Q. My boss recently informed us that his son “Kyle” will be working here as an intern for several months. He then announced that Kyle will be reporting to me. This seems to have put me in a very uncomfortable position.
Apparently, my boss sweet-talked our CEO into approving this arrangement, so Kyle’s internship is a done deal. However, I have considered going to human resources to express my concerns about supervising my manager’s son. What do you think about this?
A. Since most people find it impossible to be objective about relatives, well-run companies don’t allow managers to oversee their family members. So when this decision was made, your malleable CEO wasn’t thinking too clearly. The good news for you, however, is that at least Kyle’s tenure appears to be time-limited.
Instead of taking your concerns to HR, try to head off potential problems by clarifying expectations with your boss. Your objective is not to complain but to agree on the type of internship sonny-boy should have.
For example: “Since Kyle will be interning with me, I would like to get your opinion about the most useful assignments for him and the best way to give him feedback. After he starts work, I can give you regular updates on his progress and see if you have any suggestions.”
Agreeing with your manager on appropriate tasks automatically invalidates any complaints from Kyle about his work. Establishing a feedback process will allow you to actually supervise his performance. And arranging for progress reports insures that your boss will hear your perspective as well as his son’s.
But remember that this scenario also has a positive side. If you and Kyle hit it off, your management skills might get a glowing review. So if you have an ounce of political intelligence, you will make every effort to see that this internship goes well.
Q. Our office shares a building with another business that has heavy seasonal demands. During busy periods, their employees occasionally come over to use our computers. Because this crowds the office and disrupts our routine, I have asked them to stop doing this.
These people are always very apologetic but the interruptions continue. Although I have mentioned this to my boss, he travels a lot and, therefore, doesn’t see the problem. What should I do?
A. Since you apparently lack the authority to resolve this issue, “mentioning” it to your boss won’t be sufficient. Instead, you should explain how these interlopers are affecting your work, then propose a solution and request permission to implement it.
For example: “When employees from next door take over our computers, we have trouble getting our own work done. I would like to tell them that this is no longer convenient and then password-protect the computers to limit their availability. Would that be OK with you?”
If your manager agrees, problem solved. But if he’s reluctant to cut off their access, perhaps he will at least allow you to ban the drop-ins and require scheduled visits.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”