Got an awkward HR-related question that needs a no-nonsense anonymous answer?!
Then Ask Liz!
Ask Liz: How do I handle a rude colleague?
Dear Liz, I am finding it hard to get along with a new colleague. He is very rude, and is always swearing. Although it’s not always directed at someone in particular, and at times it’s in a jokey manner, I still find him bad-mannered and don’t believe it is appropriate behaviour for an office environment. Should I approach him directly about it or try to ignore it?
Ask Liz: I’m a new mother and struggling with work, help!
Dear Liz, I am just back from maternity leave and am finding it hard to get back into the swing of things. My child is ill and it is difficult for me to balance my work and home lives. What can I do if I have to keep taking days off when my child is sick? Do I have rights?
Ask Liz: My client is overpowering, help!
Dear Liz, I am an Account Manager at a very busy agency. We have just won another big client who is demanding and, more often than not, refuses to see any other point of view. I feel that my powers of persuasion are eluding me. Please help!
Ask Liz: How do I interview elsewhere?
Dear Liz, I am looking to move agencies because I am unhappy in my current role. However, where I work now is very hot on sick leave and I have no further annual leave left for this year. How then, do I manage to get out of my office to attend job interviews? Please advise.
Ask Liz: I enjoy being a manager but hate seeing a junior member of staff fail, help!
Dear Liz, as a manager I understand it is my role to guide and mentor the junior members of staff. However, a particular employee is not reaching her potential. I know she is talented, but she is failing at many tasks, and I can’t seem to get her to realise this. How can I address this tricky situation?
Ask Liz: I'm stuck in the middle, help!
Dear Liz, two of my co-workers have just had a big falling out. Unfortunately we all work within the same team, and it is starting to bother me that they haven’t sorted it out. They are not talking and pass messages and tasks to each other through me, which is time-consuming and is making me feel uncomfortable. I have had enough of being stuck in the middle but don’t want to cause more tension. How do I tell them I don’t want to be involved and try to get them to work together again?
Ask Liz: I'm finding it hard to lead a team as part of my new role. Help!
Dear Liz, I have just been promoted to Account Director in my agency, and while I’m glad of the responsibility, I’m finding it difficult to effectively lead my team and delegate to colleagues who used to be my peers. Do you have any tips on leadership without destroying friendships?
Ask Liz: Should I report a lying colleague to my boss?
Dear Liz, a colleague has started to take a lot of absences due to sickness and has confided in me that she is using these days to do personal things and is not really unwell. She has trusted me to keep this knowledge to myself, and I don’t want to ruin our working relationship, however I feel uncomfortable lying for her when people ask me where she is. It is also affecting my workload, as her absences mean I have to take responsibility for much of her work. Do I tell our manager I have concerns or speak to my colleague first?
Ask Liz: My new colleague and I have bad history, help!
Dear Liz, our boss recently told us we have a new colleague joining soon, who will be working alongside me. After finding out the name and employment history of the new starter, I realise it is somebody I clashed with at an old place of work, which is one of the reasons why I chose to leave. I don’t want to make anything uncomfortable within the office when they start, but I know they will remember our history. How do I tackle facing up to them and trying to build a new relationship, when the old one is so damaged?
Ask Liz: How do I handle inappropriate expense claims?
Dear Liz, one of our company's executive PA's has confided in me about inappropriate expense claims from the team she manages. Her line manager and another executive team member claim for social and even some personal expenses including cigarettes and team drinks after work. She has heard from a fellow PA that her senior line manager has also claimed for personal expenses involving their family. When we live in a world of austerity, and pay rises have been frozen, I find this hugely unprofessional, and uncomfortable to know. It’s tantamount to theft. How should one approach this issue?
Ask Liz: How do I handle a flirtatious colleague?
Dear Liz, A colleague from another department has recently begun to make me feel uncomfortable. He is constantly coming to my desk, distracting me from my work, saying inappropriate things, and sending me flirtatious emails. I have mentioned I am not single but it doesn’t seem to deter him, and I can tell other people in the office have started to gossip and assume things. How can I tactfully tell him that I am not interested, without causing problems and hostility in the office?
Ask Liz: How much do I need to socialise with my colleagues?
Dear Liz, I have recently joined a young and dynamic agency where there is a large emphasis on after-work drinks. Although I have attended a few of these, they are becoming so regular that I feel pressured into attending in order to build and maintain relationships. I have other commitments in my personal life and am finding it hard to balance the two, along with late nights. I do not want to seem rude and unsociable by declining, but I am not getting any time in the evenings to rest and unwind, especially as my commute is much longer than most of my colleagues’. I’m also worried this will soon affect my energy levels at work, what can I do?
Ask Liz: I have my boss in Secret Santa - help!
Dear Liz, this is the first year our work place is doing Secret Santa and I picked out my boss’ name. I am completely stuck with what to get him. Do I go for something humorous (as it will stay anonymous!) or stick with something safe such as chocolates?
Ask Liz: how do I tell my colleague her behaviour is embarrassing?
Dear Liz, I have been at my agency for about 9 months now and the working environment has a very young, buzzy feel to it. It is great fun, but recently, a new girl started who is extremely loud and rude and tends to put people down. This is having a detrimental effect on our working atmosphere. How can we go about asking her to tone down her behaviour without hurting her feelings and affecting office morale?
Ask Liz: do I have time management issues?
