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THE QUESTION

I work at a hotel with several male assistant managers who rarely help out when it gets busy with ringing phones or waiting customers at our front desk, where there is limited staff. All the managers seem to do is socialize in the back office and favour a few front-desk female staffers by alleviating their work load.

Should I report them to human resources? What is the role of a manager if they mainly socialize? And their computer skills are lacking. Why isn't management training them?

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Most of the managers only create more work. All they need to do is offer to help. There also is no trust and respect in our workplace. Some of my ideas get implemented and I don't receive any recognition. Is this typical operation of an office work environment? I'm so fed up.

THE FIRST ANSWER

Colleen Clarke

Corporate trainer and career specialist, Toronto

Let's start with the last question: No, this is not typical behaviour, but it is not unique, either.

You said the assistant managers seem to be socializing in the back office, but do you know this for a fact? Let's assume they are socializing and not tending to business. It is not your place to report them to HR. Talk to the front-desk manager. Explain that you are committed to providing an outstanding customer experience to the hotel guests, and to deliver this quality all the time you need advice.

Ask who you are to approach for help when the front desk gets overwhelmed and is short staffed. The senior manager will say the assistant managers and you can say you tried asking for their help but to no avail. Then wait, say nothing, see what the response it. If you're told it is the assistant managers' role, ask how you should approach them for help, since asking hasn't worked. Don't gripe, or complain; discuss the problem calmly, and stay focused on finding a solution. As for the lack of computer training, could you take that on?

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The easy answer for you is to find a new job. Prepare your résumé including all the ideas you suggested that have been implemented and the difference they made to the operation and customer service. You may not fit in this hotel's environment and you alone can't change the way the hotel is managed. Find an employer who cares about their staff and their customers. You will be happier, more productive, healthier, and inspired to excel.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Heather MacKenzie

The Integrity Group, Vancouver

That is quite a litany of accusations – everything from management laziness, to favouritism, to lack of trust, to disrespect, to devaluing work, to stealing credit. If these assertions are true, it is surprising that you have stayed in such a dysfunctional workplace.

It seems you resent the supposedly easier jobs that managers appear to have, compared with front-line workers like yourself. But there is lot more to management than meets the eye; for example, when you punch out for the day, managers are invariably working many more hours without the benefit of overtime pay.

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I am assuming that a part of you wants to stay and improve things. If so, you should channel your complaints into constructive conversations with your management team to respectfully express your concerns. Harbouring resentment only contributes to the toxicity of your workplace.

You wonder why some front-desk workers receive "perks." Time for a reality check: When you help make others look good, and really invest yourself in being a part of the team, managers will typically respond positively. If you make the choice to stay and improve things by adopting a co-operative attitude, you will get respect and appreciation, and management becomes an ally, not an enemy.

Are you facing a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that minefield? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com. Confidentiality ensured. Weigh in with your view at tgam.ca/careers. Check out past columns here.

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