Son isn’t the businessman that dad used to be

Q: I have for years been the parts guy at our local dealership. This has always been a great job for me. I have looked forward to heading out to work in the morning and I have made some really nice contacts with our regular customers.

But things are changing. It is not as great a place to work as it once was. The problem is that our former owner/manager retired and sold the business to his son. At the time we did not think anything of it. The boy had been in the business most of his life and we were certain that once he took over it would be pretty much the same as it was when his Dad was here.

But it isn’t. I don’t know if things have gone to the young guy’s head or what, but he is changing just about everything around, and for no good cause. The place was working fine before he came along. At the moment it is not as good a place to work that it once was. I don’t want to leave this job, but I am not happy with everything that is going on. What do you suggest that I do?

A: Thank you for the letter. I can make a couple of suggestions for you that may or may not work but, let’s face it, if things at work are that bad and you are finding the stress of new management intolerable you might have to start looking around for a new position. Give the following a few thoughts:

What do you think is driving your new boss? Is he in some way competing with his dad, trying to prove to all of you that he can step into the old man’s boots? If you think that is what is going on, why don’t you give him a pat on the back every now and then? My guess is that a little recognition from you and the other guys on staff will go along way to easing the tensions the new boss is bringing into the work place.

What do you actually like about your job? It sounds like you have some pride in knowing all there is to know about the Parts Department and all there is to know about your customers. No matter what your new management says, you can take some pride in all of that and tell yourself what a great job you are doing. If you can’t get rewarded from the company you can at least reward yourself.

Try listening as carefully as you can to your new manager. My guess is that he is not overly confident in what he is saying much of the time. The more you can help him clarify what he wants both from you and your buddies, the easier it will be for all of you to keep your performance ratings up there.

Don’t get caught in petty criticisms. Often when a new manager is struggling to fulfill the demands of his position the other guys in the coffee room slip into a number of snide comments. Don’t go there. Sarcasm will do nothing to ease the situation and will leave you feeling not so great about yourself. It is one of those “lose/lose” propositions.

Try having a talk with your new manager. I mean a real talk, not just a few off hand comments in the shop. Ask him for a time and a place where the two of you can meet and you can talk about some of your struggles with the changes he is trying to implement. 

Finally, keep your eyes on the help wanted column in the newspaper. There are in fact other great jobs out there. There is nothing wrong with exploring them. Knowing the job market, and where you might go if things don’t work out where you are now, does wonders for your self-confidence. And isn’t it amazing how your job satisfaction goes all the way up when your self confidence is getting a bit of a boost.

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