Monthly Archives: September 2007

I head up a small team in the financial sector, and am currently looking for an additional member. At present all six team members are male. The two strongest candidates I have interviewed are both very high-calibre, one male and one female. Of the two, the male looks slightly better on paper and seems more easygoing. I would offer him the job without more ado.

However our bank is keen on promoting women – indeed my own performance and bonus depends on this to some extent – "values diversity" is one of 15 key behaviours that I am judged against. However it is my main task to ensure that my team delivers the very best performance possible. To choose a woman just because she is a woman when there is a (slightly) better male candidate available goes against everything that I have based my career upon, and I don’t know if I have the heart to do it. What should I do?

Banker, male, 39

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I work in a creative advertising agency. We are a young team and it’s all very informal. My boss (who is quite cool and who I get on with well with) has just asked to be my friend on Facebook and I don’t know what to do. It’s not that I’ve got lots of sexy pictures of myself that I don’t want him to see. It’s just that I feel invaded – I’m passionate about my work but want to keep it separate from the rest of my life. I definitely don’t want him spying on what I say to my friends. He has also asked two other people in the office who have said yes and they seem to think it’s fine. But I don’t want to. Can I say no without damaging my career?

Advertising creative, female, 26

I run a media organisation of 50 people, two of whom got married last year. They could not be more different: she is a star, without question  the most talented person in the company, while her husband (who on paper is senior to her) is neither hardworking nor capable, and hides this in a bad attitude that he seems to think is humorous. In the last appraisal I told him that unless he changed his tune and pulled his weight I would demote him. He was very indignant, as expected. However his wife has hit the roof too, weighing in on his side. She has told me that I wasn’t giving him the chance he deserved to show his talents. I backed down, but the problem hasn’t gone away. It seems that either I put up with an incompetent senior staff member who is alienating other members of staff, or I risk losing my star. Is there anything I can do to make it better?
MD, male, 42

I am the director of a team of 20 in a successful property company. All my team members are good players. There is no ‘weakest link’. I like all of them bar one. He has a whiney voice; there is something about the way he sits at his desk; and he answers questions obliquely – although his ideas are always good. His work is first-class but I just find him intensely irritating and this makes me unfair and snappy with him.

I have tried to overcome what must, in all honesty, simply be personal dislike. I guess it’s just a question of personality clash but it’s damaging the way we do things. Should I get rid of him, even though he’s doing a great job?

Property executive, 49

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Dear Lucy

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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.

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