being the boss

All your questions about being the boss, answered — like dealing with low performers, lateness, weird feedback, and more.

how to tell an assistant, “just fix the problem!”

A reader writes: Soon after I started, I hired a new assistant, Amy. She’s been here a few months. It’s going okay but I’m trying to figure out which of the following things are worth trying to fix with her, and which are just personal quirks and to let it go. She excels in other […]

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how can I take time off when my team needs it more?

A reader writes: I like to take vacation during the popular times that everyone likes to — spring break, 4th of July, and Christmas. The problem is that the small team I manage also likes to take that time off. We have a specialized skill set. My boss has no experience in this space — […]

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how to ensure a religious new hire won’t proselytize at work

A reader writes: I just completed a second interview with a job candidate who is looking like a great fit. However, she doesn’t have much recent job experience, so has used her demanding and rigorous volunteer work with her religious organization very heavily to highlight her strengths and flexibility. While I am impressed, some of […]

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should I let someone who no-called no-showed come back to work?

A reader writes: The last two weeks have really made me question myself as a manager. Without getting into details, I had three of my staff of six quit within 10 days without notice. They’re for unrelated reasons, but we were already down one staff member so our schedule was devastated. One of the employees […]

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how to say no without sounding negative

A reader writes: I’m by nature an over-thinker/highly analytical person. When I make a structural or wording choice, I put a huge amount of thought into which of the many options will be clearest and easiest to understand. When I then bring the draft to my client or to colleagues, they will often have many […]

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my employee always gets other people’s help on his work

A reader writes: I’m a little stuck on how to handle one of my analysts. He’s reported to me for about six months and I have some performance concerns that I’m working to address. He procrastinates a lot, and he doesn’t ask me for help, even though I have encouraged him to do so on […]

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my employee gets stressed out and snaps at me

A reader writes: One of the people I manage is a recent graduate; this is his first office role and he struggles with anxiety. When I assign him projects, he is immediately overwhelmed and panicked. No amount or type of support mitigates this, but the next day he comes in feeling much better. We then […]

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my employee’s colleagues don’t like him

A reader writes: I was manage a small IT department. My reports have been with the company for several years and are extremely knowledgeable. Unfortunately, one of them has much less respect from many other employees. We’ll call him Josh and the other tech Steven. I was looking into an issue with a user who […]

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