The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

January 29, 2013

Your Office Coach: Advice can be seen as interference

QUESTION: I was recently told by both my boss and human resources that people have been complaining about me. My co-workers say I act superior and try to oversee their work. Apparently, my genuine offers of assistance have been viewed as meddling.

Since I am the senior person in both age and experience, I try to help out when people have issues with their projects. My philosophy has always been, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.“ I do have a strong personality, but I believe my suggestions are useful. What am I doing wrong?

ANSWER: This is a perfect example of perception creating reality. You see yourself as a helpful mentor to your younger colleagues, while they view you as a condescending monitor. To better understand this reaction, try to consider the situation from their point of view.

Your stated philosophy is to “let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.“ But these co-workers did not come to you. Instead, you gave them unsolicited advice, which was interpreted as an implied criticism. Trying to make people “better“ does not always make them “happier.“

Despite your positive intentions, you would be wise to take a different approach, especially since management is now involved. So instead of highlighting your senior status, just try to be a friendly member of the team. You do not supervise these folks, so you are under no obligation to improve them.

Q: Seven years ago, we got a new manager who does not like careless errors. I usually do a great job, but sometimes I have a bad day and make mistakes, like adding numbers wrong or forgetting to sign a form. Whenever this happens, my perfectionist boss sends me an email about it.

Our previous manager was very appreciative and gave us frequent pats on the back. However, this one never praises our work, acknowledges birthdays or takes time to chat. She makes me feel like I’m walking on eggshells. Mistakes happen, so why is she making a big deal out of my occasional goof-ups?

A: Transitioning from a warm, supportive manager to one who is critical and aloof can be tough. Seven years, however, should be enough time to adjust to a change in leadership style. The true issue, I suspect, is that your friendly former boss was willing to overlook your mistakes.

In reality, most managers will not be happy about “careless errors,“ especially when the same ones occur repeatedly. You may resent your boss’s corrective emails, but it’s actually part of her job to provide that feedback. So instead of continuing to complain, you need to fix the problem.

While some people are naturally detail-focused, others are not. If math mistakes and missing signatures simply don’t catch your eye, then you need to start scrupulously double-checking your work before your manager ever sees it. After all, the best way to change her reaction to errors is to just stop making 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, or follow her on Twitter officecoach.

1
Text Only
Business
  • A checklist for keeping you focused at work

    A quick check of Facebook and next thing you know, a half-hour’s passed. Start chatting with a co-worker and suddenly 20 minutes is gone and the report you were supposed to finish by lunch is late.

     

    July 31, 2014

  • Fancy management systems won’t fix bad managers

    In violation of my long-standing “only watch TV” rule, I read an article recently about how Zappos is adopting a management structure known as holacracy.

    July 30, 2014

  • Your Office Coach: Supervisor-employee boundaries must be honored

    QUESTION: Two weeks ago, my husband “Barry“ unexpectedly came home from work with a large flat-screen television. He explained that one of his employees gave it to him as repayment for a loan. I was shocked, because I had no idea that Barry was lending people money.

    July 29, 2014

  • Silly mistakes that sink job applicants

    Some employers won’t care - or won’t catch them - but mistakes in word usage can put your application in the reject pile.

    July 29, 2014

  • Watercooler: Raised to the roof

    Q: Over 15 years, I have worked my way up the corporate ladder with the same organization. I have been given a raise every year and excellent reviews, as well as several promotions.

    July 25, 2014

  • Career Coach Q&A: job search follow-up; introverts as leaders

    Starting a business:

    Q: I have a stable job that I don't hate, but I have an idea for starting my own business.

    July 25, 2014

  • How to become a leader

    QUESTION: I’ve just been promoted into a leadership role. I’m excited, but also kind of overwhelmed. What do I need to do to be good at my new job?

    July 24, 2014

  • Balancing Act: How much is your time worth? Consider outsourcing some tasks

    Todd Paton has a booming business getting customers noticed on the Web. One tool he uses is generating online press releases to build brand awareness and create links that will send traffic to a customer’s website. But Paton, owner of Paton Internet Marketing, acknowledges that writing the releases is not his strong suit. Rather than spend his time doing it, he hires out the task.

    July 23, 2014

  • The Color of Money: No easy way to get out of debt

    Many people who are deeply in debt are desperate for a quick fix. They ask the question: What can I do to get out of debt?

    July 21, 2014

  • Watercooler: When to speak up if you see problems down the line

    Q: Our organization has hired a new director. I am one of a number of division heads; above us, there's the associate director, and above him is the director. The associate director is feared and disliked for his duplicity and dictatorial nature, though few have come forward because of his vindictiveness.

    July 18, 2014

Business Video
Stocks