Ask "Z"

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?

The positives and negatives of revealing a positive test

December 9, 2020
Q: I tested positive for COVID-19 while in a long stretch of working remotely. All of us at the company are telecommuting through the winter, so I’m safely quarantined. They don’t know I’ve been stricken. Should I tell them? What would you do?

No bonuses are ruffling feathers

December 9, 2020
Q: In past years we were pretty generous with handing out bonuses to all employees. But this year, we told them our finances couldn’t support it. They are noticeably downtrodden over this. What can I do or say now?

Does she deserve a raise?

November 11, 2020
Q: I’ve been informed by some insiders that my administrative assistant is not happy with her salary. She has not approached me, but since I know what her tasks are and how she performs them, as well as what the going rate is for an admin in our market, she is compensated fairly. What can I tell her if she hits me up for a raise?