Family issues complicated
Q: Our boss’s wife was recently given a position in our department. She now works two levels below her husband, “Rick,” who is the head of operations. This is clearly against the company’s nepotism policy, which states that no one shall have any supervisory authority over a family member. After several people complained, the human resources director said she would review the resumes of all applicants for the position. However, this hardly seems like the appropriate response for such a blatant policy violation. Rick’s wife should just be removed from the job. Some of us feel that Rick’s boss, the CEO, should be told about this problem, but we’re worried about possible retribution.
A: Let me extend my deepest sympathy to the unlucky soul who is now expected to supervise the boss’s wife. When the informal power of an employee exceeds the formal power of the supervisor, the management structure simply doesn’t work.
Objective decision-making becomes impossible. Whenever this woman makes a request, receives an assignment, or has a performance review, her manager will be considering Rick’s possible reaction. And no matter how competent or congenial she is, colleagues will inevitably resent her undue influence.
Unfortunately, however, Rick may already have the CEO’s approval, since only an idiot would hire his wife without first consulting his boss.
On the other hand, if Rick has managed to surreptitiously maneuver his wife onto the payroll, then the CEO deserves to know. Given the risks involved in ratting out your boss, this may be one time when an anonymous note would be the smartest strategy.
— Marie G. McIntyre, McClatchy- Tribune News
Keeping coveted employee
Q: Another director at my company is trying to get one of my best employees to join her team. He doesn’t want to, but I think they’re just going to reassign him anyway. What can I do?
A: You’re right at the intersection of corporate politics and personal preferences, and careful strategy is needed.
There are three parties involved — you, the other director and, above all, your team member. It is his life, after all. Map out everything you know about each person’s preferences, needs and concerns. Step back from time to time to be sure you’re not projecting what you want on your employee (to keep him), and that you are not casting your rival as villain. Do your best to see the situation through their eyes, also keeping in mind that you’re all there for the benefit of the company.
Think creatively about other solutions you could offer. If it’s a particular set of skills that are needed, are there other ways for the other director to obtain them? Would your employee be open to a temporary shift to do training?
If the tide is moving toward changing your team member’s role, you’ll have a harder path. Prepare a business case for keeping him in his current role, including his contributions and the risks to the team’s mission if he is transferred. Then talk to your boss about your concerns; if they are shared, then use your boss to get them escalated. Plan to be persistent, continuing to make your case as needed.
— Liz Reyer, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Q: I purchased a new Windows 7 laptop last June. It was much faster than my old PC. But now the startup is slowing down. Is this related to the number of programs that run during startup? How can I remove some of them?
A: I think you’ve inadvertently downloaded some junk software, possibly malicious, that is slowing down your system. Go to Malware Bytes.org and click “free download” for a program that will help get rid of junk programs and malicious software. After you run the program, be sure that your PC is protected by antivirus software.
— Steve Alexander, Minneapolis Star Tribune