Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Stop Employees' Fights



Q.1 I manage a small company and have two excellent employees who work together. One reaches out for new business; the other works with the customers when they are in house. Their work is extremely effective, but they can't get along and it's disrupting our whole operation. They argue over silly issues, cause unnecessary problems and can't even be in the same room peacefully. I moved them into offices on different sides of the corridor, but that hasn't stopped the disputes. What else can I do?

Ans. It's going to take more than sending them to their own rooms, as you would with children. Remember no one is indispensable, so there must be someone in the organization who can be trained to do either one of those jobs. If not, hire someone. Since they both are excellent workers, move the other into a position of equal importance so these two may work without interacting. If that doesn't work, decide which one is least valuable, bite the bullet and let him go. Your company's efficiency should not be compromised by this distraction.

Q.2 I just learned one of my key managers was frightened by national gun violence and went to the police department, got a background check, took shooting lessons and now is "packing heat" in her purse. She was honest about it, telling management that she needs it for protection at home and in the streets of our city, which has a lot of crime, and feels safer in the event there is sudden violence here. I don't want employees carrying guns here. Do I have to check with state laws to prevent this? I own the company.

Ans. Since your name figuratively is "on the side of the building" you make most laws inside it. You can dictate that employees come to work dressed appropriately, behave in a manner that suits your corporate culture and not bring firearms into your building. You should, however, make employee safety a top priority. That may include secure locks, ID checks at the entrance as well as trained security guards. But that doesn't include allowing newly- trained shooters to bring their own guns. She is free to work elsewhere.

Q.3 My boss has just been indicted for illegal practices in the company and it's clear that's going to be the end of this place. It's just a matter of months before the doors close. I have a business plan ready that I prepared a few years ago but never could implement because it provides services similar to those provided by this company and I signed a "no compete for a year" clause when I took this job Do I still have to abide by it or can I get going to save my own skin when this place goes down?

Ans. You must have an attorney look at the contract , but the company had to abide by their promise too-to keep the company going-and they will have broken that. There will be no one to compete against. Also, someone indicted for illegal practices isn't in the best position to sue anyone. Start floating the business concept among close friends and possible investors, dust off the business plan and start moving. You already are making the best possible move when facing possible loss of job which is : "Start Looking for the Next One!!!!"

Q..4   I'm a woman in a male-dominated company and after ten years I haven't been promoted.. I'm an excellent worker, get great reviews, and some raises, but that's it. I'm extremely warm and nurturing to everyone and watch with envy as they are promoted over me  I wonder what's wrong.

Ans. You probably are one of the unfortunate women reared in old-fashioned families to think they were supposed to be warm and nurturing and mentor others without thinking properly about themselves. And that doesn't win promotions. Career Strategists Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath, and Mary Davis Holt, who co-authored Break Your Own Rules: How to Change the Patterns of Thinking That Block Women's Paths to Power insist it's time to change those old views. Here's how: Old view: Focus on Others, New: Take Center Stage; Old view: Seek Approval, New: Proceed until Apprehended: Old view: Be Modest, New: Project Personal Power; Old view: Work Harder, New: Be Politically Savvy.

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