Ask "Z"

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When to make that risky move

August 10, 2017
Q. Getting comfortable with high-stakes risk-taking is difficult, but it’s part of the job. How do I consistently judge all types of risk?

When employees ask for too much

July 26, 2017
Q. I’m amazed by the demands my employees make. It never stops. They want to work from home. They want more time off (one guy requested a three-month sabbatical!). I never expected being a supervisor would require fending off constant outlandish requests. What can I do?

Cite hard numbers to prove your worth

July 13, 2017
Q. I’ve been a midmanager here for 10 years. Recently, I got a new boss who’s decades younger than me, and I’m suddenly an outcast. I’ve been treated terribly by this person, even though I’ve been supportive and made his job easier. When I asked what gives, he said, “You have to prove your relevance to me.” Outrageous!

Exhibit humility, not weakness

July 4, 2017
Q. My boss told me I’m a weak manager—that I’m too humble, that I defer to others, dither rather than make quick, decisive decisions and I’m too eager to apologize. To me, that’s the kind of humility great leaders embody. Am I right?

Your priorities vs. appeasing higher-ups

June 22, 2017
Q: I keep getting grief from my board for not developing my managers, but there are only so many priorities that I can address at once. How can I satisfy the board without dropping the ball on some other top priority?

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?
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