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Articles filed under Miller, Karla L.

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  • How to handle moody bosses Aug 18, 2013 6:54 AM
    I avoid interacting with my boss because he is so moody. My boss is horrible about approving vacation requests. I’ve had a few vacation requests sitting in his queue for more than a month. I’d like to book flights soon, so I can’t just wait for him to get with the program. He should just look at the calendar and either grant it or say, “Sorry, someone has that day off already.” It’s not that difficult.

     
  • Work Advice: Potty clarity in the office Aug 11, 2013 6:49 AM
    A longtime employee in our federal government office was “Bob” and now is “Barbara.” When it was time for Barbara to start living as a woman, she spent a year using a designated unisex bathroom with only one toilet. After a year, she began using the women’s multi-stall bathroom in preparation for her sex-change operation. Under federal policy, Barbara is using the “gender-appropriate bathroom.”

     
  • Work Advice: Is the photo in your email G-rated? Aug 4, 2013 7:38 AM
    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers.

     
  • Work Advice: When a good boss goes bad Jul 28, 2013 7:24 AM
    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers.

     
  • Work Advice: How to deal high calorie events at work Jul 21, 2013 7:50 AM
    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers.

     
  • Work Advice: Ask me no favors, I'll tell you no lies Jul 14, 2013 7:53 AM
    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers.

     
  • Work Advice: ‘Biz With Friends’ is a dangerous game Jul 7, 2013 6:37 AM
    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers.

     
  • Work advice: Should med school dream be deferred? Jun 30, 2013 7:06 AM
    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers.

     
  • Work Advice: When HR goes off the rails Jun 23, 2013 6:30 AM
    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers.

     
  • Advice on handling problems at work Jun 16, 2013 7:18 AM
    Surface problems in a workplace can usually be resolved between sensible individuals. Systemic problems require painful, large-scale intervention by management or external forces; without that support, workers are generally limited to hunkering down or fleeing.

     
  • Work Advice: Freelance doesn’t mean free Jun 9, 2013 6:32 AM
    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers.

     
  • Work Advice: Unlinking from unwanted connections Jun 2, 2013 6:00 AM
    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers.

     
  • Work advice: Which comes first, business or pleasure? May 19, 2013 10:04 AM
    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers.

     
  • Work advice: The benefit of office bereavement policies May 12, 2013 6:02 AM
    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers.

     
  • Is dream job worth harassment? May 5, 2013 9:17 AM
    Q: I just got my dream job a week ago as executive assistant to the managing director of a business. I will also do special projects for the business owner, who is well known in the local music industry. On my second day of work, when my boss was out, the owner asked if I would like to see a music video he had made. He proceeded to show me a video of himself receiving oral sex. He then told me it would be best if I did not share this with my boss. Of course, I told my boss, who included me on a call to our outsourced HR department. During the call, my boss mentioned a former intern at the business who had left prematurely; it was clear to me she left because of something the owner had done. My boss, a father himself, seems to be very protective, and has insisted the owner come in only two days a week for now. The owner has been extremely respectful toward me since then. Is there anything else I should do? I want to keep this job, but I am on a three-month probationary period and want to protect myself. A: Would your “protective” boss make his own daughter spend two days a week hanging around a viper? Because that’s essentially what he’s doing to you. Make no mistake: That Ron Jeremy wannabe is a sicko. This isn’t about telling an off-color joke or misinterpreting a situation. His behavior is predatory and clearly a pattern. You’ve done all the right things so far. If you want to go further, talk to an officer at your local police station about the possibility of pressing charges — yes, I’m serious — and how you can protect yourself. Document the incident and anything else the owner does that makes you uncomfortable. Ask your boss if he can change your job so you don’t have to report to the owner. Employment attorney Sharon Snyder of the Ober Kaler law firm says your employer has taken the legally required “appropriate corrective action” by putting a stop to the behavior and not retaliating against you. But neither of us thinks that will end the matter. The owner is behaving now — five days later, as of your letter — but one rap session with your boss and off-site HR is not going to fix what’s wrong with his wiring. In fact, Snyder is concerned that the owner will try to fire you once things settle down. Personally, I think getting fired should be the least of your worries. You have the right to stay in this dream job, but I frankly can’t imagine any dream being worth the vigilance you will have to maintain to protect yourself. Ÿ Miller has written for and edited tax publications for 16 years, most recently for the accounting firm KPMG’s Washington National Tax office. Send your questions to wpmagazinewashpost.com. You can also find her on Twitter, @KarlaAtWork.

     
  • Work advice: The price of not socializing Apr 28, 2013 7:11 AM
    Q: At my current job, I made it clear early on when invited to happy hours that I do not drink. My body can’t tolerate alcohol; it is not within my control. It then became clear that this was a problem for the other employees and supervisors. Now, I don’t get invited out at all, and many of the other employees at my level get assignments from the drinking supervisors that I don’t get, get cut tons more slack and are treated more favorably. I am purposely left off the emails, or not asked along even when I am sitting in the office as they are getting ready to go. I only know what is going on because one of the other associates, whom I get along with, has told me. That, and it is all over their Facebook pages. I know all business requires some level of this type of socializing, and I love to go out, talk, go to happy hours — I just don’t want to drink. Throughout my career, this has always been a problem, and I feel it has held me back. What should I do? A: In certain professions and cultures, boozing is a bonding rite, and I’m unfortunately not aware of any discrimination protections for teetotalers. But I wouldn’t say “all business” requires you to get soused to get ahead; otherwise, there would be a lot more 25-year-old CEOs with gout. My first impulse is to wonder how you’ve “made” your abstinence “clear” to your co-workers. An abrupt “I don’t drink” sends a different message from a low-key “I can’t drink” -- and if you have a gussied-up soda in hand, words should be unnecessary. If someone is trying to shove a beer into your other hand and not taking “Thanks, but I’m good” for an answer, there are ways to demur without being labeled Captain Buzzkill: “I’m driving” or “I’m cutting back.” I’m not normally a fan of subterfuge, but such responses work well for recovering alcoholics and secretly pregnant women when full honesty would be irrelevant and potentially disruptive. But none of that will fool your current co-workers, who know all too well that you Do Not Drink. So, see if that friendly associate can get you invited past the velvet rope. Once your colleagues realize that you are not judging them (right?) and want to socialize, they may start inviting you — especially if you’re occasionally willing to play designated driver. If your sobriety continues to be a handicap, perhaps your workplace is suffering from a maturity deficit (party pictures plastered on Facebook) or you’re in the wrong line of business (“Throughout my career, this has always been a problem”). A change of scene may be worth a shot. Ÿ Miller has written for and edited tax publications for 16 years, most recently for the accounting firm KPMG’s Washington National Tax office. Send your questions to wpmagazinewashpost.com. You can also find her on Twitter @KarlaAtWork.

