Your Office Coach: No need to police peers for coffee breaks

 

The vice president of our group only works at this office in the
afternoon. In the morning, when he’s not here, the sales engineer
often goes to Starbucks for coffee. I’m the receptionist, so I know
when he leaves the building.
Q:

The vice president of our group only works at this office in the afternoon. In the morning, when he’s not here, the sales engineer often goes to Starbucks for coffee. I’m the receptionist, so I know when he leaves the building.

The vice president is a stickler about not wasting productive time, so I’m sure he would be outraged if he knew about this. The sales engineer’s boss is aware of these trips and even asks the engineer to bring back coffee for him and the office manager.

I would be reprimanded if I left to run an errand, so I don’t see why the sales engineer has this privilege. Should I tell the vice president, or am I just being petty?

A:

Step back from your irritation for a moment and ask yourself this question: Would ratting out the coffee hounds help your own career? Or might it have the opposite effect?

Keep in mind that the sales engineer is not only getting his own coffee, but feeding the habit of two managers as well. If you come between them and their special brew, they will not view you kindly. Making enemies in management is not usually a wise political move.

You should also consider that different jobs have different requirements. Because sales employees often have to work odd hours or be on call for customers, they are frequently given more flexibility. A good receptionist, on the other hand, must always be present to greet visitors.

Tattling on your caffeinated colleagues will only make you seem like a hall monitor, so my advice is to just let this go. And if you would like some refreshment yourself, simply place an order with the sales engineer.

Q:

My boss told me to always be direct with him. However, he has been avoiding me ever since I made some very frank comments about a serious problem. I have left notes asking to speak with him, but he ignores them. I don’t understand how a manager can be so childish. What should I do?

A:

The moral of this story is that employees should always be prudent and tactful when offering criticism. Managers may invite candid feedback, but they are only human and can get their feelings hurt like anyone else.

Your boss is behaving like a sulky kid, so you need to be the adult. Leaving notes will only compound the problem, so explain your concerns in person without expressing irritation or revisiting the controversial topic.

For example: “I’ve always felt that you and I could communicate well, but lately that seems to have changed.

“If I’ve done anything to create a problem, I’m certainly sorry. I just hope we can return to the kind of relationship we had before.”

Should your manager reply that nothing is wrong, just say you’re relieved to hear it, then drop the subject.

If you continue to be open and friendly, eventually your chilly boss will begin to warm up.

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