Question: I’m the newly hired human resources director for an Alaska Native corporation and faced with a situation that has no easy answer and no good solution. I supposedly enforce our corporation’s code of conduct and oversee the human resource issues in all our subsidiaries. Our most successful subsidiary is managed by a bully who runs roughshod over his employees. I won’t be popular if I argue for him to be fired but if… Read More

Question: I’m a teacher and get to work 30 to 45 minutes before the students arrive so I can accomplish tasks that I can’t easily complete with students in the room. Other teachers consider me a grouch. I’m not. I’m just not willing to squander my first 30 to 40 minutes in chit-chat, when if I start cranking on my work pile before things get busy, I can leave school at a… Read More

Question: I’m stuck in a dead-end job but don’t have time to spend searching the want ads. I thought I’d accelerate my chances of new job by letting an employment agency search for me. When I filled out the agency’s intake form, however, the worker pulled me aside and let me know they have a contract with my employer that requires the agency to notify them if one of their employees signs up… Read More

Question:  One of my top employees, “Mary,” was rear-ended at a stop light three months ago and suffered from whiplash and excruciating headaches afterwards. Mary took off work, got help from a physician and chiropractor and returned to work. After her return, Mary worked short days and frequently complained of neck pain. I asked her several times if she wanted to continue on half days, but she said she was running out… Read More

Question: What rights do I have when our receptionist intentionally, repeatedly invades my privacy by opening my personal mail? Because I don’t always want my husband to have advance knowledge of some of my purchases, I’m forced to use my work address. Despite the fact that most of these packages have return addresses that should clearly cue the receptionist that they’re personal, she opens at least half of them. At our recent… Read More

Question: Our employer regularly asks us to fill out online surveys through SurveyMonkey, and says they’re anonymous. Are they? If we fill them out at our work stations, they’re linked to our computers. How is that anonymous? Answer: Although online surveys can provide anonymity, they don’t always. Since our company regularly administers such surveys for our clients (we use the popular SurveyMonkey platform, too), I asked our team how they — and your… Read More

Question: Soon after I started a job as an HR generalist, my new peers came to me saying, “I don’t envy you, your boss is evil.” During my hiring interview, this boss had told me, “Your predecessor loved her job, but quit suddenly for personal reasons.” I soon learned he’d lied, that my predecessor had cried in the bathroom on a daily basis before she quit. Unfortunately, this evil boss is the… Read More

Question: Our organization is in charge of remodeling a facility for an organization that serves disabled people. We recently held a client briefing outlining our plans and experienced an awkward incident. One of our representatives came into the room to meet with the client group and was shaking hands until he realized that the man next in line had a deformed hand. At that point, our representative stopped shaking hands and didn’t… Read More

Question: When ABC excluded Carly Fiorina from Saturday night’s debate, it ignited a fierce dispute among several of our employees. The arguing broke along male and female lines, and two men made statements the women employees said “crossed the line.” Until this happened, I had encouraged and participated in the political discussions. They were fun, as our group was almost evenly divided between Sanders, Trump, Clinton and Fiorina advocates. Now, to make… Read More

Recently one of my employees began to argue with me and another employee in a staff meeting. When I told him to stop, he argued more loudly and it became an awful scene. We both wound up yelling. What should I have done instead? Answer: If one of your employees raises an opinion contrary to yours in a meeting, defuse potential conflict by asking him questions to understand his views. Once he’s… Read More