     
  • When a carrot feel more like a stick at work Apr 21, 2013 8:18 AM
    Q: Two months ago, I was promised a promotion at work. I have yet to see a title change or salary increase. My boss told me my promotion has been approved, but, because of turmoil in other departments, organizational changes and a tight budget, I need to wait. I don’t think he should have promised it to me in the first place. I’ve been fed lines about how I need to build my reputation with some new responsibilities first so that other departments will respect me. While I’m miffed and losing motivation, I want to stay for the promotion so I can build skills I need to move on to another position elsewhere. I’ve taken on more responsibilities on top of my regular duties and will be taking on even more once this promotion happens. How do I firmly ask for this promotion to take place? Can I ask to be compensated extra for those months that I was told I was getting this promotion? A: Two possible interpretations: 1. The boss is dangling a carrot to wangle extra work out of you. 2. The boss is telling the truth about the promotion, turmoil, budget and building your reputation. Either way, my advice is the same: Act as though you already have the title. I don’t mean start bossing people around or spend your nonexistent raise upgrading your wardrobe. I mean start thinking about projects you’d be managing or changes you’d like to make. Then start developing skills and relationships that will help you meet those goals. It’s not unheard-of for promotions to take months or for candidates to prove themselves by taking on a temporary extra burden. If it becomes obvious that you’re never getting your teeth on that carrot, you can always start looking elsewhere — with a resume fattened with your newly acquired experience. Of course, if you see promotion just as a means to an exit, go ahead and demand it, plus retroactive pay for the waiting period. That should force a quick decision from your boss — but probably not the one you’re hoping for. Q: Annual drive for a large charity is at hand. My company “encourages” donations and distributes pre-filled donation forms. Last year I was asked seven times. I feel I should not have to explain why I don’t donate, or list who I do contribute to. One colleague gives $5 to get them off his back. That feels like a wimpy way out to me. A: “Thanks, I’ve already been asked” with a smile — then turn back to your work. Polite, enigmatic and discouraging of further discussion. And give poor Five Buck Chuck a break; his response is equally valid. Ÿ Miller has written for and edited tax publications for 16 years, most recently for the accounting firm KPMG’s Washington National Tax office.

     
  • Work Advice: How to handle negative references Apr 7, 2013 6:30 AM
    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers.

     
  • Complain if chemicals at work bother you Mar 31, 2013 5:30 AM
    Q: Recently my department moved to a different work space, and I’ve been sitting in a cubicle two feet from a large-capacity printer. Almost immediately, I noticed the constant smell of toner and chemicals, which has given me daily headaches. I have never raised a fuss about anything at work and am generally a conflict-avoidant person. But breathing in chemicals 40 hours a week is not OK with me. The easy fix would be to move me (not possible at the moment) or the printer to another location. It’s not even my department’s printer. I’ve talked to people, trying to find a solution -- they don’t know where to move the printer, and, of course, others don’t want it next to their cubicles. The administrator agreed to turn off the printer temporarily. I’ve felt much better, but I have no idea what will happen next. To make matters worse, while the printer is off, people in the department assigned to that printer are now having to walk a bit farther to another one. They complain to people in my department and confront me about it. I stand my ground politely, but I’m flabbergasted as to why this is such a big deal. Any suggestions on how to respond? A: “I dearly regret the inconvenience I’ve caused you,” in your wheeziest Victorian-heroine-perishing-of-consumption voice. Your perambulation-averse co-workers may think the pain is all in your head. I don’t. Regarding indoor air quality, the federal agencies devoted to occupational health and safety have noted that office equipment can release chemicals known as volatile organic compounds, which may be irritating or even toxic, depending on concentration and length of exposure. The good news, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), is that the concentrations generally found in office work environments fall far below limits set for industrial exposure. Furthermore, a chemical’s odor doesn’t necessarily correlate to health risk. But it sounds as though you are sensitive to whatever concentration of chemicals the printer is emitting. So don’t back down. Direct your boss to information published by NIOSH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, get checked by a doctor, and keep (politely) making a stink until this is resolved. You might want to try enlisting the gripers in your cause. When they confront you, say: “I’ve asked about moving me away or moving the printer closer to you, which would solve both our problems. But I’m being told that’s not possible. You’ll have to ask (whoever can get this fixed) about it.” With luck, the company will buy them a low-emission printer. Then, they can turn to griping about learning to use it. Ÿ Miller has written for and edited tax publications for 16 years, most recently for the accounting firm KPMG’s Washington National Tax office.

     
  • Work advice: In office-space disputes, resistance is feudal Mar 24, 2013 6:33 AM
    Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers.

     
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