How do I tell him they want to let him go
September 25, 2012 3:41 PM   Subscribe

I work on a small office, my stepson also works there. He is bright but for some reason his performance is poor, he makes a lot of mistakes that costs money, and doesn't care about the job at all. The office manager told me today that they don't let him go because they hope my stepson will find another job soon and leave (he just finish a MBA) but asked me not to tell anyone. The problem is that I don't think he is looking for another job. I don't want to involve my husband. I think my stepson has a great opportunity of looking for job while he has this one. What would be the best way to get him to know it without breaking my promise of not telling anyone? Thanks!
posted by 3dd to Human Relations (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Regardless of promises, if you tell him, you're jeopardizing your own job by doing exactly what your office manager told you not to do. It was a stupid move on behalf of the office manager, but that's neither here nor there. Sometimes the only way to get through to a person is a swift kick in the ass, and that's what is about to happen here. It is unfortunate that he's going to get canned, but if he keeps making mistakes and doesn't give a shit, well, that's on him as a grown adult. The best you can do is say "hey, if you hate this job so much, maybe you should start looking for another one," but that's about it. Any clearer of a hint, and it's your ass on the line.
posted by griphus at 3:46 PM on September 25, 2012

(I'm going under the assumption that he knows he's making regular and costly mistakes and that he's been warned before.)
posted by griphus at 3:48 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I once worked at a small family-owned law office, and frankly, there were no secrets there. I suspect they told you so that you could pass it onto your stepson. So that there would be no messy firings going on. I would also not keep it a secret from my husband, actually. What for? How would you feel if the shoe was on the other foot? I'd be blabbing it as soon as I got home from work, actually. It's family.

At the very least, take your stepson out to lunch on a weekend and give him a heads up. If he doesn't listen, then wash your hands of the deal.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:49 PM on September 25, 2012 [11 favorites]

he has been warned many times but I guess he just doesn't get it.
posted by 3dd at 3:50 PM on September 25, 2012

And to go on the assumption that he doesn't know. You 'might' be able to say, "hey, not really my business, but I kinda noticed you have been making some mistakes. Might want to correct them before they start getting too noticed."

But don't tell him what your manager said. Stay out of that part.
posted by Vaike at 3:53 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Son, given the number of warnings you've had about your performance, you might think about looking for a new job before you have to. No, I don't know anything specific, but I'm an adult and I can see when someone's about to be shown the door."

"Boss, you gotta do what you gotta do. If you need to let him go, I'll understand."

Wash hands of whole mess.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:54 PM on September 25, 2012 [18 favorites]

This situation is not of your making. As a side point, as the office manager is probably (as someone else suggested) getting you to nudge the person for them in an ethically dubious way, you may in the long run consider whether you want to stay working there yourself.
posted by Wordshore at 4:20 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

The only way I can interpret this is that the office manager was telling you, basically:

"Look, your stepson is crap for the company and kind of a slacker, and we don't want him around anymore. But we're reluctant to fire him because we like you, and we suspect that firing your stepson will make you mad. Please go home and tell your stepson to either step up--BIG TIME--or start looking for another job, pronto. I don't know how much longer we can deal with him, no matter how much we like you."
posted by phunniemee at 4:30 PM on September 25, 2012 [13 favorites]

Oh, and as to the "don't tell anyone" bit, unless the office manager told you specifically not to tell your stepson, I would interpret that as, "don't tell anyone else in the office about this because we don't want them to think we're giving you two special treatment."
posted by phunniemee at 4:33 PM on September 25, 2012 [7 favorites]

Given the specifics, I'd go back to the manager & tell them to fire him if they're going to. It's on ss, not you, & you think they should do what's best for the business irregardless of your familial relationship.

I'd hope my parents would do the same thing, especially if I'm an MBA & still a shitty employee.
posted by tilde at 4:41 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Did the manager tell you not to tell your stepson? Otherwise, I would interpret the "Don't tell anyone" as "Don't tell anyone else in the office."

On preview, what phunniemee said - both of the comments.
posted by xmts at 4:49 PM on September 25, 2012

They're trying to avoid firing him and having to pay unemployment costs and are willing to fuck up your home life to do so. Don't play along. Keep it to yourself and if its brought up again say "I really don't feel comfortable with you sharing info about another emp with me, even if he is family. Especially because he's family. "
posted by phearlez at 4:58 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your office manager put you in this untenable situation - put it back on them. Tell them you've seen nothing from your stepson to indicate that he's looking for another job and they should do what's right for the organization based on that information.

Its up to you whether you tell your stepson his job is in jeopardy, but Lyn already provided the script. Honestly though I'm not sure how you broach this with your stepson without involving your husband. Also note if he gets let go for performance issues then avoiding your husband may not be possible (think "Honey was he doing a bad job? Why didn't you say something?")

I think this is a family conversation that may be best addressed head on. I think trying to avoid your husband's not doing anyone any good.
posted by bitdamaged at 4:59 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Depends on your office culture, but I'd tell your employer that you prefer to keep home and work separate, but to fire his ass if they see fit.

Also, talk to your husband. This is his child and you shouldn't have to bear this alone.
posted by futureisunwritten at 5:07 PM on September 25, 2012

Take the kid aside and tell him bluntly:

"This job doesn't want you, and you clearly don't want it. Find another before you have to explain why this one fired you".

If he doesn't take it seriously at that point, let your manager know to kick him to the curb, no hard feelings will result.
posted by pla at 5:21 PM on September 25, 2012 [9 favorites]

The office is hoping your stepson will find another job. You can tell him you think he ought to look for another job without adding the part about how the office thinks his performance is bad, because it sounds like they've already communicated that to him multiple times.

As far as I can see it does not break your promise to talk to him about finding another job, and if he continues to keep his head in the sand.... well, I don't think that you are at fault here.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:24 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

As an aside, FWIW, your office manager didn't tell you in the hopes you would really keep it confidential. S/he may not want it public knowledge, but you can consider that as a sort of disavowable request that you encourage him to GTFO ASAP.
posted by pla at 5:42 PM on September 25, 2012

yeap, looks like they are asking me to be the messenger here, and I know they don't want to piss me off by firing him, even though I already told them once to go ahead and fire him. I like the idea of presenting it to my ss as pla said, find another job before you have to explain why you got fired. I think that will make him move quickly. Thanks everyone for your valuable perspectives.
posted by 3dd at 6:35 PM on September 25, 2012

FWIW, once, I watched a co-worker get fired, and afterwards, as she was packing things up, she said to me, "they never mentioned that they were unhappy with my performance." The thing is, because I sat next to her, I also witnessed her receiving multiple reprimands for her performance (I still remember the wording, too.)

For some people, it just doesn't sink in that they're being told to shape up or ship out.

Personally, I think it's really unpleasant that the OM has turned their professional problem into your personal problem, especially since you've already told them that they should do what they think is best. I agree that they're trying to avoid firing him because it's more expensive that way, and they're trying to leverage your personal relationship for their own financial gain. Don't kid yourself that they're keeping him on because of you.
posted by endless_forms at 8:36 AM on September 26, 2012

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