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Career Q&A | By Marie G. McIntyre, McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

Managing the boss' child is tricky business

Q My boss, who owns the business, recently added her daughter to our staff. Since "Tammy" would be reporting to me, she asked how I felt about this. I said I would treat her daughter just like any other employee. Unfortunately, I forgot to consider how she might react if I did that.

At first, Tammy and I had a good working relationship. However, I soon began receiving complaints from clients about mistakes that she made. When I mentioned these issues to my boss, she seemed to understand and did not overreact.

The problems continued, so I finally had to call Tammy in for a performance discussion. She said I was picking on her and complained to her mother. When I provided documentation of Tammy's errors, my boss became furious and said I should not be keeping a file on her daughter.

Now I'm not sure what to do. How can I manage Tammy without committing career suicide?

A: Supervising the boss' child is almost always a no-win proposition. When it comes to their offspring, even the most rational managers might have strong protective instincts that override their objectivity.

To walk this particular tightrope, you will need to talk with your boss before taking any action with Tammy. That way, you can gauge her reaction and modify your plans accordingly. Since your manager has shown signs of being a reasonable person, you might also consider discussing the unique challenges posed by this family bond.

For example: "To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how to handle supervising my boss' daughter. Because of Tammy's special connection to you, we obviously can't have the customary manager-employee relationship. Do you have any thoughts about the best way to approach this situation?"

Unfortunately, most managers who hire their relatives fail to develop a plan for keeping family relationships separate from business relationships.

Fired again and wondering why

Q I was recently fired from a three-month contract job after one week. The human resources manager said I was "resistant to change." I was actually very open to suggestions. But, the person training me was a micromanager, and I was not comfortable working with him.

I have been through several similar terminations, and I'm sick and tired of dealing with these childish issues. How do I keep this from happening again?

A: To answer your question, I need to tell you something you probably don't want to hear. People who repeatedly experience the same difficulty must consider their role in creating the problem. For example, someone who has been married five times obviously has issues with selecting a mate or maintaining a relationship.

Since you have been fired from several jobs, it's time to recognize that you are the common factor in these failures. To break this destructive pattern and have a successful career, you must take a long, hard look in the mirror and identify the behaviors that are causing management to view you as a problem.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics."

Managing the boss' child is tricky business 02/19/11 [Last modified: Saturday, February 19, 2011 3:30am]
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