"Z"

Q: My most recent promotion was a big deal, and I keep hearing I’m being groomed for a top job here. But the new job requires almost constant travel. I hate airports, especially with those long lines and delays. But I fear if I gripe about the travel, I’ll look bad. Help!

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Q: Every few months, I have to give a presentation to the board of directors. One of the board members repeatedly interrupts me, often rudely, with rambling questions or irrelevant comments. He breaks my rhythm and steals my thunder. How can I shut him up?

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Q: I manage someone who’s so confident that he won’t admit what he doesn’t know. He says yes to every assignment, even if he has no idea what the task requires. He reassures me that he’ll figure it out, but then he lets me down. How should I respond?

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Q. I got into an argument with my manager over the best way to handle a dicey situation, and tempers flared a bit. The next day, I emailed him a half-hearted apology while joking that I still think I’m right. Now he’s madder than ever at me. What did I do wrong?

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Q. I have a co-worker who’s driving me crazy. He taunts me about my fast and accurate work (he’s error-prone), and he thinks I’m a “goody two-shoes.” I’ve tried to talk to him but he’s never going to let up. I guess I should talk to my supervisor, right?

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Q: Employees keep telling me we should be like other employers that let staffers vote on everything from what temperature to set the thermostat to what sound­­track to play in common areas. This strikes me as a silly trend that’ll soon pass. But I shouldn’t say that, right?

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Q. My employee, Jane, has family in the military. They’re stationed in war zones. Jane’s performance is slipping—she’s just not herself. What can I do?

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Q. Why do we frown on business leaders who truly command?

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You never appreciate a good performer until you’ve fired a bad performer. That’s because bad performers take so much time and attention to manage. From the moment you sense that an employee isn’t working out—and you set in motion disciplinary steps—you have to imagine a judge and jury watching your every move. That way, you can stand behind your actions without feeling embarrassed or guilty.

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“Hire for attitude, train for skill.” That’s the one craze in recruiting job candidates, and I’m sick of it.  Attitude is easy to fake. Someone can walk into an interview bubbling with enthusiasm, full of bright questions and observations. What they lack in hard knowledge they make up in soft appeals to my ego.

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