The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

June 4, 2013

Your Office Coach: Complaints could widen generational divide

By Marie G. McIntyre
McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)

— QUESTION: Half the employees in our department are young people in their 20s, while the rest of us are over 40. The younger folks are definitely a different breed. Their ringleader, “Mike,“ is rude, arrogant and disrespectful. He likes to order people around and create unnecessary drama. In staff meetings, he does all the talking.

Several of us complained to our manager about Mike, but she didn’t do anything. When we went to human resources, they just referred the issue back to our boss. Now Mike has been promoted to team leader and struts around the office like he’s running the show.

Most of the older employees have been here for many years and would like to retire from this company. But we are tired of working with an office bully. Do you have any suggestions for dealing with this kind of person?

ANSWER: I do have some suggestions, but you probably won’t like them. Your young colleague’s cocky, self-centered attitude is undoubtedly annoying, but you’ve offered no evidence to support labeling him a bully. Bullies are cruel and intimidating. Mike just sounds like a jerk.

Despite his jerkiness, Mike has recently been promoted, which is a clear sign of management support. Continuing to gripe about him could easily backfire and damage your own career. When one co-worker has difficulty with another’s personality, management often views the complainer as the source of the conflict.

You also fail to indicate how Mike’s aggravating behavior creates any actual business problems, which makes me wonder exactly what you have complained about. Complaints to management should always focus on work-related issues, not personal irritations.

Finally, you and the other long-termers appear to be promoting generational warfare. Branding the younger group as a “different breed“ sounds like dangerous and divisive stereotyping, which is anything but healthy. If one of these youngsters should eventually become your boss, that attitude will not serve you well.

Q: No matter how hard I try, I can’t get my boss organized. He’s always late and constantly asks for information at the last minute. Although he told me to manage his calendar, he still makes appointments himself and sometimes gets double-booked.

I have offered numerous suggestions, but he hasn’t tried any of them. He doesn’t even seem to realize he has a problem. As his assistant, I feel that I should be able to fix this, but I don’t know how.

A: Sad to say, I am not terribly optimistic about your ability to improve this situation. In matters of organization, you and your scattered boss are simply opposite personality types. This combination is not unusual, because chaotic managers often rely on meticulously thorough assistants to save them from themselves.

While some of these assistants relish the feeling of being indispensible, others are driven absolutely bonkers by their disorganized bosses. If you fall into the latter category, you will have to decide whether your manager’s good qualities outweigh his inefficiency, because that trait is not likely to disappear.

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, or follow her on Twitter officecoach.