CAREERS: Pandora's Problem Page

Q: I run a fairly decent-size PR agency. I employ a lot of very

young, talented PR execs. To keep the office atmosphere enjoyable, I've

equipped the office with gadgets and things that make the work

environment as fun as possible. In fact, there's a small recreation room

where they can get away for a while to clear their heads and relax.

While I have found this to produce some excellent work, some of the

execs take advantage of this to the point where I'm considering going

back to a more straightforward, corporate type of office. I want this to

be a fun place to work, but I don't want this to turn into Romper Room.

What can I do?



Ms. C, San Jose, CA



A: I'm sure that your efforts to enliven your work space are not

unappreciated by your staff. Play in the work space can stimulate

creative thinking in boom times, as Elliot and Michael from

Thirtysomething would no doubt confirm.



However, let's face it, during the dot-com acceleration, we needed this

respite to keep employees in the office for long hours, instead of allow

them to retreat to the gym or the bar or, God help us, to the bosom of

their loving families. Now, we all have to fight for accounts and our

time is not exactly at a premium. So, while your toys might have been a

great idea during the high octane dot-com era, today they may just be a

distraction from the harsh reality of the tech decline.



It's time to have an honest discussion with your staff about the proper

balance between work and play. Remind them that no one can afford to run

to the pool table for comfort.



Q: Everyone knows the economy is bad and business is suffering. However,

I think that my boss is exacerbating the problem when it comes to

finding new business. He suddenly has new business quotas, and requires

multiple, redundant progress reports that are impeding our ability to do

our jobs. I know, he has done this to make sure that we are doing all we

can to get new accounts. But it seems we are buried under paperwork when

our time would be better spent drumming up new business. Does he not

trust us?



Ms. P, New York



A: The first line of defense of any panicked executive, whose bottom

line depends on your bottom line, is to mandate more paperwork, i.e.

evidence of voracious effort towards generating the moola. Simply put,

you have to toe the line right now, because your boss is feeling

pressure from his boss, and so on.



This may sound like passing the buck, and maybe it is, but you'll have

more leverage once you start showing better results. Find opportunities

to inject your own opinions about the type of work environment that will

produce the best results. But be sure that when you present these ideas,

you come from a position of strength and effectiveness in meeting

expectations.



Q: I can't seem to get up on time in the morning, and I'm always late

for work. I get all my work done, and my office is laid back, but I

still think my boss and co-workers are annoyed. How do I handle

this?



Mr. D, Dallas



A: How old are you? Can you dress yourself yet? If so, you can get up on

time. I hear Dallas actually has Starbucks now - they do a mean triple

espresso.



Do you have a problem that no one else has been able to solve? Try

Pandora. E-mail her at pandora@prweek.com.



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