Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Upset Co-Workers Are Giving Intern Orders

DEAR HARRIETTE: This summer, I am directly managing an intern for my operations team. Whenever my intern has some downtime, I encourage her to go check out other departments of the company so she can learn during her time with us.

I thought this was a great plan until I realized another colleague was giving her orders and using her for errands. How do I stick up for my intern when other departments are asking her to do work that takes her away from her responsibilities? -- No Funny Business, Cleveland

DEAR NO FUNNY BUSINESS: Let’s start with assessing how much downtime your intern has. It may be beneficial to her not only to observe what other departments are doing, but also to take part in some of their work. If she is handling a task or two here and there with other departments, that may not be a problem. Before you jump to conclusions, evaluate how your intern is spending her time, what others are asking her to do and whether she feels that she is learning. Next, speak to your colleague and ask the person to clear any tasks to be given to the intern with you before assigning them so that you can manage her time. The way you can stick up for your intern is to oversee her time. You may not need to block other engagement at your job, though.

Read more in: Work & School | Etiquette & Ethics

Reader Feels Unsure About Receiving Time Off

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was recently given three days off because of my overtime hours in the past few weeks. At first, I was happy and grateful that I could have a break, but now I'm beginning to think that my boss just wants me out of the office. My friends tell me I'm crazy, but I don't see other people getting this much time off due to their overtime! Am I losing it, or am I right to be suspicious? -- Something's Brewing, Philadelphia

DEAR SOMETHING’S BREWING: Many companies are choosing to give employees time off rather than having to pay them overtime. This is one way that they are managing costs. At face value, your situation sounds like the new norm.

That said, if your instinct is telling you that there’s something else afoot, pay attention. When you come back to the office, request a meeting with your boss, and ask what you can do to help make your contribution more efficient. Point out that you know that he is very conscientious about the use of overtime. Ask him if he has any strategies to recommend for getting the work completed without the need for additional hours. Let him know you want to be an effective team player. Ask for his guidance on making that happen. Even if your nervousness was all in your head, showing your boss that you want to do what’s best for the company is always wise.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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