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Send your questions and concerns to Dr. Marie McIntyre. Marie has more than 20 years experience in coaching, human resources, and management.  She writes the syndicated column “Your Office Coach”, which appears in more than 70 newspapers nationwide. Marie has authored two books and serves as a workplace expert for the National Institute of Business Management.  (Due to high volume, not all questions can be answered, but Marie will respond to as many as possible. Your question may be reprinted online or in the newspaper column unless you request otherwise.)

Coaching Q&A

How should I handle an upset employee?

I was recently stunned when one of my employees began complaining about my leadership style. “Jim” said he wanted to talk about a project, but he spent most of the time criticizing me. To avoid getting angry or defensive, I just listened to his comments without responding.

Because Jim is the team leader for our group, I have always trusted him and relied on him heavily. I thought we had a good working relationship, but he apparently feels that I’m not an effective manager. He has never mentioned these concerns before.

My boss says Jim was just venting, and I shouldn’t worry about it. However, I feel betrayed, and I’m not sure what to do next.

Marie’s Answer

Your resentment and irritation are completely understandable, so kudos to you for controlling those emotions. But now that you’ve had time to calm down, you need to find out exactly what triggered Jim’s verbal assault.

If you dismiss his comments as “just venting”, these unresolved issues will eventually resurface. So get a grip on your feelings, put on your manager hat, and initiate a follow-up discussion with your unhappy team leader.

For example: “Jim, I wanted to discuss some of the issues you raised during our last meeting. I was quite surprised, because I had no idea you felt that way. However, now that I’m aware of your concerns, I would like to develop a plan for resolving them. What are some of the changes you would like to see?”

Rehashing previous events will inevitably produce arguments, so focus on the future, not the past. For instance, if Jim accuses you of micromanagement, don’t request examples. Instead, ask where he would like more autonomy, then consider making reasonable changes.

If this meeting goes well, just chalk up Jim’s previous outburst to situational frustrations. One bad episode shouldn’t ruin a good relationship.

NOTE: Questions on this page have been edited for length, grammar, and confidentiality.  All material on this website is copyrighted to Marie G. McIntyre.  All rights reserved.

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Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D.

Marie McIntyre has more than twenty years’ experience in career coaching and organizational development. She has held management positions in both business and government, including Director of Human Resources in a Fortune 500 company.

Marie writes the weekly syndicated advice column, “Your Office Coach”, which appears in newspapers throughout the U.S. & Canada.  She also writes a monthly Career Commentary for CNBC.com and serves as a workplace expert for Business Management Daily.  Marie conducts webinars on a variety of topics related to leadership development and career success.

As a consultant, Marie has assisted a wide variety of organizations, including Cisco, The Home Depot, Tyson Foods, the Federal Reserve, AT&T, Walgreens, Macy’s, and Habitat for Humanity. She has experience in working with business, government, and non-profit groups.

Marie is the author of two books, “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics” &“The Management Team Handbook”.  She is frequently quoted in business publications, including Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.