Future in-law needs a reminder who is boss

Your Office Coach: Offensive humor is no laughing matter

I own two retail stores, and one of them is managed by my son’s
girlfriend,

Sherry.

Eventually, I will probably become her mother-in-law. Sherry
worked for me several years ago with no problems, but this time
things are different.
Q:

I own two retail stores, and one of them is managed by my son’s girlfriend, “Sherry.” Eventually, I will probably become her mother-in-law. Sherry worked for me several years ago with no problems, but this time things are different. Although she is a wonderful manager with many assets, Sherry has become disrespectful and controlling. Whenever I bring a new product into her store or add items to the sale table, the result is a nasty confrontation.

We have previously agreed to compromise on product decisions, but Sherry’s idea of “compromise” is that I should have no input. I’m trying to remain positive, but I can’t figure out how to work with her peacefully.

Ironically, we get along just fine at family functions. How should I handle this?

A:

Sherry appears to have mentally moved herself from “employee” to “family member” and concluded that she no longer has to treat you like a boss.

Believing that her new status provides complete job security, she may see no reason to put brakes on her behavior.

As a manager and prospective mother-in-law, you face the challenge of regaining your managerial authority while maintaining a pleasant personal relationship. The first step is to have a straightforward conversation about this delicate balancing act. For example: “Sherry, we need to talk candidly about our unusual work situation. I’m very pleased that you have become part of the family, but it makes our relationship rather awkward. As the owner of this business, I have to be your friend and your boss at the same time.

“You’re doing a great job, and I value your opinions. I don’t expect us to always agree, but I do expect you to treat me with respect and abide by my decisions. Even though we’re like family outside of work, we still have to be manager and employee at the store. Do you see any problem with this?”

If Sherry is at all reasonable, she should recognize your right to have the final say in your own business. After she becomes your daughter-in-law, you can return the favor by respecting the decisions she makes in her own house.

Q:

In this tight job market, our small business is receiving a huge number of resumes. We had 132 applicants for our last open position. As the office manager, I simply don’t have time to respond to everyone who applies.

Some applicants have sent belligerent e-mails asking why they haven’t heard from me. Others have called and tried to badger me into giving them an interview. Do I have an obligation to reply to every single person?

A:

Very few employers acknowledge every application these days, so you have no reason to feel guilty. Although responding to everyone would be nice, high volume makes it unrealistic.

Fortunately, the candidates who send rude e-mails make your job a little easier, since anyone that stupid can be immediately screened out.

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