If her motivation is unclear, the simple solution is to ask.

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Q: One of my employees repeatedly makes comments about how hard she works. This happens almost every day. Why do you think she does this?

A: The most important question is whether you agree with her assessment. If so, then one wonders why she feels the need to keep reminding you. Perhaps she’s implying that her workload is too heavy or that she would like some time off. She also might be fishing for a compliment because she’s feeling unappreciated.

But if her motivation is unclear, the simple solution is to ask. For example: “Mary, I’ve noticed that you often mention how hard you’re working. I certainly agree that you’re a hard worker, so I’m wondering if there’s something you’re trying to tell me.”

On the other hand, if this employee seems to be overestimating her level of effort, then you may need to clarify your performance expectations. Her definition of hard work could be quite different from your own.

Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.