Q.Seven months ago, when I took my current job, I inherited a staff of five.
One of the five, I recently learned, had applied for this position while it was open. Apparently she was told she needed more experience.
Now she seems to be out to prove that she should have gotten my job. She is constantly grabbing credit for projects she didn't do. For instance, she recently sent a memo to our CEO informing him of the department's success on a particular project.
The fact is that, while she worked on this project, I spearheaded it. She is perfectly pleasant to me whenever we come in contact, but she is terrible toward me behind my back.
Last week, I overheard her bad-mouthing me to one of my peers in another department.
I kept thinking she would mellow out over time and that coming down hard on her would only make her more bitter. Now I know I have to do something. But what?
A.First of all, examine the nature of your own concerns.
Are your employee's shenanigans harmful to your group's work or are you concerned that she will eventually undermine you?
If you are worried about the latter, relax. Moves like the ones you describe are very transparent and are likely to hurt your employee, not you.
Nevertheless, when an employee actively engages in activities that are designed to downgrade his or her supervisor, everyone around probably feels uncomfortable. So for this reason alone, such activities should be discouraged.
Whenever she acts in an inappropriate manner, call her on it right then and there.
Tell her, for instance, that her letter to the CEO was wrong because it made it appear that she had more to do with the project than she actually did.
If you find her bad-mouthing you, ask her if she has any critical observations to offer and that it would be far more constructive if she offered them to you instead of to others.
Keep this up for a while. If the incidents continue, you may need to raise the stakes by pointing out the destructive effect that the accumulation of such actions has on your group.
Q. Please help. There are a couple of people in my office who constantly pop their chewing gum.
Several people are very offended by this, but there is no one who wants to tell them how offensive their habit is.
I don't think these people realize how loud, rude and inconsiderate their conduct is. I plan to hang up your reply on the bulletin board at my company.
A.I really don't believe that this is the way to solve problems between you and your co-workers, but perhaps it is the holiday spirit that moves me to make an exception:
Hey, people! Please stop popping your gum in the office. I have it on good authority that you drive several of your co-workers up the wall.
Andrew Grove is chief executive of Intel Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., and an author and lecturer on management. Please send questions to him in care of the San Jose Mercury News, Business News Department, 750 Ridder Park Dr., San Jose, Calif. 95190.