Ask "Z"

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Does this shirt make me look unmotivated?

October 5, 2017
Q: When we’re up against a crunch deadline, our CEO tries to bolster our confidence by giving us a T-shirt with “YGT” on it. It stands for “You Got This.” I don’t need to be told I can tackle a tough challenge. I do need better support—more resources, more time, more cooperation from the CEO. Can I rip up my shirt?

Don’t let bigwig use personality test as an excuse

September 20, 2017
Q. I work closely with the owner of a consulting firm. He’ll only let people ask a question, not explain what’s going on. He says that’s just his personality (he says he’s a “D” and an “I”) and his style is normal for his personality type. It’s driving me crazy. What good is it to have me here if I can’t provide information on the status of projects or situations?

Aren’t I already transparent?

September 7, 2017
Q: My boss says, “Be more transparent in your communication.” But I don’t talk about people behind their back. I don’t speak in code—I use plain English. I’m a straight shooter, and I’m not afraid to tell people the truth. Isn’t that transparent?

To motivate people older than you, set big goals

August 24, 2017
Q. I manage people much older than me (I’m 29). They really do know more than me, and they have much deeper industry experience than me. I’ve told them that—and that I don’t have all the answers. But when I say that, they laugh derisively. How can I defer to them without coming across as a softie?

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?
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