Monthly Archives: May 2007

I am a female director in a small creative agency. Over the years I’ve had a succession of PAs who were either thick or unreliable, but finally I have a good one. However, there is one thing wrong with him. Whenever I say anything even slightly critical he cries. Mostly he doesn’t start blubbing, but his eyes fill with tears and he looks flustered.
At first I found this embarrassing but increasingly I find it enraging. He may not mean to be manipulative, but I feel manipulated – I can’t raise the matter with him as I’d get the full waterworks. The situation is further complicated by the fact that he is gay. I feel that by confronting the tears I would be branded as homophobic. I think I already (unfairly) have a reputation of being a tough bitch and don’t want to make it worse.

I am the CEO of a large US company. I have recently received an anonymous letter containing some controversial information about one of my directors. According to the letter he has been buying sex services of an extreme and raunchy nature. The evidence includes some incriminating photographic material so I am assuming it is genuine. This director is a trusted and talented member of my team. He is well liked and well respected in the company. What he has been doing is legal, has been done in his own time without any implications for his work. I believe strongly that an individual is entitled to a private life. However I am exceedingly concerned that if this were to get out it would impact negatively on the reputation of our company.

The chief executive of the company where I work has just been fired. He was my mentor, and under him I have been rapidly promoted to a senior position. The new chief executive is someone I’ve worked with for a long time. He is very political and has his favourites. I’ve had a couple of run-ins with him in the past, and I fear he neither likes me nor rates me. Clearly my job is now very vulnerable – he may want to give it to someone else. My problem is that I don’t want to leave; I like the work and the culture and the money’s good. What can I do to convince him that I’m worth keeping? Doing great work won’t achieve that – I do great work anyway and he has never valued it. I don’t think being smarmy is going to work either. Any ideas?

My boss, who is a competitive sort, and not a little frightening, has sent round an email asking people if they want to represent the company in a game of cricket. He has rather darkly suggested that people should send a cricketing CV to ensure that he can pick "a strong team".

I love playing cricket, though am not exactly county standard.  I know that were I to star in a victory it may bring me to my boss’s attention  – all sweaty lads together etc – and it could help my career . At the moment I am so far beneath the radar I  don’t think my boss even knows who I am. But my problem is that what happens if I play badly, or worse, if I run my boss out.

Should I apply, and if the worst were to happen, how should I cope with the sight of him trudging back to the pavilion, pausing only to glower back at me. I’m in a spin.

Any advice appreciated.

I work for a big media group as head of a department that is something of a backwater. Consequently, I struggle to get my share of the organisation’s talent. A year ago, I recruited a number two who is outstanding. He is full of energy and ideas, is charming to work with, and seems to like the job.

Unfortunately, my boss’s boss is now trying to poach him and has asked me if I think he has the maturity and people skills for a high-profile new role. I know he has both, and that he would dearly love the opportunity to prove himself. But I can’t afford to lose him. Can I talk his skills down in order to keep him for a bit longer and still look him in the eye?

Dear Lucy

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Lucy Kellaway, FT columnist and associate editor, offers her solution to your workplace problems in a fortnightly column in the Financial Times. In this weekly online edition of her 'agony aunt' column, readers are invited to have a say too. Read more about Dear Lucy here.