I am a woman in my early 60s who has worked for the same public relations firm for four years doing extensive bookkeeping with QuickBooks, managing the office, streamlining day-to-day operations, processes and systems, delivering monthly management reports, managing daily written correspondence and communication, handling office inquiries and conflict resolution and providing customer services.</p> <p>I get along well with my co-workers and they appreciated my work. I made occasional mistakes, but no more than anyone else at the company. My boss was always demanding and overly critical, but I have always acted appropriately and my performance reviews were good. </p> <p>The company experienced business and management changes that caused my job to be redesigned, which in turn caused my employment status to go from full-time to part-time. This change places me in a difficult financial situation, so I am now looking for a second part-time job so that between the two, I will be able to support myself. <p>Updated: Thu Aug 24, 2017</p> c37eab93c546e55afa3df653ef071642 Continue Job Search Until Written Offer Is Made for 08/17/2017 Thu, 17 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Q: Out of the blue, I was contacted by a corporate recruiter who said her large firm was looking to hire a handful of people in my field. She wanted to know if I knew of anyone interested. The recruiter sent me the job description, which sounded like a perfect fit for me, so I called and expressed my own interest in the position.</p> <p>The next day, she interviewed me by phone and explained more about the job and the company. The interview went well and she arranged for me to speak the following day with the person who would be my supervisor. That conversation also went well. The supervisor said he was impressed with my credentials and asked for references. I sent them the same day, thanked him for the interview and reiterated my interest in the job.</p> <p>After a week of silence, I called for an update and was told the hiring process had taken longer than expected, but I was still a candidate. Still, no word on when or if I would hear back from the company.<p>Updated: Thu Aug 17, 2017</p> 5ef6c6542574a849d8118260c7402748 How To Find A True Mentor for 08/10/2017 Thu, 10 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Q: I listen to videos of "master class" presentations of successful people marketing their systems and methods for ways to make extraordinary amounts of money. But in their introductions, they always attribute their success to having met or connected to a person who had been willing to take them under their wing to teach them. And of course, those mentors or champions didn't charge them. Perhaps those individuals took them in and taught them business because of family or social connections, but most people in the general public often don't have those family connections, or even relationships with business people who are willing to genuinely help others. </p> <p>I think mentors are important to someone moving ahead in an organization. But when my friends and I talk about moving up and getting ahead, not one of us has ever met anyone who has gone out of their way to help us get there. Mentoring may have existed years ago, but it seems as if it's dead. Out of all of the Millennials with degrees, you can't tell me that none of us are worth promoting along the way, but it doesn't seem to happen. My friends and I have business degrees, and we have all had to find new jobs to better ourselves financially and workwise. People who become sales reps can obviously be measured by their sales, but when you're working on a team, it's not always clear how much a person contributes, especially since there are always certain types who promote themselves beyond their honest contributions.</p> <p>How do we recognize and connect with bosses who will extend themselves to help an employee who cares about work and wants to develop a future at that company? <p>Updated: Thu Aug 10, 2017</p> a551ad8c8ecac8f73d5494b8ab0be3e6 Best Way to Find New Job, New State for 08/03/2017 Thu, 03 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Q: I have lived and worked in several regions of the U.S. &#8212; the East, Southeast, Midwest and West. I would like to return to the East, which was my original home, and I have chosen certain states I would consider moving to. I have preferences, but I want to remain open and would be satisfied living in any heavily populated eastern area.</p> <p>I've registered on many job seeker sites, listing the states, industries and jobs suited to my education and background; I hope to make this move my last, as I have moved around enough in my life. I didn't start moving to different regions until my late 30s and 40s, so now that I want to return east and not move again, I'm not sure how to approach this. Wanting to return and stay in one area seems to have increased my confusion rather than to calm it. I am not tied down to one state, but I would like to stay east due to family and long-time friends. </p> <p>I also don't know how to explain that I am not open to moving again after I find a new job. I don't want a company to think I have a desire to wander; moving was something that happened due to my field and the offers that appeared each particular time. I need to know what to say and what not to say.<p>Updated: Thu Aug 03, 2017</p>