Ask "Z"

Never shut off the idea spigot

August 13, 2020
Q: I have a loyal employee who does a good job with every task that is assigned to him. One problem: Every original idea he’s ever suggested is absolutely terrible and he has not even a smidgen of clever, original thinking. Yet it would be quite awkward to actively disinvite him from brainstorming meetings or cut him from group projects. What to do?

Lights … camera … awkwardness

July 9, 2020
Q: Our staff has been given a project to record dozens of short first-person presentations on video. We’ve found that a few folks are depressingly wooden, formal, and uneasy on camera. Is there a simple way to snap them out of their stage awkwardness?

Social justice: yes, get involved

July 9, 2020
Q: At work there’s been a lot of discussion about social justice issues, and several of my employees have said that talking about it is not enough; we should be doing something about them. What actions can and should we take?

Shouldn’t we place more value on our values?

June 10, 2020
Q: We have our company’s core values plastered all over the place, but little by little you can sense that they’re being pushed aside in the name of profit and expediency. This has happened in more than one place I’ve worked. How do I call attention to this without seeming like a complainer or a troublemaker? I can just hear it now: “That’s what you’re bothering us with?”

Make working from home work for everyone

May 14, 2020
Q: Before the coronavirus hit, our company had less than half of its employees working remotely. Now everyone is working off-site and many people have been struggling with it. What are your thoughts on a strategy to make this work for all involved?

Tell the truth, warts and all?

May 14, 2020
Q: Our company took a hit financially. So far, no layoffs, but I don’t know what the future will hold. Should I just be blunt with staff about our tenuous position and risk further damage to morale, or should I be silent and hope that we’ll pull through?

She’s great! When should I tell her?

April 9, 2020
Q. One of my workers is a high-potential employee whom I am seriously considering grooming for a VP job. My question is, should I inform her now, or wait until she proves herself a bit more? If I tell her now then I probably owe it to her; if I wait, I’m liable to lose her to another employer. Your thoughts?

‘Pedal’ the truth

April 9, 2020
Q. A few employees asked me if the company would “invest” in under-desk exercise cycles. They cost about $170 apiece. If we buy these for several employees, it would likely open a floodgate of more workers wanting them, setting us back thousands of dollars. Things like these are faddish and I could honestly see them going unused. Should I get them for what amounts to a short-term morale boost?

The next great Lifetime movie

March 11, 2020
Q. I’m a single female VP (it took me 10 years to rise up) who is romantically attracted to a charming male subordinate. We have a strict no-fraternization policy. I love my job and I’m falling in love with him. I know I can’t have both. Help!

Feeling the fire’s heat

March 11, 2020
Q. I received a directive from above to “find a reason to fire” a worker I hired several years ago. This person did nothing wrong from what I see, but the powers-that-be must have their reasons why they no longer want him employed here. Should I demand an explanation from them, or should I work on the termination?