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Ask Ellie: Focus on employee's failings at job, not love life

Suggest she focus on one task only and if her work doesn’t improve, consult human resources expert
Advice columnist Ellie Tesher

Dear Ellie: I’m a woman in charge of a large business department and was recently handed a new employee who’s not up to the job. She’s also having a relationship with my male boss, who’s a very senior manager. This woman keeps reminding me of their connection whenever I review her work and find it lacking, sometimes even incomprehensible.

I’m concerned that she’s going to negatively affect my job, which I love.

Several times already, this new employee has handed me only scattered notes, instead of suggestions, about what’s needed in this area of our work.

But she never misses mentioning something about her romance with one of our married bosses, almost as an unsubtle threat. She worries me. The rest of my department has as many females as males. But most important, everyone is producing their best work, except for this one woman.

How should I handle this?

Troubled at Work

Forget the affair. Gently tell the woman it’s her private life, you’re only interested in the actual work she needs to produce. Suggest that she focus on one task only, until she’s sure of something to improve the department. If nothing changes, consider that a human resources source, either within your business or operating separately, may be helpful.

Regarding your own current boss, male or female, married or single, if you’re put on the spot about this woman’s failings at her job, be specific about the work only, without reference to her private life.

FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who met a mother who’s unaware that her own daughter is being bullied (Feb. 5):

Reader – “It’s unfortunate that some poor child is being picked on when her parents pay for her to take dance lessons.

I suggest that this other mom confide in the dance studio’s teachers to ensure that they’re watching over this specific child to ensure she’s no longer picked on, and request that they start every lesson with a reminder that the dance school doesn’t tolerate bullying or any nasty behaviour toward others.”

Dear Ellie: Why do so many people celebrate February 14th, the date when Emperor Claudius II executed two men, both named Valentine, on different years in the third century, as a day of love, when it was really a day of murder?

Valentine’s Day Irony

The origin of Valentine’s Day, in its modern-day format, is a mystery in that it has transformed continuously over the years.

It is only one belief that both murdered men were priests, so the Catholic Church honoured them through martyrdom and sainthood, St. Valentine.

It wasn’t until Chaucer, in the 14th century, connected romance to the date; followed by Shakespeare. By the mid-18th century, exchanges of notes and tokens of love and friendship started; and in 1913, Hallmark mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards.

Personally, I’ve questioned over the years whether the buildup to this holiday is creative, useful or the very opposite. As a child, it always took me back to the discomfort of handing out to classmates my homemade Valentines’ cards with big red hearts on them, which made me feel even more of a loser, since I received few in return.

One year, I faked illness and insisted to my mom that I was too sick to go to school. Fortunately, I outgrew this trauma and, when I reached my teens, I received plenty of cards. Now, in an adult relationship, I appreciate every loving gesture possible.

FEEDBACK Regarding a response to the man trying to convince his wife to get a dog, while reading Starter Dog, by Rona Maynard (Nov. 2, Dec. 12, Jan. 29):

Reader – “I’d bet that if she reads this book, she’ll think differently regarding dogs.

“Like your reader, I have also been blessed to have a grandchild sleep in my arms. And I have also taken my grandchildren and their family dog out on walks for 14 years.

“I’d like to think that after reading this book, her ‘pet peeve’ will disappear, as she begins to recognize the shared love she has for both her grandchild and her family’s dog. They are both parts of a universal and dynamic circle of love.”

Ellie — Agreed. I’ve also written about and loved our two family dogs who each lived for 18 healthy, loving years. I still miss them.

However, that reader has every right to not like dogs the way we do.

Ellie’s tip of the Day: Whatever and whomever bring trusted love, comfort and companionship into your life, is worth celebrating.

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