Help – My new boss is ruining the company

Dear Aunty,

We are a group of four colleagues who are desperately unhappy with the changes to our small family-owned company. The company used to be a relaxed place to work, until recently when our boss decided to employ his daughter. After just three months she was made Office Manager and the situation has since got worse.

She is a graduate with a good academic record but she has no idea how to manage an office. She is rude and aggressive and will not listen to us if we try to suggest ways to do things – in fact, she seems to do the opposite to what we suggest. We are now forced to complete time sheets so she can monitor how much work we do. We are even told off if she hears us chatting or if we take slightly too long for lunch.

How are we supposed to deal with this situation? We cannot report her behaviour to the owner because the problem we have is with his daughter.

Aunty says,

I can see how this is a difficult situation for you and your colleagues. The introduction of a manager with new ideas and new ways of working can often lead to disruption and unrest. This is further complicated because it is a family run firm and the new manager is his daughter.

I wonder if your new Office Manager is acting the way she is through fear and/or inexperience. It could be that she is feeling desperate to prove herself to her father because of the opportunity she has been given. It might also be the case that she has not yet worked out the best way to communicate with you and your colleagues and has not yet worked out the best way is to introduce her new policies and procedures. It is worth pointing out that the ideas that she has tried to introduce do not seem all that unreasonable – it is common place for employers to ask staff to complete timesheets (this helps them to understand work-flow, allocate resources and determine cost information), chat less and ensure that take the correct amount of time for lunch breaks.

The problem seems to be in the way that she has introduced these new policies and procedures by being rude and aggressive and these are problems that could arise in any company regardless of whether they are family-owned.

What are your options?

  1. Do Nothing. You could do nothing and hope that your new Office Manager will learn from her experiences, pick up on your unhappiness and develop into a better manager. Everyone makes mistakes and it could be that in time she will pick up on the unhappiness in the office, learn from her mistakes and adjust her management technique.
  2. Say Something. If there is an appraisal process you could make suggestions about how to improve the situation using this mechanism. If not, you could try writing down your grievances and calmly putting these (together with your suggestions on how things might be improved) to the new Office Manager and/or your boss. If you do choose this route it is important to stress that these are (a) only suggestions and that (b) they are aimed at improving the company as a whole rather than blaming anyone.

I know this situation is difficult for you and your colleagues and I hope that this advice will be of use to you. As always it would be useful to get the opinion of our community as I am sure that they will also have some ideas and personal examples that may be of use to you.


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