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Power Plays and Players

Here are the questions filed under this category. To read Ken's advice on any item, click on the link "Read Ken's Answer."


I have a nickname that I was given as a kid. I like it and it's how I want to be addressed. Everyone uses it except my new manager who insists on calling me by my formal name. I've told him to use my nickname, but he won't. Can you help?
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I was at a meeting with my manager and some members of senior management, and whenever I talked, my manager kicked me. I didn't know if he wanted me to keep talking or be quiet, so I ignored him. After the meeting, he said I was talking too much, and he was kicking me to get me to stop. I'm annoyed and don't know what to what tell him.
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When my sales manager comes to town for his quarterly visit, we drive to many of my customers. The problem is that he insists that we listen to political talk-radio programs that I do not like. My manager is not open to discussions about turning off the radio. What can I do?
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I have two employees who report to me, and one acts as if she is in charge. She sends me email in a tone that implies that she is calling the shots, she throws papers on my desk and tells me to handle them, and she calls me into her office when she wants to discuss something. How do you deal with an employee like this?
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One of our co-workers is always giving the rest of us medical advice. He'll make comments about our weight, skin, eyes and just about everything else. He gets his knowledge from the Internet and television. None of us ask for or appreciate his advice, and we are wondering about the best way to prevent it.
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I have asked an employee to do a certain project the way I want it done, but he simply does it his way, and his way is wrong. When I have spoken to him, he agrees to take the correct steps, and then he does it his way again. How many times do I have to tell him what I want before it's time to take more serious action?
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On a recent business trip, several of us stayed at the same hotel. After an evening meeting, it was dark when I returned alone to the hotel, so I gave the rental car to the valet. The next morning, one of my associates chastised me about giving the car to valet and said that everyone else parked in the lot. He's mentioned this a couple of times since then. I think this is absurd. Am I off base?
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I manage a department of five people, and when one of the principals of the company came in for a visit, I answered one of his questions. No sooner had I done so when one of my employees corrected my grammar. I was shocked and annoyed, but I didn't say anything to her about it at the time. The irony is that my grammar was not incorrect. When an employee does this, should I say something?
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We report to a manager who always knows just the right thing to say. When problems develop, he calms us down and makes statements that sound like everything is going to turn out fine. The only problem is that he is merely placating us, because he never takes care of whatever it was that got us upset in the first place. What's the best way to deal with him?
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A sales rep and I were making a presentation when our customer raised a pretty basic question. My associate said that I had just asked the same question and it was easy to answer. I never asked this question, since anyone who works here knows the answer. This made me look like a fool. It took all my power not to blurt something out on the spot, but I waited until we were in the car and then told him to never do that again. He told me that I'm overreacting and he was just building a bond with the customer. What do you say?
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What are your thoughts about a wife, girlfriend, or significant other taking over and running the office? This is the situation here, and all of us are afraid to say anything to our boss because he is "in love" and lets his significant other do things her way. The atmosphere is very tense, and the working environment is not efficient. This woman has the power to get any of us fired.
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I work in medical research and my problem is that when any of us make discoveries, our supervisor takes our words and turns them into his own without ever giving credit where it is due. He has privately admitted doing this. I pointed out the problem to our mutual boss, but it doesn't seem to make any difference. Any suggestions?
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My boss told me that I am trying too hard to get his job, and I should pay more attention to my own work. My work is going well and I don't think it needs any more attention from me. Besides, I thought most bosses want an employee who is motivated to move up. What's my boss's problem?
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One of my employees gives me suggestions on how to do my job, but the problem is that he only does this during meetings with my manager. I don't like this, but I don't know how to get it to stop without creating more problems. What do you suggest?
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I am not sure how to handle an employee who challenges my leadership. He makes negative comments about me to the other employees, and yesterday he flat out refused to carry out an assignment that I gave him. He has a lot of abilities and I don't want to terminate him, but I am unsure what to do.
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I have a friend at work who corrects my speech in front of others. I have told her that I don't appreciate it, but she keeps doing it. Yesterday, when I said, "Between you and I," she said it's, "Between you and me." I don't even think she's right about that, but it was embarrassing. What should I say to her?
