Ask "Z"

Do I dare get crazy with my life?

November 10, 2021
Q: At 45, I’m considering leaving the corporate life for a year, maybe even two, to travel abroad with my mind completely clear, just to learn and expand my horizons. In your experience, is it ever self-sabotaging to make a leap like this in the hopes my future will take shape afterward?

How can a grumpy veteran lead a newbie?

October 13, 2021
Q: Sometimes I think I’m doomed as a leader because I listen to what far younger people are saying and I think, “You just don’t get it. You don’t have any life experience. Just wait 20 years and see if you still believe your nonsense.” Am I just a hopeless dinosaur?

For hotheads, establish ground rules

October 13, 2021
Q: I was ready to interview a potential CFO with excellent qualifications when one of his references mentioned that while he was terrific, he also had “a bit of a temper.” I figure that this means it’s actually a big one. How do I bring up my concerns in the interview?

Embroiled in a “Knives Out” situation

September 8, 2021
Q. The VP of our company was just let go, opening the door for my colleague to run roughshod over a key division, making sweeping changes and instigating “performance-based” layoffs. I can tell he’s delighting in the chance to turn the tables on people he perceives to be rivals. What can I say to this person to get him to exert some self-control before he crushes employee morale even as profits improve?

A lie is still a lie

August 16, 2021
Q: I read a study recently showing that the more often a lie is repeated, the more likely it is to be regarded as truth. Have you found this to be true?

Must… make… money… any… way… possible

August 16, 2021
Q: Recently we had a bit of an argument in our boardroom about our company’s habit of attempting what someone called “cynical cash grabs.” Someone actually said, “Well, what is a business but a series of cynical cash grabs?” Do you agree with that?

How can I help my employee think bigger?

July 14, 2021
Q: One of my trusted employees is a small-time thinker. She has such small ambitions, shoots so low … How do I get her to start thinking bigger about her role in the company’s future? She’s just too reliable, experienced and smart to lose.

Should you hire someone who’s critical right off the bat?

June 9, 2021
Q. I have a great job candidate who mentioned that he finds certain aspects of our hiring process intrusive and ineffectual. HR seems to think that this hints at a worrisome attitude. Even though the candidate may be right, should I be worried?

Old dogs should learn new tricks

March 10, 2021
Q. It seems that technology in the workplace is running away from me. The younger people in my company are using and embracing all these online productivity tools that I know little about, and I’m left in the dark. I’m in the twilight of my career and have little desire to learn all that. I’m sure there are many others who feel the same. Your thoughts?

Penalty flag on the office decor

January 13, 2021
Q: I’ve been a Washington Redskins fan for most of my life, and my office shows it—posters, helmet, throw-rug, etc. Now that we’re returning to the office, I’m wondering what my employees will think if I don’t remove the “Redskins” motif, now that the team dropped the offensive nickname. I’d like to keep all my memorabilia. What would you do?