Q. Ever since the holidays, my manager has seemed angry with me. This is extremely disturbing, because “Sandra” and I have worked well together for four years. In fact, she’s the best boss I’ve ever had.
Before Christmas, I asked Sandra if I could have three days off to spend time with visiting relatives. Company policy prohibits employees from taking vacation in December, because this is our busiest time, but Sandra agreed to make an exception. I was very grateful and expressed my appreciation.
When I returned, Sandra went on a tirade about tasks that I supposedly left unfinished. I was too stunned to defend myself, even though I had done the work. The next day, she pitched a fit about something completely trivial.
I kept waiting for Sandra to apologize, but she never did, so I made the mistake of complaining to another manager. Sandra found out, and we got into a heated argument. Now I don’t know what to do. Is there any way to fix this?
A. Unfortunately, Sandra is acting like an angry child instead of a professional manager. But since she’s the best boss you’ve ever had, don’t let one regrettable incident ruin a four-year relationship.
Despite giving her approval, Sandra apparently resented your making a request which violated company policy and increased her holiday stress. Instead of acknowledging her own mistake, she’s punishing you with unwarranted reprimands. Involving another manager just added fuel to the fire.
To encourage a return to normal, demonstrate your maturity by extending an olive branch. For example: “Sandra, we’ve always had a great relationship, but things have seemed tense ever since the holidays. I feel really bad about this, so I would like to see if we can put everything behind us and start over. Is that OK with you?”
Perhaps this gesture will inspire Sandra to finally offer an apology. But even if she doesn’t, reconciliation will be better than continuing this silly spat.
Q. I work with a woman who is truly evil. Her lies and accusations have previously driven four co-workers to quit. Our former boss tried to keep her in line, but he recently passed away. Now I’m afraid she’ll start manipulating the manager who replaced him. What can I do about this?
A. To counteract your malicious colleague’s influence, you need to develop a strong relationship with your new boss. The more he knows and trusts you, the less likely he is to believe any negative comments. Managers typically give much more weight to their own perceptions than to office gossip.
Q. Someone recently wrote you about her computer being used by a co-worker to send an inappropriate email. In our company, employees are required to lock their computer with a password whenever they leave their desk. I believe you should have recommended this practice in your answer.
A. Thanks to you and all the other readers who offered similar advice. Everyone should use this simple security measure to protect not only themselves, but also their company’s proprietary information.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”