Q: Let me just say that I hate working with the public. When I took my current job, my manager said I would be doing data entry and filing. Since then, however, I have been assigned to work the front desk several times a week. I love entering data and don’t mind filing, but I despise dealing with the rude, pushy people who come into this office.
I must be a pretty good actress, because my manager always says that I’m great with customers. I’ve never told him that they drive me absolutely crazy. To get away from all this interaction, I’m thinking about taking a course in medical coding or billing. Does that sound like a good plan?
A: Like many people, you selected a position that matched your personality, only to see it morph into something entirely different. While some folks might actually prefer difficult customers to a steady diet of data, the change has obviously made this job a bad fit for you.
You are certainly to be commended for making an effort to treat visitors well despite your strong negative feelings. That’s not an easy act to pull off. But even if no one ever notices the pent-up anger behind your surface cordiality, maintaining that charade has got to be exhausting.
The stress of feeling one way and acting another is not sustainable for long, so you’re wise to start looking for a less interactive job. But before shelling out cash for a training course, take the time to explore a variety of options. In the rush to escape a bad work situation, people often make impulsive decisions which they later come to regret.
Q: “Jeff” and “Amy” both work for me. Recently, I made the mistake of telling Jeff that I was unhappy with Amy’s performance. He repeated my comments, and now Amy is justifiably angry. How can I recover from this screw-up?
A: First, kudos to you for recognizing that managers should never discuss one employee with another. But if you also failed to tell Amy about these issues directly, then you owe her both an apology and some feedback.
For example: “Amy, I want to apologize for discussing my concerns about your work with Jeff instead of talking to you. That was inexcusable, and it won’t happen again. However, we do need to figure out why your project is behind schedule.”
Your lapse in judgment, while unfortunate, does not exempt Amy from a necessary discussion about her performance issues.
Dear Readers: With very mixed feelings, I need to let you know that this will be the last Your Office Coach column. For 13 years, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about your workplace challenges and offering possible solutions. Your stories about horrid bosses, aggravating co-workers, frustrating job searches and other career dilemmas have helped countless others who are dealing with similar problems.
Unfortunately, both work and personal demands have made it increasingly difficult to find sufficient time for writing. My views on many career topics can still be found on my website at www.yourofficecoach.com. Questions can also be submitted there, and I will try to personally answer as many as possible. I do hope you have enjoyed reading this column as much as I have enjoyed writing it. — Marie McIntyre