Your CEO is busy.
He or she doesn’t have time for questions that you could easily have Googled or asked your coworker.
“General questions that don’t show a lot of imagination or thought or depth can make you look bad,” Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job,” told Business Insider.
We asked Taylor and Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “The Humour Advantage,” for examples of those flat, thoughtless inquiries — and they shared a whole bunch, some of which they’d heard before.
Read on for the questions you should never share with the head of your company.
1. ‘What’s new with the company?’
Your CEO really doesn’t have time to tell you about major company updates. This question doesn’t make you seem thoughtful at all, Taylor said.
2. ‘I heard a rumour about X. Is that true?’
Taylor said this kind of question is downright inappropriate. Consider your conversations with your CEO a gossip-free zone.
3. ‘Why is Sara getting that plum project?’
“Anything that sounds a little too familiar or too personal,” Taylor said, “is not a good idea.”
Plus, you’ll want to avoid coming to your CEO with issues related to people conflict. Other off-limits questions include: “Why is Sara managing that area? I thought that was my area.”
If it’s really a problem, Taylor said, approach your direct manager to resolve the dispute.
4. ‘Why has our stock fallen so precipitously?’
Same goes for: “Why has turnover been bad?” and “What are we going to do about that product that’s failing?”
Taylor said your CEO might turn around and say, “Do you have something in mind?” You should always come to your CEO with the solution — not the problem.
5. ‘What was our revenue last year?’
“For the most part, [CEOs] have very little patience for people who haven’t done their homework,” Kerr said.
If a piece of information is easily accessible online, don’t ask about it.
“If you’re in a position where your CEO is looking at you thinking, ‘You don’t know?'” Kerr added, “that’s not good.”
6. ‘What is the sick leave policy?’
If you think your CEO could say, “Why the heck are you asking me?” be wary, Kerr said.
You don’t want to waste your CEO’s time, so consider whether you could get the same information from the head of human resources, for example, or another department.
7. ‘Why does my team have to have a 10% budget cut when we’re going to feel the impact far more than any other department?’
Avoid asking questions that show you’re protecting your department and not showing concern for other areas of the company, Kerr said.
Another question you should avoid: “How much work is this going to mean for our department?”
8. ‘Are we ever going to get coffee in the break room?’
This question might be ok if you submit it anonymously. But Taylor thinks it’s a little ridiculous.
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