Secret Diary of an Entrepreneur: I blame Gen Y

A junior employee tells me she can't work with her manager. What does she expect me to do?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I had a remarkable meeting with one of my junior staff this week. Catching me at an unguarded moment, she dragged me into a meeting room, and proceeded to announce that she could no longer work with her manager - who happens to be Ace, my senior sales guy.

I have to say I was a bit taken aback. Not to discover that there was a problem - he spends enough time moaning about her attitude to make that abundantly clear. More that she would have the cheek to drag the boss to one side and start issuing ultimatums. I mean, what does she expect me to do? Take her side over his, and start drafting his P45?

I do have some sympathy for her. It's that age-old problem with him: all the things that make him a great salesman (drive, single-mindedness, thickness of skin etc) are not terribly conducive to being a good, emotionally intelligent manager. I know perfectly well that he can rub people up the wrong way sometimes, because he's done it to me. So I can well believe that this is partly his fault (and it'll certainly be added to the 'constructive feedback' column for his next review - always a good way of keeping his ego in check).

On the other hand, he's also about three million times more important to the business than some wet-behind-the-ears junior marketer. So in the grand scheme of things, you can probably guess whose side I'm going to take.

What's more, it annoys me when people are so aggressive about stuff like this; it's like they think the principal purpose of this place is to make them feel good about themselves. And I'm convinced it's a sign of the times. I wouldn't have dreamed of complaining about my boss when I was doing my first job. I suppose it might have been different if he had come on to me. But if I just didn't like him much, or if I thought he didn't like me, I'd have just bitten my lip and got on with it - perhaps tried to reach some kind of accommodation. I wouldn't have demanded an entire organisational restructure.


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