I am an ambitious woman in my mid-thirties working for a large multinational. My immediate boss is blocking my promotion because he resents me and is threatened by my talents. My strategy has been to find a mentor above him in the hierarchy. This seemed to be working: I have secured a true champion, who has told me repeatedly that I have what it takes to reach the very top. However, recently I’ve started to suspect he may have ulterior motives – he keeps on inviting me out to drinks on my own after work. Now I fear I’ve alienated my boss by going over his head, and risk losing my mentor if I refuse his advances. How do I get out of this tricky situation?
I have invited my boss and his wife to dinner, but am in a quandary over who else to ask. He is a formidable man who doesn’t find small talk easy. If I invite my most amusing friends I risk inflicting a boring evening on them. But if I ask some other dull people I owe hospitality to, I risk boring my boss. I could play safe and invite other colleagues, but that is politically complex and might make it look as if I have no friends at all. I’m also uncertain about the food: when we went to his house, dinner was very formal and served by a housekeeper. Should we get out our best china or do we deliberately make it a casual supper? And how do I stop my wife from divorcing me as she says she is dreading the whole event?
Manager, male, 34
I have been in the same job for seven years, but in the last twelve months have started to feel stale and tired and bored and somewhat burnt out. I used to love the challenges of the job but as I get older I find I’m becoming more cynical about the work itself and am also losing respect for my peers and about the people I manage. I also fear that I may be doing my job rather less well than I used to, although no one seems to have noticed anything. Indeed, my bonus last year was the biggest I have received to date. I could go and work for another company, but I think that as the problem is inside me, I’d just be moving it from one place to another without changing anything. I could stop altogether, but I don’t have any hobbies in particular, and in any case I have two young children in private school and am reliant on the (generous) salary. Is there anything I can do to get my enthusiasm back? Or are there any consoling thoughts that make working without enthusiasm more tolerable?
Senior manager, male, 49