Having just published our 200th post, this month saw an unusually vigorous influx of billets-doux from our ever-growing legions of loyal readers. In fact, the volume of inbound correspondence was so high, our regular postman contracted a quadruple hernia schlepping the mailbag in from the street. We’re working through that lawsuit with promising alacrity. And his substitute seems to be getting along famously. Unlike his predecessor, he’s taken to using a winch to get the mail off his truck and a dolly to wheel it into the building. It seems to have made everyone a bit less … edgy. So, since there are no adults around to tell us we can’t, let’s get to this month’s questions, shall we?

Dear Mailbag,

I’m a business owner. As if that isn’t impressive enough, I also want everyone to like me. Toward that end, I recently read an article in Inc. about getting reluctant employees to do things they’d rather not do. According to the article, you need only ask such employees two questions:

1. How ready are you to make the revisions, on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 means not ready at all and 10 means totally ready?
2. If she picks a number higher than 2, ask, ‘Why didn’t you pick a lower (yes, lower) number?’

Do you think this is an effective way to manage problem personnel?

Big Wheel

Dear BW: Yes — as long as you prefer being popular to being successful. Not only that, but that approach is perfectly in line with the way we’ve become determined to infantalize people of all ages, rather than getting them accustomed to unpleasant things like … oh, I don’t know … reality. If, at some point, you decide to take your company public — and if your shareholders seem preoccupied with your being profitable, rather than popular — here are a couple of alternative questions that may give you more meaningful prospects for successful outcomes:

  1. Did you enjoy working here?
  2. How about a lovely ficus where your desk used to be?

Dear Mailbag,

Our traffic statistics indicate few, if any, visitors read our employee bios on our website, and even fewer look at the employee video interviews we also posted. As a culture, though, we believe it’s really important to show how personable and funny we are, to let site visitors see we’re more than just a bunch of stodgy business people. What do you think?

Web Guru

Dear WG: We think you’re probably a bunch of stodgy business people. And we think your business must generate enough revenue to make you comfortably profitable, in which case you don’t need a marketing site, let alone an effective one. If your site presents what you want to show — rather than what your prospects want, need, and come to find — stay the course. Your prospects probably are a bunch of stodgy business people, too. What do they know?

Dear Mailbag,

I’m an ethical vegan. I even got rid of my dog, Ginger, because I didn’t feel she should be subjugated to me simply because I’m a sentient creature of superior intellect. (Besides, I couldn’t figure out how to housebreak her.) Accordingly, I’m planning to launch a line of gluten-free doggie treats as a way of assuaging my naggingly guilty conscience. But I’m torn: Some of my research reveals that abstaining from gluten may improve one’s cognitive faculties. This makes things very confusing because — if I manufacture the treats and Ginger happens to get some — she may end up being intellectually superior to me and attempt a hostile takeover of the business. But my research also reveals the entire gluten-free movement may be a politically opportune marketing scam, in which case my intellectual superiority may be subject to question. Do you have any thoughts on this?


Dear O: Your intellectual superiority isn’t an issue. Trust us. Go ahead and launch your line of treats, and make sure Ginger gets a lifetime supply. If you’re lucky, she’ll give you a job as a taster after she takes over the company. If not, we may have an opening here for a mail handler.

Image courtesy of clipartsfree.net.