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Harvard Business Review: How To Manage Someone Who’s Related to the Boss

As a manager in a large organization, your success doesn’t just rely on your team’s results. It also depends on your boss and other senior executives’ evaluations of your leadership style. Your advancement potential is assessed, in part, by how you treat your direct reports. So, when senior leaders suggest being tougher with an underperforming employee or more supportive of someone with high potential, you take their feedback seriously. But what happens when one of your employees is related to a senior executive in your company?

Managers in family-owned companies traditionally defer to the owners for most business and leadership decisions without hesitation. But managers in non-family-owned companies who are working between a senior executive and a family member are expected to lead and influence while navigating a politically sensitive map of stakeholders. If this happens to you — and it’s likelier than ever, since over a third of employees today landed their job through referrals, most commonly through a family member — you may encounter dilemmas that go beyond common management challenges.

For instance, you may never feel confident around your direct report, despite your authority. A recent study showed that two in every three managers already find it uncomfortable to communicate with their employees, and over 30% of leaders worry about giving feedback to employees for fear of how they will respond. Imagine the additional discomfort when discussing the performance of a son, niece, or spouse of a C-suite leader in your company.

Read the rest of this article in Harvard Business Review.

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