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home : columns : ask the doctors October 27, 2020

9/1/2020 7:10:00 AM
Co-workers dubious about business owner's kid

DEAR HARRIETTE: I work for my family's business. My father is the head of our company. Staff whisper the typical stigma about me: If I weren't his son, I would not have my job or would not keep my job, and the only reason that I have succeeded in moving up in the company is because of, as a co-worker said, "my birthright." It is tough having to prove my worth to my co-workers every day just to be accepted by them because they feel we are different and they will never move up in the company like I have. I don't find that to be true. I know that if I were bad at my job, my father would remove me and give the job to someone else. At the same time, yes, this company is my family's legacy, and I deserve the chance to succeed. I do not want to feel guilty for this fact; I just want everyone else off my back. -- Singled Out

DEAR SINGLED OUT: You cannot control what people say about you, but you can control yourself. Make sure that your work is excellent -- always. Show up early, do your very best, be kind to your co-workers and exhibit your leadership skills. Encourage your co-workers to strive to be their best. And do your best to ignore their comments.

You can also talk to your father about the infrastructure of the company and opportunities for growth for other employees. If he believes there is a chance for anyone to rise up in the company, suggest that he make it known that there is room for growth. If he promotes someone other than you, it will demonstrate to the staff that he is fair -- even as he continues to groom you to run the business.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was asked to find a speaker at the last minute for a civic event that I am helping to host. I called in a favor and got a big-name person. That's great, but the details are kind of messy. And now my contact is frustrated. She is getting paid. How can I calm her down and keep things moving in the right direction without looking unprofessional? -- Rocky Start

DEAR ROCKY START: Be strategic and honest with this woman. Tell her how much you appreciate her willingness to participate in this event, and apologize for the challenges she has faced. Assure her that you will do all within your power to make sure that things go as smoothly as possible -- including getting her paid in a timely manner.

Then go back to your event people and reinforce the need to be professional. Remind them that you have used your personal contacts to help them secure this speaker and that it is important for you and the organization to handle the speaker and the event with professionalism. Ask them what you can do to help things to move more smoothly. Remind them that you need the speaker's check cut by the day of the event. Continue to be the liaison to ensure that you can handle whatever glitches may come. Do not discuss those details with your speaker. Keep internal machinations to yourself.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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