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Several of us were sitting at lunch talking about salaries around here when our manager walked by, heard what we were talking about, and got all upset and said we will be disciplined if we continue. Can she do this?
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I am a volunteer for a public citizens' group. One of the rules is a dress code for male members to wear a coat and tie at all formal functions. One of our members began wearing a T-shirt at the formal meetings. Several of our members asked him to uphold our dress code or resign, but he has done neither. His attitude is that he didn't care how it looked or what we thought. Our foreperson wants nothing to do with the problem and ignores it. How can this issue be handled?
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There are eight of us on a safety committee, and we are supposed to make recommendations to make the worksite safer. One member of the committee, not the chairman, has taken it upon himself to send recommendations to management under the name of the committee, even though the committee never agreed to them. We have all spoken to him about this, but you never know what he is going to do next. What can we do?
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We are employed at a mid-size retail chain. We have a manager on site, and we are subjected to biweekly reviews by an area manager. We are a high-performing team and we always meet our goals. When the area manager visits, he sails in, rarely says hello, reviews invoices and such, and focuses on finding something wrong. The atmosphere is depressed and defensive when he's around. What do you call this form of management and how can we react in a more positive tone to his visits?
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My manager gave me my performance review in an airport lounge, in front of everybody, and I felt like a complete fool. When I told him later that I did not like being evaluated in front of an audience, his reaction was that they are all strangers, so what difference does it make. I am still very upset. What do you think?
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I am the manager of the accounting department at a large title insurance company. There is a title officer who has a history of angry outbursts, mistreatment of assistants, and verbal abuse of co-workers, regardless of warnings from upper management. He claims that people are yelling at him, so he yells at us. His behavior is abusive and against all company policies and harassment laws. I need some advice.
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I am the newest and youngest person in this small company, and on Fridays we all meet with the president. When I discuss what I have been doing, he always has a cutting little remark about me that he thinks is funny. My manager says to forget about it, but it bothers me. Should I say something to the president?
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I run a small department, and my manager scheduled an 11:00 a.m. meeting with me and two other department heads. At a few minutes before 11:00, I arrived at the meeting, but it was already going and the topic was focused on how to improve my department (which is running extremely well). I didn't know this was the topic, and I was incensed that they started without me, but I didn't say anything about it. Do I have a right to be annoyed?
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Our company is going through a reorganization and I am going to be working for a woman who is known to be on a major power trip. The word is that everything has to be done her way. Can you help me deal with her?
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How do you deal with a manager who sounds friendly and interested in the employees' ideas, but underneath this facade insists that everything be done her way? She uses all sorts of fancy management language, and she talks about employee empowerment, but it is nothing more than talk.
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The president of our company has a new administrative assistant who is power hungry, blocks our access to the president, and tells the managers what to do. Several of us told the president she is out of line, but he will not hear of it. What should we do?
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I have one manager who reports to me, and I work with her on a regular basis to make improvements in her department. We work well together, but when the two of us meet with my manager, there is a problem. The manager who reports to me makes it sound like she is the only one responsible for improvements in the department. I am reluctant to say anything to her or to my manager because I think I would look weak. How should I handle this?
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Whenever my boss comes around to my department, I have one particular employee who typically makes a comment that puts herself in a positive light and makes me look bad, and sometimes she's not quite truthful or does not give the full story. Do I lower myself to say something to her, or should I just let it go?
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When my manager asks me questions, I start to answer them and then he cuts me off and demands that I get to the point. I don't wander all over the place when I respond to him, and all the information I provide is necessary. What do you suggest I do?
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I have been through several managers under me, and I finally hired one who was doing excellent work for the past six months. However, on a recent assignment, I told her not to contact certain people because of confidential matters. I checked in with her later, and I was shocked to find she contacted these people. She said I was wrong to exclude them. What should I do?
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I am a volunteer coach for my ten-year-old son's soccer team, and I drafted my boss's son onto the team. I thought it would be fun, but it's a disaster. My boss keeps telling me where to play him and not to take him out. If I follow what he says, it's not fair to the other children, but if I don't, this might cause trouble at work. What do you suggest?
