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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Bad Career Move

Dear Sue: I am an executive secretary and have worked for the same person for 15 years. He is the CEO of the company, and I truly enjoy working for him.

About a year ago I moved into a management position and now I supervise 20 clerical employees. Unfortunately, I've had nothing but problems with my staff. They can't seem to get along, they frequently call in sick, there is excessive tardiness, and I am amazed at the things they do and say. They act as though we owe them something.

I've been told that I will need to let a few of the clerical staff go by the end of the year. I have at least five people in mind, but I'm not sure if I'm able to be objective because the people who come to my mind are the ones who have given me the hardest time.

I really don't think I am a good fit for management, and for the first time in 15 years I've been thinking about leaving the company. I believe I'd rather leave the company than tell my boss I don't want to supervise anymore.

At this point in time, I know I wouldn't regret leaving due to the management headache, but the part that will hurt the most is leaving my boss. At times I wonder if I care too much. Do you have any suggestions for me?

- Loyal Employee

Sue Says: I am trying to figure out why you would rather leave the company than tell your boss that you are unhappy in your current position. After all, you've had 15 good years with this company, and have a great relationship with your boss. Unless you want to want to leave and feel you can use this problem as an excuse, you do have other options.

If it's the supervisory role you dislike, be honest about it. Not everyone is cut out for management nor would most people acknowledge their own shortcomings. I commend you for being honest with yourself.

It is possible that your boss will offer to move you into a position that suits you better or he may offer you some help or offer additional training to make your job easier.

I suggest you have an honest talk with your boss and tell him how you feel. It is a compliment to him that you value him as you do, and I am sure he would hate to see you go. By being honest with him, the two of you will have a better chance of finding the right solution. Don't make any decisions until you have talked with your boss. In your case, honesty is the best policy.

Dear Sue: I am writing to you to ask about a career change. I have a degree in human services and have worked in the field for 12 years. I am burned out, and feel it is time to make a change. I've decided to enter an entirely different field and am considering secretarial work. I think I will enjoy it and I need to get away from dealing with other people's problems.

I like working on computers and have good organizational and people skills. Do you think that this would this be a bad step for me to take? I don't know if I would be messing up my resume by going from human services to administrative support types of jobs. I don't think I'd lose much in pay, as human services pay has been very good. I am very nervous about making a change, but I believe I need to do something different. Please give me some feedback.

- Sharon

Sue Says: Make the change! Even if you don't end up as happy as you hope to be, you will never know if you don't try.

View change as an opportunity to grow and experience new things. After staying in the sane field for 12 years, I can't imagine a switch at this point could do anything to harm you or your resume.

No one is holding you back but yourself. Follow your desires and make a change -- even if you don't find what you want immediately, it will be good for you to learn about other industries and to discover more about yourself.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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