Your Office Coach: Keep trivial complaints to yourself

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Marie G. McIntyre

Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 3:21 pm, Wed May 21, 2014.

Q: I am trying to decide whether I should bring up certain issues during my upcoming performance review. My boss works in another location, so I don’t get many chances to talk with him, and a private phone conversation is impossible in our open office environment.

My first concern involves the staff biographies on our company website. Our manager submits these summaries whenever someone is hired, but I noticed that some have been updated to include recent family events and accomplishments. When I checked my own bio, however, I saw no mention of my children’s activities. This was quite hurtful and upsetting.

The second issue relates to some football tickets that our boss received from a client. Instead of inviting the staff to attend, he shared them with several other managers, which seems very inconsiderate. Do you think I should discuss these concerns during my review?

A: The answer is a very emphatic no. These issues have nothing to do with your work, and they have absolutely no place in your performance review. Besides, using the appraisal as a platform for criticizing your boss would be a really stupid career move.

Your assessment of these events is not exactly rational. Since your manager can hardly be expected to keep up with everyone’s personal life, the staff profiles were undoubtedly updated at the request of those employees. As for the football game, his decision to invite management colleagues was in no way inappropriate.

The real issue here is your apparent tendency to take things personally and get upset about trivial matters. Extreme hypersensitivity not only damages relationships, but also uses up emotional energy that could be put to better use. So instead of giving feedback to your boss, perhaps you should take a long, hard look in the mirror.

Q: My manager has assigned me to work with a difficult person who happens to be my cousin. “Andy” comes in late, takes frequent smoke breaks, and makes a lot of errors. I believe he is taking advantage of our relationship, so I would like my boss to pair me with a different co-worker. How should I approach this?

A: To keep your manager from dismissing these concerns as a family feud, you must be careful to focus on the business issues.

For example: “In working with Andy, I have found that he wastes a lot of time and doesn’t seem to care about quality. Because we’re cousins, he ignores my feedback and expects me to tolerate his goofing off. I believe Andy might work harder with a different partner, so I wondered if you would consider changing our assignments.”

Hopefully, your boss will see the logic in this proposal. But if you and your cousin remain together, just focus on your own work and don’t cover for him. If he continues his slacker ways, Andy’s tenure is likely to be brief.

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