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We are looking for a junior person in our marketing department, and the company president referred the son of one of his friends to us. I interviewed him and found him to be marginally skilled and totally obnoxious. Under other circumstances, we would never hire him. I told the president about this, and he said to hire him anyhow. Should I hire him or go back to the president and push harder?
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I am new to management in this company, and one of the managers who reports to me has been here for about five years and has a lot of local knowledge. In a recent meeting with several other managers present, I made a point about policy that was incorrect. She then blurted out a correction in a very condescending tone. I told her afterwards that I did not appreciate this behavior, but she did it again yesterday. What's the best way to handle this?
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I have been with this company for less than a year, and many people have said that the most important person to please around here is the owner's wife. I had never met her until this weekend, and I don't think she liked me. I can't say why, but I just felt her comments and glances at me were ice cold. What do you think I should do about this?
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There is one person in our company who rarely responds to email sent to him. We all use email all the time here, and it is very frustrating when he does this. What is the best way to deal with him?
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I have a co-worker who is critical of my work, but instead of coming to me, he goes directly to our boss. The two of them are buddies, and I get nothing but grief from my boss as a result of this co-worker's comments. How should I deal with this?
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There is an employee in another department who complains to my boss about my work. Everyone here thinks this employee is a know-it-all, but my boss listens to her and thinks she has good ideas. Now my boss is giving me trouble over a recent assignment. At first she said I did a good job, but now that this other employee complained about it, my boss is criticizing it. What should I do?
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Our company owner's administrative assistant withholds information from the rest of us, and sometimes she'll provide it after we have completed an assignment. This means the work has to be redone because she did not give us all the facts. She is not our boss, but basic projects filter through her from the owner. If you question her, she complains to him, and then there's more trouble. How can we deal with her?
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I am a new manager here, and I was just informed that I am supposed to meet with my employees to discuss the goals that they have set for themselves for the coming year. I do not believe in this process. I am the one who sets goals for my employees because I know what is best for the company, while the employees are out for themselves. How can I get this point across?
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I travel about half of the time, and my manager occasionally accompanies me. When he does, he expects me to carry some of his bags. I have my belongings plus samples, and I do not appreciate having to carry his things too. How can I put a stop to this without upsetting him?
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How do I deal with someone who ignores my email? Whenever I send him a message, I hardly ever hear back. If I contact him later, he usually asks me to send my email again. I think this is a big power play.
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When one particular senior manager in this company gets upset, he uses a lot of profanity in his email. Several of us are offended and upset by this, but we are not sure what to do about it. After all, he is in senior management. He does not use this language in person. How do we get the profanity to stop?
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One of the employees who report to me is personal friends with the owner of the company and some of his family. My employee brings out this connection at least once a week, and I think she's doing it so that I won't discipline her or ever think of replacing her. How should I handle this?
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I asked my manager a question during a meeting, and she said I should know the answer to something as simple as that. I didn't think it was a simple question, and I did not like being put down in front of everyone. I still feel embarrassed and angry. If I go to her, I think she'll give me an even harder time, so how do I deal with this?
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At the end of a recent meeting, one of my co-workers blurted out that I have not been very effective in carrying out my responsibilities, so her work has suffered. I was caught totally off guard, and then the meeting ended. I spoke with our manager afterwards, but I don't think I had much of an impact. By the way, the employee later apologized for stabbing me in the back. What should I do now?
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My manager snapped at me in public and I snapped back at him. I know he's upset with me, but I'm not sure if I should let it pass and avoid turning it into a bigger issue, or if I should meet with him to discuss it. What do you think?
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I have a bright and competent person who reports to me, and she shows much initiative on the job. The problem is that she infringes in my area. She calls meetings with other departments, makes decisions that should have my involvement, and is quick to tell senior management that she is on top of situations that are my responsibility. I don't want to curtail her initiative, but I don't like what is happening here. What do you suggest?
