Ask “Z”

The trick to making a good first impression

June 6, 2014
Q: I’ve just landed a job as CFO and I want to make sure I don’t become immediately invisible, or even immediately dislikeable. What should I do?

How to shake up a coasting worker

May 30, 2014
Q: Our company has been doing well for a long time, and some people who have slowly gotten very complacent over the years, especially as they close in on retirement. How do I jolt them into realizing that their jobs aren’t totally guaranteed?

The need for selective silence

May 23, 2014

Q: As a CEO, I find myself constantly struggling with how much to tell people about sensitive issues, and whether concealing potentially explosive information from certain people is deceitful or just plain smart. Where’s the line I should be walking?

Confront low morale head-on

May 16, 2014
Q. In an exit interview, an outgoing employee told me, “Morale is terrible. You should hear how your crew bashes you and the organization when we get together for beers after work.” I don’t want people criticizing me—or my company. What should I do?

How to stifle rumors after recent firing

May 9, 2014
Q. I fired a few high-profile managers. The remaining managers are in shock. I can’t reveal to them the grounds for firing, so rumors are spreading. How can I get them to focus on their jobs and not get caught up in something that’s none of their business?

How do I prevent managers from skewing my orders?

May 2, 2014
Q: “It seems that many times when I issue directives to managers, the messages they relay to their own subordinates are distorted versions—and frankly, make me look bad when they play the ‘We’re only following orders from the top’ card. How do I make sure what I say isn’t corrupted on its way through channels?”

Opening your leadership up to a referendum

April 25, 2014
Q: More and more, I look around and see leaders surveying their people to find out how they’re doing and what they should change about themselves. What do you think of the “If my people don’t want me here, I’ll quit” maneuver?

Hey, I recognize that bad boss!

April 18, 2014
Q. I just attended a webinar on leadership. It turns out that I report to a guy who embodies many of the worst traits of a leader. I learned that bad leaders hog credit, don’t listen and have a thin skin—just like my boss. When he asks what I learned in the webinar, how should I respond?

Decipher a directive, then act on it

April 11, 2014
Q. My boss said I have to do a better job corralling my employees and getting them into line. I’m not sure what he meant, so I asked for examples. He replied, “You know, getting them to work together.” I’m confused. What does he want from me?

An unhealthy obsession?

April 3, 2014
Q: One of our managers is relentless about crafting his job title, changing it every year. We put up with it, but at some point he may push too far. How important do you think job titles really are?