Q: My co-workers have figured out how to manipulate the time clock so they don't have to put in a full day's work. Our boss never keeps regular hours either, so the staff is just following his example. Because the company is headquartered in another state, upper management doesn't pay much attention to our small office.
Although I believe it's wrong to steal time from the company, I'm beginning to feel like a fool for working all my hours. I would like to report this problem, but I'm reluctant to rat out my co-workers. Do you have any suggestions?
A: First of all, you are not a fool. You're an honest person who happens to work with a bunch of cheaters, so kudos to you for having a strong moral compass. Unfortunately, however, being right doesn't always make it easy to decide what to do.
One possibility is to present this issue not as staff misconduct but as an administrative problem. Instead of calling out your colleagues, you might simply advise the appropriate person that the attendance tracking system is not reporting hours accurately for your office. The recipient of this report can then decide what to do with it.
Attendance is typically overseen by human resources, so that may be the best place to send the information. If personal contact seems too difficult or risky, outline your concerns in an anonymous letter to the department head. Even though unsigned complaints are frequently ignored, a specific system problem is likely to be investigated.
Before taking any action, however, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons, especially since your boss might be involved in this time clock scam. Monitoring the staff is not your responsibility, so if acting as a whistle-blower could put your job in jeopardy, then keeping quiet is a perfectly acceptable choice.
New employee is a 'power-grabber'
Q: I recently hired an employee who tries to control every situation. "Megan" frequently tells me that she is accustomed to being in charge because she has held leadership roles in the past. She routinely ignores my instructions and pays no attention to deadlines.
Megan is also very disrespectful to the volunteers who donate their time to our organization. She orders them around and becomes confrontational if they question her. When I have spoken to Megan about this, she always says the volunteer was at fault. How do you manage this kind of person?
A: Megan sounds like a classic "power-grabber." Power-grabbers hate giving up control, so they automatically resent anyone who has authority over them. These employees respect only confident, authoritative managers, so you need to establish clear expectations for Megan and hold her accountable if she fails to meet them.
A greater concern, however, is Megan's disturbing treatment of volunteers. Unless she can demonstrate a more professional and courteous attitude, she should not be allowed to work with them. And if Megan is still in her probationary period, you may have sufficient evidence to conclude that she should not be working there at all.
Boss drops hints about productivity
Q: My boss keeps mentioning that working through lunch is a good way to get more done. I've told him repeatedly that lunch is very important to me because I'm a diabetic, yet he continues to make these comments. On top of that, he frequently reminds me how many sales I must make in order to offset my salary. This constant badgering is both annoying and stressful. How should I respond to him?
A: Wimpy managers fear giving direct feedback, so they often express their concerns by dropping hints. Since your boss apparently falls into this category, the odds are good that he doesn't really care what you do for lunch. He's just not happy with your productivity.
To curtail these random references, try initiating a conversation about the real issue. For example, "I know that I'm slightly behind on my goals for the year, but I have some thoughts about how to catch up. I would also like to get your ideas. Could we schedule a time to discuss this?"
Draft a step-by-step plan for meeting your goals, then regularly review progress with your boss. Once your sales are back on track, I guarantee that he will be much less interested in your dining habits.