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De-stress a co-worker during volatile times

January 16, 2018

Q. The nature of our business is up and down. All the volatility makes it fun for me, but some members of our team aren’t very good at handling the uncertainty. They get frazzled and don’t deal well with sudden lulls and surges in activity. Are there ways to help people take volatility in stride?

Replace paranoia with open discussion

January 11, 2018

Q. One of my employees is paranoid. He talks about how the company spies on everyone, uses hidden cameras in the restroom, eavesdrops on us, monitors our online usage, etc. I keep assuring him he’s full of it, but he replies, “You’re just a supervisor. This is above your pay grade.” How can I convince him to stop all the nonsense?

Push millennials to learn and grow

December 13, 2017

Q: I’m 56 and I recently hired a 28-year-old. He was about to send out a press release, but I happened to see it first and fixed a sloppy mistake. All he said was, “Good catch.” No apology, no acknowledgement of his error. Overall, he’s a good worker. But if he’s unwilling to take responsibility for his work, how can I supervise him effectively?

Don’t want to commit to this committee

November 17, 2017
Q. I volunteered to serve on a committee to boost my visibility here. But I keep getting assigned time-consuming projects on top of my normal job. The projects aren’t very interesting, and it feels like the committee chair is just dumping chores on my lap. Should I quit this stupid committee?

My boss, the hypocrite

November 9, 2017

Q: Our CEO is always telling us to be more open about our failures. He wants us to innovate, and he knows that means some botched experiments. But the few of us who have taken high-profile risks have not been lauded; in fact, he’s privately (and publicly) shamed and embarrassed us. Is there a polite way to call someone a hypocrite?

Work around bad boss to forge alliances

November 9, 2017

Q. For years, I reported to the CEO. But the company brought in someone just below the CEO level, so now I report to this new manager who’s terrible. I rely on my new boss to get a sense of the CEO’s priorities, but after he comes out of meetings with the CEO, he’s vague about what’s next. Plus, he takes credit for my ideas. How would you handle this?

Does this shirt make me look unmotivated?

October 20, 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?
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