Dr. Greg Ketchum responds
Dr. Greg Ketchum dubbed the “Frasier of the Cubicles” by the San Francisco Chronicle, is a former clinical psychologist-turned CEO and media career coach. He presides over an executive talent firm, providing coaching and recruiting for executives and Fortune 500 companies. A unique mix of psychology and coaching expertise gives Dr. Greg a great understanding of people and what it takes for career success. Combined with his keen insight into today’s job market, and infused with his trademark quick wit, Dr. Greg challenges Office-Politics readers to reach for career success on their own terms — and to have a good time doing it.
Was I wrong in speaking with the HR assistant? Am I right in not confronting the HR assistant about confidential conversations? I would appreciate any thoughts. I can take any criticism. Dr. Greg Ketchum ‘Frasier of the Cubicles’ responds: “Now we don’t know what actions the HR assistant took or didn’t take so we can’t really get into blaming her. It reminds me in a way of the story of the scorpion and the turtle (it might have been a river otter!). The scorpion comes up to the side of a river and wants to get across, but can’t swim, so it sees the turtle in the water and asks if it can ride across on the turtle’s back.”
Very unexpectedly, without any warning or indications that there were any problems with my performance, I was forced to go on one month’s leave… Dr. Greg Ketchum ‘Frasier of the Cubicles’ responds: “Like any good detective faced with a mystery we’re going to start by outlining a list of questions that we have about the situation, because on the surface this makes no sense. Before we can put together any strategy we’ve got to have a better understanding of what is really going on.”
We feel trapped in the middle and don’t know how to get out…It’s the equivalent of Mom and Dad fighting and dragging the kids into the middle of their mess. Dr. Greg Ketchum ‘Frasier of the Cubicles’ responds: “First, you must have incredible coping skills to have hung in there this long in the “mental ward” atmosphere that your manager and the assistant manager have created. Clearly you’ve managed to hang onto your coping skills, but it seems like your “power” skills have been ground down, and need recharging.”
I work in a government law enforcement office… Clerk “M” collects information on everybody openly and brings it to our superior. We are not doing anything wrong. It is the constant eavesdropping and spying that is unwanted. Dr. Greg Ketchum ‘Frasier of the Cubicles’ responds: “Well, you’ve really got my curiosity up on all of the intriguing elements of your story: the government, law enforcement, and a civilian spy with the code name “M.” If I’m not mistaken I believe that the head of British Secret Service and the boss of James Bond was code named “M.” Huh, I wonder if there is some connection? This could be much, much bigger than we believe.”
A 42 yr old married friend of mine is an owner of a restaurant who tends to flirt with some of his female employees. The flirting can at times contain sexual connotations… he feels that it is harmless fun that creates a playful environment that discourages turnover. He also sees it as a way to gain insight into these employees to be better able to “control” them. Dr. Greg Ketchum ‘Frasier of the Cubicles’ responds: “Now, let me look at another issue of concern you raise… I’m trying to think of the last time that I flirted with members of the opposite sex as a way of gaining insight into them “to be better able to ‘control’ them.” Huh, I’m thinking and thinking and oh I know: Never.”
The lead radiology tech has been dating a female radiology tech who is under his management… Dr. Greg Ketchum ‘Frasier of the Cubicles’ responds: “It sounds like things have gotten a little too casual in the endovascular unit: favoritism, nepotism, arguing radiology techs and patient care potentially suffering from it all.”
This person constantly throws her co-workers “under the bus.”… We are also dealing with the “halo” effect in this case, since her supervisor doesn’t hold her accountable. Dr. Greg Ketchum ‘Frasier of the Cubicles’ responds: “Sheez, this woman sounds like a regular Typhoid Mary! With a bouillabaisse of bad behavior such as this, it’s hard to know where to start. It is such a ‘target-rich’ environment I feel like a kid in a candy store!”
In our office protocol it is established that the “soups” or supervisors are the go between for us and the techs. However, I get emails from the techs… Dr. Greg Ketchum ‘Frasier of the Cubicles’ responds: “Being a former practicing psychologist I immediately recognized this as the “old double bind crazy-making-mixed-message-theory of how to make your employees nuts!””
Now 5 years later she is doing special projects for her and this person is going over my head to talk to my personal about issues or changes. Dr. Greg Ketchum ‘Frasier of the Cubicles’ responds: “Well, let’s talk about this young whipper-snapper and see what we can come up with that puts you back in the driver’s seat. As your Office Politics consultant I’d start by asking you a few questions…”
My question is, how do I sit back and ignore the office manager who is always chit chatting with a couple of the ladies in the office. Dr. Greg Ketchum ‘Frasier of the Cubicles’ responds: “My question is, why is your first question, “How do I ignore this behavior?” When there are a plethora of questions one could ask about this situation…”
I need advice on how to best avoid becoming a target… Dr. Greg Ketchum ‘Frasier of the Cubicles’ responds: “My, my, this is a bit of a sticky wicket. My guess is that no matter what you do or how graciously you handle the situation you will become a target of wagging tongues…”
Boris is rude, selfish, and wants to do things his way. He will openly argue with anyone who disagrees with his conclusions or methods. He refuses to work as part of our team… Dr. Greg Ketchum ‘Frasier of the Cubicles’ responds: “Your letter takes me back to the good old days of the Cold War, when we knew clearly who our enemy was and had long experience in dealing with the bad old Soviet Union. Sounds like this is the Cold War Redux in the Office…”
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