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I have an employee who does her job well and is competent technically. The problem is that she is arrogant and condescending when dealing with people, and her job requires people contact. Many employees feel put off by her. I have tried to give her feedback, but she does not improve. What do you suggest?
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My supervisor enjoys kidding me, and he keeps saying that his remarks are all in fun. I do not like hearing his degrading comments, his repetition of the same annoying lines, and the so-called funny stories that he makes up about me. I was thinking about making some similar comments back to him and see how he likes them. What do you think?
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We write reports for our manager and carefully follow her guidelines, but she rewrites our work, saying that we are not giving her high quality. We think our work is fine, and she just has this thing about rewriting whatever is given to her. What should we do?
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We report to an individual who gives the most simplistic instructions on every project. All of us have to listen to his explanation of every detail, and once he starts talking, he stops listening. We are a sharp group of employees, but he just doesn't get it. How can we get this to change?
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I am a 27-year-old female, and I work with a senior researcher who is very well respected. The problem is that he pats me on the behind at least once a day and I can't stand it. I told a couple of other people who work here, and they said it is a cultural thing with him and it doesn't mean anything. Does that mean I can't do anything about it?
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We have a break room, and every time I take a break, there is a group of five employees from another department who always sit at the same table and they are so loud that I can hardly hear my friends who sit with me. One of the employees in the other group is a supervisor, and I politely asked him to talk a little quieter. He said he is on a break and can be as loud as he likes. What should I do?
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I am on a committee with three other managers, and we are analyzing customer service systems. In order to update the vice president of operations on our progress, we agreed that one of us would write a summary that would include comments from all of us. I had some important points that conflicted with those of the individual writing the summary, so he eliminated them and then emailed it. I am furious. What should I do?
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One of my fellow managers is known for putting other managers on the spot when they run meetings. I was recently conducting a meeting, and he started asking questions that had nothing to do with the topic. When I answered, he asked more. When he finally stopped, he had sidetracked the meeting for a good fifteen minutes. How do you deal with someone like this?
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Our manager has nicknames for many of us, and all of these names are different animals. We all find this to be childish and degrading, but we are reluctant to say something because he can get very upset. Should we just live with this, or can you suggest something different?
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On a recent assignment from my manager, I took a different and creative approach, and I thought the final result was better than anticipated. My manager was upset and said he is paying me to do my job, and not paying me to think. I was shocked and wonder if I should leave.
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Iím thinking of leaving my current job, and Iím wondering what I can do to assure the good work my boss has often praised is mentioned after I leave and a prospective employer calls for a reference. I have heard my boss rip into past employees. How can this be prevented, and how can I prepare my interviewer for this likelihood?
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I am cannot stand my manager who happens to be an owner of the company. He can be friendly, but he can instantly become mean and insulting especially in front of others. Whenever I see his name on an email to me, or whenever he wants to see me, I feel nauseous. I have tried to talk to him, but Iím never comfortable. How do you deal with someone like this?
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My manager has a troublesome habit of dropping into my office late in the day and giving me work that needs immediate attention. Iím sure some of this work can be given to me earlier, but he rarely does this. I cannot say ďno,Ē but what can I say?
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At a recent meeting, I was interested in the discussion, but I did not see a need to make any comments. After the meeting, my manager sarcastically thanked me for my important contributions. I did not know what to say or how to react. What do you make of this?
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My boss gave me a fairly basic project which I recently completed. I was at lunch with her and three of my fellow employees, and I happened to bring up this project, and she snidely said it was insignificant, meaningless, and not even worth looking at. I was embarrassed, but I did not lash back, even though I wanted to. How do you deal with a boss like this?
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We have a very good employee, but every time something does not go his way, he threatens to quit. We have been bending over to meet his needs, but now there is some resentment building toward him, not only from managers but from some of his fellow employees too. How do you deal with an employee like this?
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I work at a small organization and have a manager who frequently shows up late, skips or misses appointments, and leaves early. Because he is the founder and president of the organization, it is hard for anyone to hold him accountable. It embarrasses me to cover for him. What can I do?
