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Lynne Curry

Q: I love Christmas and giving gifts, but this year I’m feeling I’d like to be as much of a Scrooge as other employees. Last year I gave thoughtful gifts to my boss and co-workers. I gave a beautiful china platter to one woman, a handmade children’s blanket to a man with a small child and similar gifts to others. Other than my boss, only one person gave me anything, a CD so tacky I threw it away. While several said “oh, thanks” as if they deserved a gift but I didn’t, most didn’t even bother to say thanks...

Lynne Curry

Q: One of my co-workers began texting me three months ago. At first, I was flattered because he had a reputation for being standoffish and hard to get to know. After a while, our texting was how we both got through the day.

Our texts became personal. I care for him and he’s told me many times I’m the only one who understands him. When he has something important to tell me, we go out for a smoke and take a walk around the parking lot. On a walk last week, he told me he dreams of killing the man who manages our office. When he could tell he’d made me nervous, he told me he was just joking. That afternoon, he texted me that he counted on me never to betray him...

Lynne Curry

Q: I work as a personal trainer at a small local gym. I also have a membership there and work out on my own time with a small group of people I train with. Recently, the company owner decided to bring in a nutrition product and told all of us that we had to sell it. It was network marketed via a pyramid scheme.

I researched it and didn’t like what I saw, nor did I like that the owner was trying to use the other employees and I for his personal benefit. I was told if I didn’t support the product I’d lose my job. When I asked what this meant, I learned I couldn’t voice my doubts about the product. I also learned I’d have to pay a signup fee to sell the product, and it would only be reimbursed if I sold $3,000 of the product in six weeks...

Lynne Curry

Q: I hate my company’s weekend Christmas party. It’s not that it’s isn’t nice on the part of my employer, it’s that I have shopping, wrapping and Christmas decorating to do and a lot of other parties I’d rather attend than one with people I interact with every day. Worse, I pay a heavy price for dragging my husband out to socialize with people he has nothing in common with.

Because I’m the office manager, I have to organize the party and listen to all the other employees bitching that they have to attend or be called “non-team players.” Worse, I’m on duty during the party, making sure no one gets carried away drinking free liquor and steps over the line sexually or piles into a car and gets into an accident on the way home...

Lynne Curry

Q: When I got hired at a major oil company, my supervisor told me “Stevie” would orient me. I was prepared to like Stevie; she was pretty and seemed smart and classy.

Stevie didn’t waste any time telling me I wasn’t the applicant she would have hired. When I asked her why not, she told me it was obvious, that I came from a small, family-owned business and so didn’t have the requisite level of corporate experience the position needed. I told her I knew I could learn if she’d teach me. She just raised her eyebrow...

Lynne Curry

Q: Our company needs more business and I asked “Stan,” my most social media-savvy employee, to create a company Facebook page.

I saw this as a simple handoff and told Stan he could spend work time creating the page and then no more than 90 minutes each week to update and monitor the page.

This morning one of my senior employees pulled me aside and asked if I knew what I was getting into. He then showed me some of the posts Stan had on his personal Facebook page. I was appalled.

I sat down with Stan and asked him to show me what he’d created thus far. We wound up arguing. Stan angrily told me if I want to create a boring page that never grabbed attention, I picked the wrong employee.

Is there a way to resolve this?...

Lynne Curry

Q: Two months ago, our board hired an operations manager. We’d grown from eight to 30 employees, and when our office manager retired, we decided we needed a professional to manage our billing, accounting, insurance, record-keeping and personnel systems.

The other partners and I have been pleased with the OM. She’s experienced in operational areas and is charming, dynamic and charismatic. Within her first 10 days she provided us a list of deficiencies that stunned us. Without her, we would have been in severe jeopardy. We need her...

Lynne Curry

Q: I was recently recruited onto the board of a small, struggling nonprofit. The situation scares me, in large part because my fellow board members want to hide their heads in the sand.

Six months ago a staff member blew the whistle on the nonprofit’s CEO, who’d embezzled more than $50,000. Volunteers who supported the nonprofit took the necessary steps to replace the former board members who allowed this to happen...

Lynne Curry

Q: I work in human resources and am supposed to fix problems -- unfortunately, one of them is our company’s general manager. He’s a bully and doesn’t know it and wouldn’t believe it if I told him. He is, however, the biggest problem in our company. How do I tell him so he believes it and without getting fired?

A: Manager bullies rarely see themselves as bullies. Instead, they see others as the problem and make statements such as “you’ve got to kick people to get them going.”

Bully managers live in a feedback vacuum because peers don’t call them on their behavior and subordinates don’t voice concerns, fearing they’ll be fired...

Lynne Curry

Q: One of our long-term employees is a hypochondriac and a hysteric but great at her job.

In September, when a severe viral respiratory illness infected thousands of children in Colorado, she bought hand sanitizers for everyone’s desk and quarreled with those who didn’t regularly use them in her presence.

The Ebola death in Dallas followed by the nurses' illnesses recently sent her over the edge. Yesterday another employee showed several co-workers photos taken by his father who recently returned from an African safari. “Cari” saw the photos, heard the word Africa and immediately left the workplace. She then texted me saying she wouldn’t return until her co-worker was placed on leave and he and his father had medical examinations...

Lynne Curry