Q: My boss appears to be taking credit for a difficult project that I am working on, even though it does not involve him. The vice president of our department recently sent out an e-mail in which she congratulated my manager and me on the project's success and expressed appreciation for our hard work.
My manager could have graciously set the record straight by replying to the vice president and giving me the credit, but he didn't do this. Now I wonder if he may be exaggerating his role. What should I do about this?
A: Credit-grabbing managers are extremely annoying. However, based on the evidence provided, I think you may be jumping too quickly to an unwarranted conclusion.
The vice president specifically mentioned you in her congratulatory e-mail, so she obviously knows about your involvement with the project. Including your boss in the compliment is customary office etiquette, since managers have ultimate responsibility for all work done in their departments.
While your boss may not have "set the record straight" with an e-mail, you don't know what's going on behind the scenes. He could be commending you in conversations with executives or praising your work in progress reports. After all, the vice president was aware of your role.
As for the slides you created, all managers use work produced by their employees when talking with higher-ups. That's standard operating procedure.
Try to remember that, for future success, support from your boss is much more valuable than solo recognition for this project. If you develop an adversarial relationship, he will be much less likely to give you credit for anything.
Make your work more manageable
Q: Lately, I have become short and snappy with my co-workers. I am the secretary for a medical group, and this job is very frustrating. I have to answer the phone, respond to patients, transmit doctors' orders, look up information, run errands and answer stupid questions. How can I stop being so irritable?
A: Kudos to you for examining your own behavior and resisting the temptation to blame others. One possible solution is to talk with your immediate supervisor about strategies for making your work more manageable. However, you may just be temperamentally unsuited for such a chaotic environment. In that case, the ultimate answer is a job that better matches your personality.
Managers shouldn't ask for donations
Q: Our manager is involved with a lot of community groups and charitable organizations. She is also a physical fitness nut who runs in marathons for various causes. Whenever she participates in something, she sends the staff an e-mail asking for contributions. Is there a polite way to tell her to stop these requests?
A: Managers should never ask employees for money, because the power imbalance hampers their ability to refuse. Even if these are worthy causes, your boss's ongoing solicitations are completely inappropriate.
The best way to address this issue depends on the size of your organization. In a large company, the human resources department will be your natural ally. Any professional HR manager will immediately understand the problem and have a talk with your boss.
But if this is a small business, a direct conversation may be necessary. A group discussion will carry less risk, so find a time when everyone is together, then describe your concerns in a non-critical manner.
If these solutions don't seem feasible, another alternative is to individually respond to her e-mails with a polite refusal: "Unfortunately, I am not able to contribute at this time. However, I certainly admire the charitable work you are doing." If enough people decline, your manager will eventually get the message.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics."