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

Poor Review

Dear Sue: I am the office manager of a small branch office. I started out as a temporary employee and am now a full time employee. Almost half of the people in this office have commented positively about the many changes I've made to help the office run more smoothly. 

You can imagine my surprise when I had my review last week and my boss told me that I haven't shown enough initiative. In fact, the entire review was bad with the exception of one compliment he gave me about my computer skills. 

I was given a raise of 50 cents an hour, and am not getting a bonus check. When I was hired I was told that I would get an increase in my salary and receive the pay I wanted after my first review.

I've spoken to several people about this and no one can understand why my boss was so negative. I've started jotting down different things that I have accomplished over this past year and plan on requesting that this be added to my review record. 

I have put myself entirely into my job and I love what I do, but I am not sure how to proceed. What can I do? I'm more upset about his comments than I am about the insulting pay increase and find that this is affecting my attitude. Please help. 

- Shortchanged

Sue Says: I wonder how you responded to your boss at your review. Did you tell him how much you love your job and inform him of the many things you have accomplished? Did you remind him of the commitment that was made to increase your salary after the first review?

It won't do you any good to complain to coworkers and write to me unless you are willing to take your concerns to the source of your irritation -- your boss.

No one, except your boss, can tell you why he feels you haven't shown enough initiative. Perhaps his expectations are different than yours or maybe he doesn't know about all of the things you have accomplished so far.

You are doing the right thing by writing down your accomplishments, but don't wait until the next review to present them to your boss. Show him that you are able to initiate things by initiating another meeting with him and discussing the issues that are so important to you.

Dear Sue: A salesperson in our organization recently completed a major project. He benefited greatly from this project, and invited a few key people from our accounting department to be his guest at a celebratory lunch.

The people who were included in the celebration wrote on their timesheets that they expect to be paid for the hour they spent at the lunch. The additional hour kicked their weekly time to over 40 hours, so the one-hour lunch has turned into overtime as well.

We've decided to pay it without challenging the matter because it isn't worth the potential damage, but we're wondering if we are being taken advantage of. Do you think it's right of them to expect pay for the time spent at a free lunch? 

- Wondering

Sue Says: My initial response is similar to yours and I, too, wonder if you are being taken advantage of. It's hard for me to understand why these people feel they should be paid for accepting and enjoying an invitation to a free lunch. However, without hearing the reasons for their expectations, it is difficult to know what their thought process was.

Perhaps they felt obligated to attend the lunch or assumed because it was work-related that they are entitled to be paid. Unless you ask you will never know.

It wouldn't hurt to let them know you were a little surprised that they expect to be paid and that you are planning on paying them to avoid any hard feelings, but would like to know what their thought process was. In addition, if you want to avoid this in the future, let them know where you stand and what your policy is. 

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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