Ask “Z”

What to do with a chronic latecomer

December 22, 2016
Q: I’ve got a perfectly good employee with one annoying habit: He’s chronically late for meetings. I’ve repeatedly asked him why. I get excuses, not answers. I’ve started to disinvite him to meetings, but then he complains that he’s left out. Help!

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?

Hold employee’s feet to the fire

August 24, 2016
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?