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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

The first time Wayne barked at Annette, she raised an eyebrow and asked, “Bad day? You’d prefer I come back later?”

“Now’s as good a time as any,” he snarled. “You people push for this and push for that. You think you’re the only people who count. What’s this f---ing email you sent?” Annette got up and left his office.

Wayne sent her a stormy email, which she forwarded to her supervisor, Wayne’s supervisor and Human Resources. The next day, a chastened Wayne responded with the information Annette had requested...

Lynne Curry

Q: I’m the chair of the board for a high-profile nonprofit organization. Our executive director is a task-oriented, “take no prisoners” individual. In the last year, he’s managed to tick off many board members, and we’ve had a high level of staff turnover.

I like our ED because he gets results. The employees who left needed to go, and our ED had straightened out many of our organization’s funding problems. He’s given our board the first accurate financial statements we’ve received. The other board members, almost all women, like the results the ED produces but accuse him of “caveman” methods...

Lynne Curry

Q: When I returned from lunch last week, my manager stopped me from going to my office and ordered me into the conference room. When I asked, “What’s up?” he refused to answer, but instead brought in the human resources manager. Together they interrogated me, asking me questions that led me to realize they’d looked through my personal iPad.

I asked point blank if they had looked at my iPad and they said they weren’t answering questions, but were asking them. They said since my iPad was at work in my office, I apparently used it during the workday. I said this was an assumption, that I preferred not to leave it in my car and had full right to use it on my lunch hour. They said since I’m exempt, my lunch hour could be considered work time...

Lynne Curry

Q: When I read the Alaska Dispatch News article about the man fired for talking to the media about the brawl at his employer's birthday party, I wondered if I have a wrongful termination lawsuit.

I got fired for voicing my opinion about my supervisor at a Saturday night party to a friend who worked for one of our company's clients. I didn't say anything that wasn't true. Tuesday morning I got hauled in and fired. My boss didn't even ask me to explain the situation; he just told me I'd talked negatively about our company and he didn't want me around...

Lynne Curry