Ask “Z”

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?

Lawsuit? Bad idea. Find a workaround

January 19, 2017
Q. I was fired from my job. A vengeful boss resented my success and my relationships throughout the organization. I’m thinking of getting a lawyer and suing for wrongful termination. Have you been involved in such lawsuits? What’s it like to take legal action?

Badmouth colleagues at your own peril

December 15, 2016
Q: A top executive here told me, “Don’t trust Jim. Everyone knows he’s a liar.” Jim is one of our senior executives. I would never trust Jim; I figured that out years ago! I’m more concerned that the executive felt a need to badmouth Jim, his peer. Am I wrong to think less of the guy who said this?

Why won’t the CEO let me help?

December 1, 2016
Q: It drives me crazy how our CEO loves to pay for overpriced consultants to tell us what we already know (or at least what I could’ve told the CEO for free). I’m never asked for my opinion. What’s a diplomatic way for me to convey my concern?

Ditch advice to move your stars around

November 30, 2016
Q: I have a budding star who I’m grooming for a senior role here. I keep hearing I should move him around to different jobs, exposing him to new challenges. But he loves his current job, and he’s outperforming everybody. Why change what works so well?

Whining: The ultimate self-sabotage

November 13, 2016
Q: It seems like we’re always reconfiguring our office space. I’m not privy to why we’re always building new cubicles, then knocking ‘em down and hammering away at an addition. I do know the constant noise is driving me insane. Whenever I complain that the noise is causing a distraction, I’m labeled a “malcontent.” What gives?

Faced with two-faced boss? Hunker down

November 3, 2016
Q: I just don’t trust my boss. He’s so calculating in everything he says, and has misled me on numerous occasions. How am I supposed to respect him—and respond positively to his attempts to motivate me—when I don’t believe a word he says?

Turn a brilliant jerk into a team player

October 7, 2016
Q: I can’t afford to get rid of my most destructive employee—a brilliant jerk. He has qualifications that are hard to find, so I can’t replace him easily. But he’s a terrible influence on the unit with his insults and negative attitude. Any ideas on what I can do?

He wants the job, but not the frequent-flier miles

September 18, 2016
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!

How to handle an interrupting audience

September 7, 2016
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?