Lynne Curry

Q: I work in sales. The economy is sluggish and I know layoffs are coming. I can’t afford to lose my job, and to keep it, I need to be upbeat every day. The problem -- I’m married to an emotionally abusive husband and stay with him for the sake of my kids. He stomps around the house every morning cussing out everything and everyone, including me. I feel like I’ve been through the wringer before I leave for the office at 7:30. Once I get to work, I try to put a smile on my face, but it’s hard. This morning, I snapped at a customer who was being difficult. My boss pulled me aside and asked, “What’s up? You’re not yourself.” I didn’t dare answer that “myself” is an abused woman. My co-workers also ask questions when they see me on edge, and I pretend I’m OK, because I’m afraid that if I let...Lynne Curry
Q: I’m the newly hired human resources director for an Alaska Native corporation and faced with a situation that has no easy answer and no good solution. I supposedly enforce our corporation’s code of conduct and oversee the human resource issues in all our subsidiaries. Our most successful subsidiary is managed by a bully who runs roughshod over his employees. I won’t be popular if I argue for him to be fired but if I keep my mouth shut, I turn a blind eye to what he’s doing. Here’s what I want to know. Can bullies change their ways? A: Some say bullies can’t change. That’s not true. Bullies can change -- though often they won’t. Bullies can turn on or off bullying behavior. In many organizations, bullies kiss up and kick down, presenting a charming, often subservient facade to senior...Lynne Curry
Q: I’m stuck in a dead-end job but don’t have time to spend searching the want ads. I thought I’d accelerate my chances of new job by letting an employment agency search for me. When I filled out the agency’s intake form, however, the worker pulled me aside and let me know they have a contract with my employer that requires the agency to notify them if one of their employees signs up for job-seeking services. Is this even legal? I’m guessing that if my employer finds out, I’ll be fired by the end of the day, and I’ve heard this has happened to others who used to work for my company. I don’t know what to do. My employer uses every employment agency in Anchorage, so am I out of luck? If they all have this contract, I won’t be able to sign up with any agency without risking being fired. In a...Lynne Curry
Q: One of my top employees, “Mary,” was rear-ended at a stop light three months ago and suffered from whiplash and excruciating headaches afterwards. Mary took off work, got help from a physician and chiropractor and returned to work. After her return, Mary worked short days and frequently complained of neck pain. I asked her several times if she wanted to continue on half days, but she said she was running out of paid time off and needed to get back to full-time work. Then, things got better. Mary seemed back to normal, said her headaches had gone away and I thought all was well. Several weeks ago, however, Mary’s co-workers began coming to me, saying they were worried about her. All they could tell me was that she seemed “off” and instead of going to lunch with them, stayed in her...Lynne Curry
Q: Our employer regularly asks us to fill out online surveys through SurveyMonkey, and says they’re anonymous. Are they? If we fill them out at our work stations, they’re linked to our computers. How is that anonymous? A: Although online surveys can provide anonymity, they don’t always. Since our company regularly administers such surveys for our clients (we use the popular SurveyMonkey platform, too), I asked our team how they -- and your employer -- can guarantee anonymity to individuals responding to such surveys. “The person who creates the survey makes crucial decisions when developing and administering the survey that totally impact responder privacy,” says Marcus Bobbitt, a management consultant here at The Growth Company. “Collection methods determine the confidentiality...Lynne Curry
Q: Soon after I started a job as an HR generalist, my new peers came to me saying, “I don’t envy you, your boss is evil.” During my hiring interview, this boss had told me, “Your predecessor loved her job, but quit suddenly for personal reasons.” I soon learned he’d lied, that my predecessor had cried in the bathroom on a daily basis before she quit. Unfortunately, this evil boss is the director of HR and the person in charge of any complaints an employee has with a manager. He’s also the CEO’s golfing buddy. Our organization has huge turnover. Four employees left during my first two weeks of employment. Not believing my new boss was evil, and wanting to help my new employer, I said I’d love to start a retention program. My boss told me to do the work I’d been assigned before I started...Lynne Curry
Q: Our organization is in charge of remodeling a facility for an organization that serves disabled people. We recently held a client briefing outlining our plans and experienced an awkward incident. One of our representatives came into the room to meet with the client group and was shaking hands until he realized that the man next in line had a deformed hand. At that point, our representative stopped shaking hands and didn’t know what to do. We’ve asked our contact person at the agency for guidance and were told, “Act normally and treat all of us as you’d like to be treated.” We understand this idea, but think we should still apologize. How do we do that without adding to the embarrassment? Also, what else should we look out for? For example, we normally present a detailed PowerPoint...Lynne Curry
Q: My first day on the job, I exited the building at the same time as the woman I was replacing. As I wished her well in her new job, she said, “You seem like a nice person. Whatever you do, don’t cross Heather. And if you do, get out before she destroys you like she did me.” As I stood there shocked, she said, “You don’t understand now, but you will.” I wish I’d listened. Heather befriended me, and in hindsight I realized she cultivated me to be one of her group of hangers-on. Heather was bright, funny and almost flirtatious with me, though I knew she was straight because she had a husband. While she had a sharp, cutting wit, I didn’t find it a problem as she mostly poked fun at our supervisor and an overweight woman in reception. Then she said I brown-nosed the supervisor and turned on...Lynne Curry
Q: My boss figured out I was job hunting during the work day. I don’t know how he discovered this as he’s normally clueless. I think someone ratted me out. I was afraid he was going to fire me on the spot, but he told me he was going to “take pity” on me and give me two weeks’ notice. I think he’s just keeping me around until he hires my replacement. I feel totally uncomfortable because I’m not sure who blew the whistle on me or who to trust. And it’s hard to concentrate now that I know I’m about to be without a job. Is there anything I can do to get him to relent? I thought of reminding him that lots of people look for jobs while they have one and letting him know I wouldn’t do it again. I also want to know who told on me. A: Relent as in keep you employed at a job you planned to leave?...Lynne Curry
When you see risk, do you back away? If so, what does it cost you to play it safe? The price of security Given the choice between a sure thing and a higher risk/greater reward alternative, most of us choose what’s safe. We hesitate to put ourselves or our careers on the line. We go with the flow and say “it’s not so bad the way things are.” We consider what could go wrong and let potential consequences stop us, even if they’re not probable. We come up with excuses. In our hesitation to travel outside our comfort zone, we forget that the real risk might be things staying the same, and having our work lives stagnate or grow smaller, rather than larger. We sell ourselves out, underestimating our ability to handle what might happen if the risk brings challenges our way. Perhaps you need to...Lynne Curry

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