Q. Our office team lead is a control freak who keeps all the interesting work for herself. “Angela” and I are both senior medical secretaries in a large hospital. Ever since my assigned doctor left three years ago, I have been given only menial tasks like copying, filing and answering the phone. Angela, on the other hand, continues to support the two remaining physicians.
Since we now have only two doctors, one of them should have been passed on to me. However, Angela obviously decided to keep all the important duties and give me the tedious clerical work. I am bored stiff with this job and hate coming to work every day. What can I do about this?
A. Your frustration with this unexpected downgrade is certainly understandable, especially since more challenging work appears to be available. However, I believe your anger is misplaced. While Angela may enjoy having more complex tasks, it’s unlikely that this decision was hers to make. Team leads seldom have that kind of power.
When your assigned physician departed, management had to determine what to do with your position. Logical options would have included laying you off, assigning you to someone else, or creating a new job. Although Angela’s input may have been considered, this decision was undoubtedly made by the doctors and the department head.
You say one of the doctors “should have been passed on to me,” but that’s only your opinion. Because people typically hate changing assistants, the physicians themselves may have insisted on maintaining the status quo. Or management may have simply considered this to be a more efficient arrangement.
Regardless of the reason for your frustrating reassignment, the irony is that you are alienating the very person who might be able to help. If Angela viewed you as a supportive colleague, she could choose to involve you in interesting projects or suggest that your responsibilities be expanded. But if she senses your hostility, she isn’t likely to promote your cause.
Your circumstances won’t improve unless you develop positive relationships with the people above you. This starts with your team lead, because the people who control your job get feedback from her. However, three years is a long time to be bored, so if the situation seems hopeless, remember that you always have the power to take your talents elsewhere.
Q. One of the male managers in our department frequently sends emails to a group of female employees. He always begins these communications with the salutation “Girls,” which seems demeaning and inappropriate. Should we discuss this with human resources?
A. This guy must be a relic from the 1960s, because that’s the last time anyone thought it was appropriate to address mature professional women as “girls.” I seriously doubt that he begins his communication to male employees with “Boys.”
Because this outdated terminology could be used as evidence of a discriminatory corporate culture, involving human resources is quite appropriate. After providing copies of the offending emails, ask the HR manager to educate this dinosaur about proper 21st-century communication.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”