Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Employee Leaves Reader Without Many Options

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have an employee who has worked with me remotely for about two years. She is a college student. She would turn in her work once a week like clockwork until last semester, when she became more erratic. I communicated with her about her tardiness. She apologized and assured me that she would do better. This summer, she has been very spotty in turning in her work, even after we had an exchange about the importance of following up and being professional.

Fast-forward to now: I haven’t heard from her in two weeks. I am frustrated because she was such a reliable support to my business, and now she has trailed off entirely. Do I write to her one more time to see what’s going on? I hate to lose her. Also, if she wanted a recommendation, it would be hard for me to give a good one, considering that she has walked away from me in a very unprofessional manner. -- Virtually Missing, Minneapolis

DEAR VIRTUALLY MISSING: As far as your business is concerned, the writing on the wall is telling you to find a replacement for this employee. She has proven to be unreliable. If you need the work done, you need to find someone who wants to do it.

As far as your employee is concerned, send her a note. Check to see if she is OK, that no misfortune has befallen her. Then state in your note that you must hear from her, even if she is no longer going to be working with you. Impress upon her the importance of having a smooth ending to your professional relationship. Otherwise, you will not be able to give her a good recommendation in the future.

Read more in: Work & School | Etiquette & Ethics

Reader Panicked About Doctor Retiring

DEAR HARRIETTE: My primary care doctor is retiring, and I’m in a panic. I have been going to her for more than 20 years. I got a letter saying she is finished and I can go to another doctor in her practice if I want, but I don’t know any of them. I got a recommendation from a friend for another doctor. Now that my doctor is gone, how can I get my records transferred to the new doctor? I am so confused. I don’t think my doctor handled this well. She’s just gone, and that’s that. -- Need Records, Philadelphia

DEAR NEED RECORDS: Take a deep breath. It’s not as bad as you think. Contact your former doctor’s practice. Let them know that you were her patient for many years and are now transferring to another doctor. Ask if you can come in and pick up your records or have them transferred electronically to your new doctor. Your new doctor may need to make a formal request, which is good, as it protects your confidentiality. You may have to push a little to make this happen, but you have every right to a smooth transfer of your medical records.

(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.)

Read more in: Health & Safety | Miscellaneous