Q. Dear Dr. Culp, I report to two people and would like to give both of them something for Christmas. I want to keep it professional, but one of them doesnt celebrate Christmas and the other is a man.
What would you suggest? Ive thought about books or a magazine subscription, but I dont know what either one of them likes to read.
A: Dear Generous, Look for a time during the season when your gifts might stand out. Although you could give the woman something for Hanukkah and the man something for Christmas, what about giving both of them a New Years present to start off 2013? With this timing, your gifts compete less for attention, are sensitive and may really focus on work.
Think about a plant to keep their jobs growing or a special lunch you order in for them. What about some unusual fresh muffins or other breakfast baked goods you pick up on your way to work? What implement keeps disappearing from their desks? You might make a difference if you identify a task you could do for them and offer it in a cheery New Years card.
Q: Dear Dr. Culp, Id been in hospital security before a merger put me out of work for a couple of years. I did part-time stuff. Im 61 with basic, not bad, computer skills.
A temp agency sent me to a collection agency. Excited about doing something new, I filled out numerous papers and started training. We had eight hours on the phone, half-hour lunches and no breaks. We sat at cubicles. They outlawed cell phones, pens and paper. Are we machines working machines?
The third day I left, because I couldnt do it. I had six minutes to talk to people (about 100 calls per day) and an intake minimum of $5,000 per day ... way too much information in three days. Not a good fit.
You say to research more before going in. Didnt I get the best information from the recruiter? He later said 20 percent of trainees wash out. I was just happy someone said theyd give me a chance. What do I do?
A: Dear Didnt, Avoid jobs requiring a warm body. In interviews ask if the work style is highly structured. Get people to describe a typical day. Youre not an automaton!