Ask "Z"

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Micromanager or realist?

June 8, 2017
Q. My staff considers me a micromanager. I’ve tried backing off, but then I have to take the blame for their mistakes. When I’m ultimately held accountable for everything people below me do, how am I supposed to avoid diving in too deeply?

When motivation no longer does the trick

May 23, 2017
Q. For years, we’ve motivated our sales and service folks with incentives. Our culture is built around contests, fun competitions for bonuses or other prizes and recognition. But the last few contests have produced acrimony. Those who don’t win gripe about the rules and resent the winners. Are we motivating the wrong way?

Hold meetings with fewer distractions

May 11, 2017
Q. During our staff meetings, it’s rare that employees look up at me. Instead of paying attention, they’re glancing at their phones or typing away on their laptops. I’ve set ground rules, but they ignore them. Any ideas?

Employees don’t think their supervisor is so super

April 26, 2017
Q. One of my supervisors rubs people the wrong way. Some colleagues complain that her comments bother them—and that she subtly cuts them down. What can I do to address the situation? I’m not even sure how to explain the problem to her, much less propose a solution.

Plug gap between desired and real performance

April 13, 2017
Q. There’s a big gap between the desired performance that I’d like from people—and their actual output. Apparently, I demand too much (at least that’s what I hear from employee engagement surveys). What am I supposed to do? Lower my standards?

Call him the “change everything agent”

March 30, 2017
Q. I assigned a person on my team to serve as “change agent.” I told him to review our policies and propose solutions to improve our operation. Now he refuses to accept anything the way it is and wants to overhaul everything (even what works). Help!

Why not let political junkies indulge?

March 15, 2017
Q. I’ve got a group of employees who are so distracted by the political goings-on on a national level that they just can’t seem to focus on work. How can I get them to concentrate better?

Suffering a boss who doesn’t suffer fools

March 1, 2017
Q. I just accepted a midlevel manager job. Yesterday, I met with a senior vice president who I’ll have to work with regularly. He said, “I don’t suffer fools gladly.” I interpreted that as arrogant, especially given his pompous tone. How do you cope with fools like this?

Negotiate ways to increase your impact

February 17, 2017
Q. My boss refuses to let me run an internal training program. He insists on wasting money on an outside consultant because he thinks this “expert” knows more than I do. I’m furious. Any advice on what I should do next?

What don’t they get about ‘urgent’?

February 1, 2017
Q. Lately, I’ve had two different colleagues fail to reply to my important emails. Both were marked “urgent” but were apparently ignored. One of my colleagues had the audacity to say, “I never got it,” even though I’m sure she was lying. How can I get people to treat my emails seriously?
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