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Lynne Curry

Q: "Steve's" resignation three months ago took me by surprise. He'd always told me how much he loved his job. Then one day he walked in with a resignation letter dated the prior week and said he was leaving by the end of the week because he'd been offered a "dream job." When I asked him why he wasn't giving us two weeks' notice, he said his new employer needed him and he'd given them his word the prior week.

I'd always respected Steve, and he'd told me many times in the eight months he worked for me that I was a great manager. Still, in his last week, he screwed up every assignment, trashed me to his co-workers and voiced a number of made-up grievances. By the time he walked out the door I thought "good riddance."...

Lynne Curry

Q: As a shareholder, I was thrilled to get hired as a management trainee by my tribal organization. Shortly after I made it past my probationary period, our agency’s deputy director encouraged me to apply for a senior position, one in which I’d write grants and oversee contract compliance.

When I hesitated, saying I didn’t have enough education to handle the job’s duties, he told me I had the right stuff, would be a fool to turn down the chance for more money, that our organization wanted shareholders in leadership positions, and that he’d get me the training I needed. I applied for and received the promotion. A day later, his daughter got the position I vacated. Apparently she had been the No. 2 choice when I’d gotten hired...

Lynne Curry

Q: Three months ago, my employer asked me to establish LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. I couldn’t believe my good fortune in getting paid to create and maintain a social network.

Although I created a somewhat sedate LinkedIn profile, I followed everyone’s advice to let my personality shine through on Twitter. At first I had a lot of fun with Twitter and followed as many feeds as I could. I was excited when the individuals I followed in turn followed me. Soon I was up to 400 followers...

Lynne Curry

Q: I moved to Alaska to escape my past. I’ve moved like this many times before. I look for a small company that doesn’t check references and get a job. Then, it happens. Someone in the workplace won’t stop asking me questions. No matter how I try to deflect this person’s curiosity, they ask ever more probing questions.

When they realize they can’t get information out of me, they dig using the Internet. Ultimately, they learn I was married to a man formerly on a terrorist list who fled the country...

Lynne Curry

Q: I’ve worked three years for our branch, first as a salesperson and then as the sales manager. When I started to burn out on sales, I told our company’s CEO I wanted to move into operations and he said he’d move me up as soon as he could. Last week, our branch manager unexpectedly resigned and I got the promotion.

I need to decide who to hire or promote into my place as sales manager. “Anne” is the logical choice. She’s our highest-producing sales agent and a true go-getter...

Lynne Curry

Q: I oversee three departments in a company without an HR officer. Our project coordinator is a wizard with spreadsheets and a stickler for details. Without him we’d be a ship run amuck.

He’s also an odd duck. I’m glad he’s out of sight of our customers because his appearance takes getting used to. He has manicured fingernails, plucked eyebrows and sometimes wears face powder. He’s also moody and rude. He walks away from co-workers when they’re talking to him and stares off into space without listening during staff meetings. When I’ve asked him about this he says, “If the topic doesn’t interest me, it’s a waste of time.”...

Lynne Curry

Q: I’ve worked for a retail chain for seven years, since high school. During my first six years, I worked part-time and went to college, taking mostly night classes. During that time, I received excellent performance reviews and many employee of the month awards. After I received my BA in business management, my company accepted me into its management trainee program.

Because I was in a support role and our general manager supervisor understood my commitment as a Christian who believes Sunday needs to be set aside for church and individual worship, I never worked Sundays. He didn’t consider it a problem as I willingly worked 60-hour workweeks and met all expectations and other trainees willingly worked Sundays...

Lynne Curry

Q: I handle marketing for a large engineering company. Our owners are engineers and not managers. As a result, no one runs things when people problems occur.

To produce proposals, I need to coordinate with two individuals, a department manager and a project manager. Both are bullies and have made my work life a living hell for three years.

When I ask them for materials or concepts for the proposals, they refuse to answer my emails or meet with me, saying they’re too busy.

When I visit their offices to ask them questions, they scream at me that I’ve been around long enough to know the answers.

When I make up proposal content and they read the final proposal, they curse me for misstating key concepts...

Lynne Curry

Q: I’m a new business owner and supervise my first employee, a young man who pushes endlessly for “perks” even as he displays a lack of work ethic by packing up his things before 5 and texting during the work day.

I could fire him and hire someone new, but I might get someone just as bad. I sense he has no idea how I or any other supervisor would read his behavior. How do I turn this around?

A: The answer you seek lies between his ears. What motivates him? If you find that out, you may be able to get what you want, a motivated employee.

Managers waste both money and time when they ignore the employee mind, the least understood component of employee productivity. Starting from day one, each employee forms answers to questions such as:...

Lynne Curry

Q: I’m the only male employee in a large oil patch company’s accounting department. Although I have a ten year history of positive performance reviews and a generally good relationship with prior supervisors, I’ve always had a testy relationship with a coworker. When our former supervisor resigned four months ago, she was stepped up to acting supervisor and officially given the title a month later.

Since she took over our department, I’ve had a target on my back. She wrote me up for quarreling with her when I simply disagreed. When I protested the write up, I was written up for yelling...

Lynne Curry

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