Dear Liz, I appreciate that we work in advertising, a dynamic, fun and busy industry, but sometimes my hours are so long that I wonder if I am doing something wrong. I always seem to have more work than everyone else and am more often than not the last one out of the building at night, being left to lock up. Do I have time management issues? Or is this a work load issue? I feel if I don’t get it sorted soon I will work myself into the ground, what can I do to change this?
Ask Liz: I want to pursue a career in advertising, what can I do to get ahead?
Dear Liz, I'm a second year student studying law but I intend to pursue a career in advertising, in particular commercial ad work. I'm currently undertaking work experience in a media company and a shoppers agency, but I’m wondering what else I can do to get ahead? Are my skills transferable? I've decided to try and teach myself Photoshop and a video edit suite (wax), but is there anything else I can do? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Ask Liz: I made a mistake at work and feel I am no longer trusted by my colleagues. Help!
Dear Liz, I was recently working on a big project and I made a mistake and sent out a block of emails to the wrong recipients which resulted in an increased work load for my team and meant we also did not make our deadline. I was devastated and apologised profusely to my team but now the dynamic in my office has changed and I feel like I am no longer trusted by my colleagues. Everyone makes mistakes and I will forever by plagued by this one, but how can I go about reasserting my position and gaining my team’s trust again?
Ask Liz: how do I get the credit I deserve?
Dear Liz, I have always wanted to work in advertising and last year I secured a place on a graduate programme at my agency. I have learnt so much and am really enjoying it but I have started having problems with someone on my team who keeps trying to pass off my work as their own. I don’t know how to tackle the issue because I don’t want to cause problems or friction in our small team. How can I go about getting the credit that I deserve?
Ask Liz: I dated my colleague but don’t fancy him…
Dear Liz, I recently went on a date with somebody in my agency and while we had a nice evening I realised that I really don’t fancy him and I don’t want to go out on another date with him. He keeps emailing me asking to go out for a coffee or lunch and I don’t know what to do. How can I avoid going on a second date without making things extremely awkward when I see him at work. To make it worse he told all his friends and some of our colleagues so people in the office have been talking about it. I really don’t know what to do, please help!
Ask Liz: how wild can I go at my Christmas party?
Dear Liz, I have my agency Christmas party next week and I was wondering what the general etiquette is for these events? I’ve heard that past parties have been really fun but I do not want to make a fool of myself in front of the whole company. How should I act?
Ask Liz: how can I be a good mentor?
Dear Liz, recently a new person started at our agency and I am acting as their mentor. I have been in my role for over a year now and I am very keen to help them settle in and quickly find their feet. However, it is as though they see me as competition and act very secretive with other people in the office. We are working at different stages in our career and are in no way threats to one another, how can I explain this to them?
Ask Liz: how can I get a promotion?
Dear Liz, I’ve been in my role for over a year and a half now and am looking for ways to progress my career. I started at the same time as someone else in my team and they recently got promoted. I feel really disappointed that I have not also been promoted and am wondering what to do. My manager is aware that I want to move forward and be successful, I am hard working and love my job but I feel as though I am being held back as opposed to encouraged to move forward. What should I do? Should I look to move elsewhere as I feel I am not appreciated at my work place, or would I be cutting off my nose to spite my face?
Ask Liz: I am stressed beyond belief, help!
Dear Liz, work has been extremely busy recently, and while I thought I was keeping on top of things, I'm finding myself getting more and more stressed. I also find that I am unable to switch off after a day's work and tend to take the job home with me. I am starting to feel disheartened and am worried that the stress will impact my work. I love my job but am just finding it hard to balance the work load with also having a normal life outside of work. Is there anything you can suggest to help me manage my time and the stress of work?
Ask Liz: I have a fear of presenting, help!
Dear Liz, I will soon have to perform a presentation in front of my whole agency and am scared witless about it. As well as getting nervous and having a general fear of public speaking, I am especially worried about the Q&A session that will follow and that I will not know the answer to a question and thus embarrass myself in front of all my peers. I have researched the topic I am presenting on thoroughly but cannot shake this feeling that I will be humiliated and mocked. How can I calm my nerves?
Ask Liz: will my manager halt my career?
Dear Liz, there has recently been an opening in my agency that I want to apply for. I am worried that this will annoy my manager and afraid that it will put a strain on our relationship, especially if I am not successful in getting the job and have to continue to work together with him. I am not sure how supportive my manager would be and I do not want to leave my agency but am simply interested in this new role so I want to give it a go. Will I be shooting myself in the foot if I apply?
Ask Liz: my manager's attitude is negative, help!
Dear Liz, I have recently started working with a new manager who I have been unable to warm to. I love my job but my manager’s lack of enthusiasm and negative approach is starting to affect my motivation and passion for my job. I do not want to bypass him and speak to the senior manager in fear of making things uncomfortable or jeopardising his role but how can I change the atmosphere in our office?
Ask Liz: my colleague is unprofessional, help!
Dear Liz, our new team assistant works really hard and produces really good work, but she has a very informal manner - often dropping swear words into her conversation / talking to the senior management as though they're her friends, etc. What can I do to make her act more professionally, without taking away her friendliness?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to have your HR-related questions answered by Liz.
Liz Nottingham is Chairman of the IPA Talent Strategy Group and HR Director at Starcom MediaVest and VivaKi Country Talent and Transformation Officer.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and were submitted in accordance with the IPA's terms and conditions regarding the uploading and contribution of content to the IPA's newsletters, IPA website, or other IPA media, and should not be interpreted as representing the opinion of the IPA.