SME Agony Uncle: Bobby Kerr answers all your business and work-related questions


Each week broadcaster, entrepreneur and agony uncle Bobby Kerr joins Newstalk Drive to answer all your employment-related questions.

While most of us will have told a few porkies in our time – this week is all about being straight up, honest and tackling your problems head on.

Pulling a sickie is one thing and, let’s be honest, an Oscar-winning tale of woe never hurt anyone - but when things get a little more serious, the truth tends to win the day.

A new job came up in our office. My colleague is so excited to go for it but the problem is, I am also looking to go for the job. I find it hard to broach the subject. I am worried it could lead to tension in our small team as he is quite territorial – but somewhat friendly.

There is no doubt that office politics can be a minefield – especially when you are part of a small and close-knit team.

At the end of the day though, there always comes a time when you have to back yourself and think about your own future.

“First of all, I would say that all is fair in love and war here,” says Bobby. “I think if Liz wants the job, she should go for the job.”

Honesty is the best policy here - but there is no need for a showdown. It is time for Liz to calmly tell her colleagues that she is in the pot for the job, as she is perfectly entitled to be.

“I would be of the view that she should mention it in a casual way,” says Bobby. “Then she doesn’t really have anything to apologise for."

“If she gets the job or if she doesn’t get the job; she was up-front about it.”

I started a new job in April of this year. I was blissfully unaware at the time but I found out late in May that I was seven weeks pregnant. I am now four months pregnant and I am still in the six-month probationary period.

Our listener is now very scared of talking to her employer. She worries that revealing her news will essentially put an end to her opportunities for development – regardless of the legal protections that are in place.

While this can be a tricky situation as a new hire, it will be very familiar to many. For Bobby, straight up honesty is, once again, the only approach.

At the end of the day, the truth will out and you don’t want your boss to learn your good news from someone else.

“I think most employers are reasonable people and I also think that employers are terrified - absolutely terrified - of the legalities around this,” he says.

“So, I would suggest that if this lady is fulfilling her probation as per the expectation, she has little or nothing to worry about.”

I have worked in the marketing department of a bank for the last two years. I have found my work negative, boring and monotonous. The department has been significantly downsized and we have been told we have to re-apply for our jobs. I told the boss I was taking redundancy - even though it won’t be much - and heading out to Australia to give things a go out there. He told me he was hugely disappointed in me for not reapplying and made me feel bad. Am I right in saying I should not feel bad about this.

Although this is a tough situation, Bobby has an easy answer for this listener - “you should not feel in the slightest bit bad.”

“What I would suggest is going to happen here is that the guy who is delivering this news is probably going to reapplying for his own job soon,” he says.

“I would suggest you have done your time here. The company has explicitly said they don’t have any interest in this department continuing so off you go, take your chances and good luck in Australia. I am sure it will be great for you.”

I volunteer in a charity shop Bobby but I get abused badly by the manager. I like meeting people and getting out of the house. What can I say in my defence? I am afraid I will be told to go home but I don’t want to let her away with the abuse.

What you have here is someone who is giving up their own time, without payment - and facing abuse for her good will.

Once again this about standing up for yourself in a straight up and honest way.

“I get where this lady is coming from and I would suggest that she should tackle it,” says Bobby.

“I don’t think she should be afraid about being sent home.

“I think she should tackle it head-on and she should do it in a quiet private area where there is no one around - in a calm and collected way.”

This is a matter of principal and if this shop does not appreciate our listener's hard-work, time and effort – there are many other people who will.

You can listen back to all of Bobby’s employment advice from Tuesday’s Newstalk Drive here:

If you have a business or SME related query you would like answered - you can get in touch with Bobby each week by simply sending a short mail to [email protected]

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