Editor's note: Inc.com columnist Alison Green answers questions about workplace and management issues -- everything from how to deal with a micromanaging boss to how to talk to someone on your team about body odor.

Here's a roundup of answers to five questions from readers.

1. Can I ask my staff to be nicer?

I'm a new director at a medium-size nonprofit that has gone through a hard year. There have been many staff changes in the past year, and I can tell that many within the organization are still struggling to negotiate these changes. Two supervisors who report to me are very unfriendly to me. They give one-word responses most of the time. They don't say hi or bye unless I really go out of my way. They never ever ask how I'm doing or anything like that, even though I try to initiate pleasantries with them. I don't think it's personal -- I think they just are not in the habit of cultivating a positive relationship with a superior. Their lack of warmth rarely offends me, but I do think it sends a bad message to the other people in the department for whom they should be setting an example because they're supervisors.

Can I ask them to be nicer and more mindful of the way they communicate? I will also continue to lead by example by being very friendly and communicating thoroughly. I have never encountered people at any stage of my career who behave with such a lack of awareness for how they interact with their superiors. I think niceness is really important and it's not about kissing ass or feeling popular; it's about laying the foundation for productive conversations and a free exchange of ideas. I don't mean to imply that I would threaten to give them a negative review, but they really need to be aware of the fact that how they communicate, whether they are open with me, and the example they set for their reports are all things that I could consider in a performance review. Would this come across as petty or needy?

Well, the real issue isn't about pleasantries; it's that they're operating in a way that isn't consistent with the kind of culture you want, and I bet it goes well beyond basic pleasantries. If they're this chilly with you, I find it hard to imagine that they're keeping you in the loop on work, using you as a resource, cultivating a positive sense of energy and mission with their staffs, and I'd focus more on that stuff. Because really, if they were doing that stuff well, the rest of this wouldn't be an issue -- if it were happening at all, which it probably wouldn't be.

One next step might be to take them out to lunch (individually) and try to get to know them better -- but I'd also stay alert to the possibility that they're not operating the way you want managers to operate on a whole range of things, and that you might need people in those roles who are better equipped to work in a partnership with you. But before you conclude that, I'd have a direct conversation with them about how you want the relationship to work -- again, focusing on substance more than the hi/bye stuff -- and give them a chance to meet those expectations. It's possible they're just not ideal for their roles, or that they've been so damaged by the hard year you reference that they might not be able to move on from it in the way you need, but start talking with them and see what you find out.

2. How should I fill our daily required meetings?

We are required by our organization to have daily meetings that are to last no more than 15 minutes, following the Lean process. We are to review any new Just Do Its that have been submitted and follow up on old ones. We have nine people in my department and we average about 4 Just Do Its a month. This doesn't leave us much to talk about.

We've adopted our own format, which is really just open to discussion, if anyone has anything to talk about. Some days we get into great discussions about an issue someone is having, or putting together a team-building exercise. Other days, nothing. We have certain people who never speak up, and others who always do. I'm trying to find a way to make this more engaging and somehow get everyone to play a role. We assigned a safety position to one team member, but he never brings anything up. Our analyst talks about system issues, and he does well. But the rest of them are bumps on a log. I try being lively and engaging, but I think they look at me like I'm just crazy and pray for the end of the meeting. I tried making everyone rotate who leads the meeting; they half-heartedly went through the motions until it was over. I thought about developing roles and throwing them into a hat. Each month you get a new role and you report on "something" at the meeting related to your role. I think they would all hate me if I did that, though.

This is what happens when you have meetings for meetings' sake, rather than because there are specific things that need to be talked about. I'm not surprised you're finding that some days you have nothing to talk about if you're having meetings just because you're being required to.

Rather than trying to find a way to fill time, why not push back on whoever imposed this requirement and either explain that it's wasting people's time or get advice on how to make the time do what it's intended for? If that doesn't work, don't resort to making up things for people to talk about -- convene, see if anyone has anything for discussion, and if they don't, adjourn the meeting and let people get back to work.

3. Interviewers who make no effort to sell you on the job.

Over the past few years, I keep experiencing interviews where the company makes no attempt to sell me on the job. Is this a trend?

Last week, I foolishly went on an interview where there was no job description -- I kept being promised the recruiter would get it to me, but it never appeared. I assumed I'd have a chance to ask lots of questions in the interview to figure out the job, but I had no time to even ask a question about the interview process! No time was spent selling me on the job or the company either, just softball management style questions. What is up with that?

What's up with that is bad interviewing, and interviewers who forget that part of the point of the hiring process is for candidates to decide if they even want the job; it's a two-way street. But if you're ever offered a job and haven't yet had a chance to get your own questions answered, it's perfectly fine to say, "I really appreciate the offer. I have some questions about the job that we didn't have a chance to cover when I interviewed. Is now a good time to ask those, or could we set up a time to talk in the next day or two?"

4. My volunteer role has become full-time and I want to be paid.

I am a stay-at-home mom who has volunteered for ten years at my church. I started just helping with a flyer and then little by little doing more. I am bilingual, so I started helping as an interpreter/translator. As this required more time, they started paying me something just as a token of appreciation.

In September, we got a new pastor, and since then I have been working such extensive hours that I feel it is a full-time job -- just not paid. I've been taking all that weight because I didn't want the foreign community to feel lost. Many people have been commenting, even at the church office, about the load I have, and that I should get paid. A bilingual associate priest is going to start soon, and I want to speak up that if I am going to keep doing all that I do -- which I really enjoy -- they need to start paying me. But I am clueless how to do it. I'm feeling very down because I am very qualified: I have a degree (from a foreign country), I speak fluently both languages, I am computer literate, have people skills, and also really care about the community here, but I don't know how to approach this, much less what salary to negotiate.

Definitely speak up. But realize that they're giving you more and more work because you're agreeing to it; it's not fair to resent them for something you're agreeing to and haven't told them you're not happy with. So talk to them. You could say something like, "I really enjoy the work I do here and think providing interpreting services to our members is crucial. However, I'm now averaging X hours per week and can't keep that up without a real salary. Is that something the church would be open to working out?"

When you say this, be prepared for the possibility that the answer will be no. In many situations like this, a volunteer is doing valuable work and the organization is glad to have it done, but if it becomes something they need to find room for in their budget, it will lose out to higher financial priorities. If that happens, your next step is to let them know what you are and aren't willing to continue doing. You just need to be clear with them about what you're willing to offer.

5. Managers and the possessive tense.

I have a new manager who has placed his desk in the middle of the room, and conducts all of his conference calls in a rather loud fashion. In doing so, he constantly refers to the employees (myself and my peers) as "his" -- e.g. "my team," "my testers," "my people."

Am I wrong to feel a bit demeaned that my new manager is placing himself as a king among the common employee? His self-placement of prominence above those that he rules is causing quite a bit of resentment among "we the people."

Eh. I don't love "my people," but it's a far from uncommon way of speaking. Focus on the way he actually manages -- does he set clear expectations, give useful feedback, recognize good work, ensure you have the resources needed to do your job? That's what really matters.

Want to submit a question of your own? Send it to alison@askamanager.org.