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Whenever we have a department meeting, our manager puts me on the spot. If I make a presentation, he challenges me with impossible questions. If there is a discussion, he calls on me in the middle and asks a tough question. This is embarrassing and annoying, but I donít know how to get him to stop. What can you suggest?
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When we have department head meetings, one particular department head always takes shots at me. He does not make direct comments about my work, but he implies that I have failed. He is friendly enough between meetings, but that ends when the meetings start. How should I deal with him?
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We are supposed to make presentations at our department meetings, and there is one person who leaves me out of everything. When he hands out documents, he never has one for me, and he overlooks me if I have questions or want to make comments. I have not seen him do this to anyone else. What should I do?
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I meet regularly with my employees to discuss our work, and I have one employee who withholds information from me. When my manager asks me about projects in her domain, I usually donít have all the information, so he calls her. When I ask her why she did not give me all the information in the first place, she says I did not ask for it. How should I deal with her?
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I walked into the office of one of my employees, and she was on the phone. She was talking business on an issue that directly involves me, and I gestured that I wanted to know what she was talking about. She abruptly turned to me and said, ďThis doesnít concern you.Ē She then turned away and continued her conversation, and I walked out. What should I say to her?
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I am the only woman on a four-person educator team. I am a clinical social worker, and I get along well with all of the other team members, except one, the school principal. He tells people not to listen to what I say, he shared information inappropriately, and he provokes the children. I have called him on this behavior, ignored his arrogance, told my supervisor, and hired men because women cannot stand working with him. My boss thinks I am overreacting. What do you think?
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I recently reviewed one of my employees and indicated in writing the areas that needed improvement, while also indicating that there would be no raise unless improvements were made. Less than two months later, this employee demanded a raise and threatened to leave if she did not get it. Should I give in or risk losing her?
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My manager seems to have no respect for my work. When I wrap up a project, he makes a disparaging remark about it and says how unimportant it is. I know that my work is significant around here, and I am wondering if there is a better way to get this across to him.
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I am a supervisor, and sometimes I am a total jerk to my team. Many of my team members do not understand the immense pressure Iím under. It makes me a jerk when they do not do what I ask, or donít do it my way. I take their ideas into consideration, give credit when due, and incorporate their ideas, but I still come off as the jerk when I do this. The result is that people quit, or they just do what they need to do because they are afraid of me. Do I play the nice guy and under-perform, or be the jerk and keep up the success achieved so far? How do I fix this and avoid becoming the person everybody hates?
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At a meeting to address improving one department within the company, attended by three of our managers, another staff member and I, the staff member right from the beginning of the meeting launched a personal verbal attack upon me. One manager tried to stop it saying this was a personal matter that should be addressed by just the two of us outside of work hours. Yet the meeting continued with her slandering me and making damaging comments concerning my character and work ethics. One manager said it sounded like she was jealous of my special treatment and he went on to say special treatment occurs everywhere and with anyone and coworkers should not compare. What this staff member was jealous of concerning me is out of my control--it is mandated by my immediate manager due to the circumstances of my duty hours being different each day to accommodate our clients. Many of her insults directed at me were defended by two of my managers. Twice the third manager seems to endorse the other staff member's complaints so I professional gave my reasoning for my actions. For example, the staff member said I take to much time with clients and the third manager agreed, so I explained I felt I was providing thorough and needed information and letting them ask all their questions. Was this okay to explain/defend myself? This coworker was speaking with venom and even throw out mean things (like pointing out a medical condition I have). Should the managers have let this meeting continue when they could never keep her on the focus of the meeting because she kept attacking me?
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At a recent meeting, management used some words that I thought were questionable as they might have a negative impact on staff members. Words and phrases such as "gives a reason for people to snitch on others", "I hope future meetings won't result in violent arguments", and "one person complained and HE doesn't think it's fair" lead me to think that such language will make staff members feel intimidated from raising issues in fear of being called a "snitch" or that dissension amongst staff may rise now that the idea that there is a "snitch" has been implied. Also, it may create a sense of fear that violence is a potential issue at work between employees and that people that have raised concerns in private are now being identified openly by pointing out key characteristics. Is there an issue to be had with the type of vocabulary management is using?
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