Yes, honesty is the best policy

Q. Even though I believe I have done a good job in my position over the last year and deserve a raise, I’m afraid to ask for one in my upcoming performance review. How do you ask for a raise without sounding arrogant?A. First of all, asking for a raise is not arrogant. We all want and deserve to be fairly compensated for the work that we do. At the same time, it’s obvious that in this economy lots of companies are not in a position to give raises. If that’s the situation your company is facing, then you should be open to the possibility that this is just not the right time.My advice is to set up a meeting with your boss to discuss your compensation. I’d suggest an up-front, honest presentation that speaks directly to your desired outcome. Follow that with a sincere review of all the things you enjoy about working for the company.You can then share a few highlights of your contributions.I think it’s appropriate to acknowledge the fiscal realities of your company, and then take a deep breath and let your boss take it from there. There’s a fine line between counting your blessings and wanting to be paid fairly. Err on the side of the blessings and, at the same time, be optimistic about that raise now or in the future.Q. My supervisor has given me permission to hire my new assistant. I know one of the candidates for the position is his niece. While she is a good candidate, she is not my top choice. What do I do?A. Hire the best person for the job.I’ll agree that you’re in a bit of an awkward situation, but supervising your boss’ niece has the potential to be even more awkward — awkward in a way that’s not good for you, not good for your boss, and ironically, not good for his niece either.Someone once gave me some really good advice, which I will share with you. A great way to tackle these kinds of “sticky” situations is to ask yourself, “What’s the right thing to do in this situation?” Then just do it!Q. I’ve been with my company for a few years, and now my supervisor wants to assign me a coach. Isn’t this a slap in the face?A. I doubt that it’s a slap in the face, but it may be a kick in the pants. It’s a good idea to take this in stride and don’t be discouraged. In fact, I suspect this is really good news in disguise.The simple truth is that few companies invest in supporting an employee unless they feel the employee is worth the investment. So instead of focusing on how you’re feeling, focus on what the positive message might be in this instance.Most of us have been coached at one time or another, at least informally, and today many are seeking out coaches on their own. This could be an incredible opportunity, and will be, if you take advantage of this gift. Good luck!Q. I have a wonderful board of directors, but one member is always a “naysayer,” putting a kibosh on new ideas. Unfortunately, others on the board are sometimes afraid to buck him, as he is well known in the community. How should I handle this situation?A. A good place to start is board training. A really good board would not allow one personality to dominate. And ultimately, it’s your job as the CEO to get the very best board you can.If there is a board member who is both overpowering and also pessimistic, consider that it may not be deliberate on his or her part. Sometimes behaviors are so deeply engrained that people no longer know how they’re being perceived. You might consider an honest, straightforward, non-dramatic conversation with the “powerful” board member.Be clear that you always want honest and direct feedback, but also it’s important to explain that his/her style is discouraging participation. Most of us get that we still have a lot to learn, and how others perceive us is one of our biggest blind spots. My guess is he/she would be willing to work with you to decrease the pessimism and increase board participation.At the same time, you can help create board meetings where everyone’s opinions are valued and participation is encouraged. Asking, “What do others think?” or “Are there other things to consider?” are invitations that invite participation.Paul Boynton, president and CEO of The Moore Center, Manchester, is also a personal coach, corporate consultant, motivational speaker, host of the television show, “Begin with Yes” and author of the book by the same name. He can be reached at