Q: After our former boss was promoted, his "favorite" became our supervisor. As a co-worker, "Gina" never tried to be part of the team. She seldom discussed her projects and only participated in activities that allowed her to work with senior management. She somehow managed to delegate the mundane work to others.
Now that she's the supervisor, Gina avoids chatting and doesn't even say good morning when she arrives. She just keeps her head down, walks straight to her desk, and gets to work. If she does talk, she's usually complaining about the other supervisors.
I recently told my previous boss that I'm not optimistic about this change. My former teammate cannot help me develop into the leader that I want to be. What should I do?
A: Like it or not, you would be wise to accept this new reality. Management obviously felt that Gina was the best person for the job, and her promotion is not likely to be reversed. If you are openly critical of this decision, you risk being labeled a "difficult employee."
Although Gina could certainly improve her interpersonal skills, your complaints seem somewhat trivial: She works independently, dislikes chatting, gripes about colleagues and enjoys interacting with executives. Those are not exactly grievous sins.
You are correct in assuming that a new supervisor is unlikely to be a useful mentor. But since Gina managed to get high-profile assignments and interact with senior managers, she might have a lot to teach you about how to get promoted.
Don't make enemy of HR manager
Q: Our human resources manager recently said I should consider seeing a therapist because I might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Last year was difficult because my husband lost his job, then was diagnosed with cancer. I was appalled by her suggestion and told her that she was completely out of line.
A few weeks later, she e-mailed me to say that she felt we did not finish our conversation and was open to talking if I was interested. I did not reply, and now she will barely acknowledge me. I really don't care, but it's somewhat awkward because we work in a small company.
A: Your HR manager should stop playing amateur psychologist. While she needs to advise you of any job-related concerns, your private life is none of her business. She either lacks professional training or simply has an intrusive personality.
Practically speaking, however, you probably don't want her as an adversary. HR folks may lack direct power, but they often have influence and can be bad enemies. Try to re-establish a cordial, professional relationship that does not involve sharing any confidences.
Blowing whistle may put job on line
Q: I have learned about some unethical behavior in the small community bank where I work. A few years ago, the CEO's son was hired as a loan officer. He drives the bank car to lunch and takes it home nightly. His secretary says he uses a bank credit card to fill up his truck and has even charged personal items.
This amounts to stealing from the bank, which is especially annoying because employees received no raise last year. I would like to report him to the board of directors, but my only evidence is what his secretary told me. I'm also afraid that I might jeopardize my job. What should I do?
A: Although something unscrupulous could be going on here, you should be cautious about jumping to conclusions based on hearsay, because you may not have all the facts. Managers often drive company cars home, and people frequently pay back personal charges to company credit cards.
If you do obtain hard evidence that there have been violations, you must decide what to do. In a small-town bank, directors and executives are often friends, so you would need to assess the board's objectivity. If state or federal regulators provide a "whistleblower process," that might be another option.
The bottom line is that your job could be at risk, so don't let irritation cause you to act impulsively. Remember that doing the right thing does not always guarantee fair treatment.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics."