Lynne Curry

Q: I was laid off last week, as were two-thirds of those who worked for my former employer. These layoffs happened without notice. We all received pink slips midday Friday and were told we were paid until the end of the day. Big whoop. I worked for this man for three years. I gave him and his practice 110 percent and he told me he considered me his “right hand.” Despite this, I couldn’t convince him to address things that needed to change. When I told him my concerns, he assured me he wanted to do the “right thing” and would “get around” to making improvements. I believed him but he never did. The problems stacked up and led to the downfall of his business. On the one hand, he got what he deserved. On the other hand, what happened to his business, into which I poured my time and effort,...Lynne Curry
Q: My immediate supervisor works in Anchorage and I work in rural Alaska. Although I’m the lead program coordinator for our work group, I have no real power. Everything has to be signed off on by my supervisor. Although my main job is providing direct care to our clients, because I’ve been here the longest, I’m also the individual charged with ordering supplies, processing travel requests, and placing ads when we need new employees. This leads to confusion. My teammates assume that when they need something, I’m the one they go to and I can make it happen. I can’t; I don’t have that authority. This week, one of the team members needs an OK to travel. I processed the request two months ago. The OK hasn’t come through yet and she’s supposed to fly out on Sunday for a once-a-year conference...Lynne Curry
Q: After I terminated an employee for low performance, he began texting several of my employees and me. His texts say he got a raw deal and that we’d all “better watch out.” He also accuses me of impropriety and threatens that unless I “come clean,” he will go to the authorities and tell them everything. He says he kept records and I’d better “watch my back.” I have no idea what he’s talking about. Should I respond and try to see what he’s upset about and if I can calm him down? A: Print these text messages and contact the police. Although this man appears to primarily target you, his “better watch out” message could mean physical danger for others in your employ. As a manager, your job includes protecting your employees and yourself from harassing conduct, whether it comes from inside or...Lynne Curry
Q: On my first day of work, “Kevin” approached me, dishing the dirt on my new supervisor. I immediately thought, “What a jerk.” Kevin told me he was giving me the “lay of the land” for my own good. After that, he came into my office several times each week, always closing the door behind him so we wouldn’t be overheard and always when our boss was out of the office. I wasn’t sure how to take what Kevin told me, but I listened just in case there were kernels of truth. According to Kevin, our supervisor was an insecure woman who was ruining the morale he and other employees had enjoyed under the previous supervisor. Several weeks later, our boss convened a staff meeting. Kevin sat across from me and winked at me each time our boss announced proposed new regulations for clocking in and out,...Lynne Curry
Q: Others had told me “Paula” was cutthroat, but I hadn’t believed it until I became her prey of choice. I’d had my first warning when I’d walked into my office after a 10-day vacation and saw all of my carefully arranged project files disheveled. I asked the administrative assistant to tell me who’d been in my office. She told me that Paula had “needed” some material from my desk, “discovered” a few “undone” assignments, and then gone to our mutual boss and offered to help. Paula was nowhere to be seen. That’s when I learned she was with one of my clients. Next, I visited our boss and he told me he’d been “disappointed” to learn I’d left projects unfinished, that Paula had “jumped in to help” and in the process had learned that several key clients were “a bit” unhappy with me. I asked...Lynne Curry
Q: I run a small business that’s barely making it. Like many other businesses, our biggest cost is payroll and we need all hands on deck. When I returned to the office from a meeting last week, everyone was huddled around one employee’s iPad. She’d downloaded and saved the Facebook video posted by the man who’d shot two former co-workers on live television. I wanted to shut this time-wasting down but everyone was too upset by the video to concentrate so I allowed some discussion. Afterward, I pulled the woman who’d brought the iPad in and told her from now on to leave her iPad in her car trunk. “I can’t,” she said, “my husband drops me off every morning.” “Then, leave it at home,” I said. At this point, she burst into tears and said she needed her iPad to do her night class homework at...Lynne Curry
Many ask “why do organizations allow bullies and other managers to treat employees miserably?” The answer: Research documents that a bullying management style can yield short-term gains even if it does churn and burn employees. Those of us who doubt it need only to look at our favorite retailer. Tens of millions of us know Amazon as an easy way to get merchandise delivered quickly. In July, Amazon eclipsed Walmart as the world’s biggest retailer. Amazon’s success comes at a price. In August, two New York Times reporters interviewed more than 100 current and former Amazon employees and documented Amazon’s dark side, alleging that the major retailer was “conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers.” Here’s what the article revealed about how Amazon’s hard-driving...Lynne Curry
Q: I was walking down the hallway when one of the supervisors yelled, “You’re needed in here,” and gestured for me to go into our copier room. I entered and saw our easily intimidated administrative assistant looking like she wanted to be anywhere but in that small room. “What’s up?” I asked, moving toward her. The male supervisor, who is 6 foot, 2 inches in height, slammed the door behind him and stood in front of the room’s only exit. He advanced toward me, shaking his finger at me and said, “You are not invited to the meeting.” “You just asked me in here.” “This meeting,” he said, shoving a memo at me. He was talking about an interdepartmental function. I told him that I had no intention of attending, but had asked the administrative assistant to cc: me on the Outlook message so I...Lynne Curry
Q: The powers that be have promoted me twice because I can handle Bill, an in-your-face bully. I now run a department, and our department’s success depends on how we interface with those who work for Bill, who are as boorish as he is. I’ve succeeded because I don’t let Bill rattle me, regardless of his antics, nor do I let Bill or his employees insult those who work for me. I’m the buffer. Bill’s now trying a new tack. He pretends I don’t exist. When I present my department’s perspective at staff meetings, he acts as if I haven’t said a word. When I visit him in his office because we have projects to discuss, he gives no indication I’m talking to him. If I stop him in the hallway and speak, he walks away, to the amusement of those who work for him. I don’t run after Bill, but I do email...Lynne Curry
Q: I run a small public relations firm. When I advertised for a new hire, I didn’t find anyone who had the right skill set. “Will” applied. Although he lacked the skills I sought, he interviewed well and said he was willing to learn everything necessary to become my No. 1 employee. I took a chance on him and invested months in training him. He shadowed me, developed rapport with my key clients, and learned strategies I’d spent 20 years developing. We had one skirmish. When he found out how much I was paying his predecessor, he lobbied fiercely for a raise. Although his work didn’t justify the salary I was already paying him, he had good natural talent and I didn’t want to start over with a new employee. I gave him a raise that was more than I felt he was worth. Despite this, he resented...Lynne Curry