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Dear Workforce What Do I Do About the Owner’s Daughter

September 7, 2011

Dear In the Middle:

Based on your statement that the owner hired her, it appears that the daughter reports to him. Perhaps he communicated to her that she does have some authority. Under the circumstances of her having been hired by the owner and being a family member, it's not clear who her boss is. Therefore you should first go to the owner, ask for clarity about her role, provide him with specifics about the problem and how it's affecting the business, and let him know what you, as the manager, intend to say to her.

Ask him how he feels about it. If he is supportive, go ahead and meet with her. If he decides to meet with her himself, offer your support to him. Before either of you meet with her, reach agreement about what you will do if the behavior continues.

If you are the one who meets with her, here are some steps you may find useful in the conversation.

1) Remember to let your sincere concern for the business drive what you say.

2) Describe, objectively, what you see going on and how those things are affecting the business.

3) Express your desire to support the success of the business and how important her role is.

4) Clearly describe what she needs to change and ask for her commitment to do so.

5) Tell her that you will support her by coaching her when you see ineffective behavior.

6) Let her know that she must resolve these problems quickly in the interest of the business, and that if she fails to do so, her negative impact on the business will require you to take further steps--whatever you and the boss decided beforehand.

7) Sincerely communicate your desire that she succeed.

8) Schedule a follow-up meeting in a week or so to discuss how she's doing, but don't wait until then to meet if the problem doesn't improve significantly.

Good luck.

SOURCE: Kevin Herring, president, Ascent Management Consulting, Tucson, Arizona, Feb. 12, 2003.

LEARN MORE: Read a Dear Workforce article onavoiding the appearance of nepotism.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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