Car-Fixer Nepotism

2 Dec

Letterbalm Auto Repair ShopDear LetterBalm: I operate an auto maintenance shop with four hard-working employees. All of us keep up with computerized repair trends, and the shop does a good business. The problem is my nephew, my brother-in-law’s son. He dropped out of college, moved back home and took a few courses at our community college. But he’s never graduated or found a job, and he lives off his parents. I think that the family just wants him to get on with his life, and they think I can motivate him. Against my better judgment, I took him on six months ago at my wife’s request. He’s angry and doesn’t take direction and suggestions well. He thinks he’s entitled because he’s related to the boss. I don’t want to cut him loose – in fact, he’s got a good mind and he has a knack for cars. What can I say to him?

–Gasoline Alley

You may turn out to be this young man’s path to a career. But tough love is called for, even as you walk a fine line. Ms. L.B. assumes you know his history – he doesn’t have severe ADHD or emotional/social anxiety issues that preclude a regular job. You don’t want to discourage your nephew, yet he is clearly in need of somebody to light a fire under him. Talk with him privately when your employees aren’t around. Don’t talk down to him, but tell it like it is, thusly:

Lennie, you’re one of the most naturally gifted workers to come through here in a long time, which is why I don’t understand your reluctance to learn more. You’ve got the brains and natural skill to be a first-rate technician. It’s a good skill to have, and it can give you the economic freedom to live a good life. You’ve seen how much business we do, even when the economy is tough. People need their cars. But if you commit to this, you have to follow my direction because, yes, I’m the boss and I run this place. Yet you’ve also seen me respect my workers and take their advice – I’ll learn from anyone, including you, who has good ideas. So, what’s it going to be? Will you work with me and for me, learn the ropes and make yourself a good career?

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One Response to “Car-Fixer Nepotism”

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