Office coach: Worker must initiate healing with boss

Marie G. McIntyre
Tribune News Service

Q: My boss took away one of my responsibilities because I failed to meet a deadline. Unfortunately, I have no excuse to explain why I didn’t finish the project on time. I just didn’t. But I will say that we have had a rather heavy workload recently.

After this happened, my manager said she was shifting some of my work to another person because I have no sense of accountability. I felt so belittled that I just said “whatever” and walked out of her office. Although I really need this job, I almost quit on the spot.

Looking back, I suppose I should have told my boss that the project was behind schedule. However, I feel she should be more understanding because I am very good at my job. I’m still thinking about leaving, even though I truly love my work. What’s your opinion?

A: I think you’re upset with the wrong person. Failing to warn your manager about the project delay was a serious error. As a result, she had to deliver this unwelcome surprise to her own boss, who may have been equally unhappy. Whenever bad news becomes inevitable, management should be told immediately.

On top of that, when you finally did share this information, you apparently had no reasonable excuse for being late. So even if your manager overreacted, the changes to your job clearly resulted from your own bad judgment. Getting angry with your boss may be easier than accepting this reality, but it certainly won’t help your career.

If you try to retaliate by leaving a job you love, you will only be hurting yourself. A wiser course would be to rectify the relationship with your manager by apologizing for the missed deadline and assuring her that you will not repeat your mistakes. If you’re as talented as you say you are, perhaps she will consider reversing her decision.

Q: I am unemployed, but I can’t seem to get any interviews. I have begun to wonder if my employment history might be part of the problem. Although I am not a job-hopper, I do have a tendency to quit when I get bored or have trouble with office politics. What can I do about this?

A: I hate to break it to you, but quitting whenever work becomes tedious or relationships become difficult is the very definition of “job-hopper.” If your resume consists of a series of short-term jobs, potential employers will logically assume that you won’t stay around long, so talking with you would be a waste of time. Therefore, simply sending out resumes is unlikely to generate many interviews.

Instead, networking should become the centerpiece of your job search strategy, because a strong personal impression can overcome many concerns. When you do find a job, make every effort to stay long enough to show that you’ve broken your previous pattern. If you believe this may be difficult, perhaps a qualified career counselor can help you discover the source of your chronic discontent.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”

Twitter @officecoach.