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Our CEO wants to hire his girlfriend to do some design work. Our company (~15 people) is located overseas, and the CEO spends about half of his time back in the States, but he’s going to be here for a while this time. His girlfriend is coming over to visit, and I just found out he wants to hire her to do some part-time design work.

Since she’d be re-doing the design of a system I’ve made, I’m naturally concerned about being put into a position where I can’t disagree.

We normally have a strict & involved hiring policy, and I’m concerned that she’s going to be going around that. Even if she does go through the normal procedure, I’m concerned that nobody will have the guts to say no, since the CEO will know who it was that stopped her application.

I’ve already mentioned that I think it’s unusual & inappropriate to hire girlfriends of employees, but things seem to be progressing anyway. What can I do?

I’m willing to make waves about this, but it would be great if there were a well-respected / well-written explanation for why this is bad practice. I haven’t been able to find any really convincing and clear explanation I could use to make this point.

closed as unclear what you're asking by Jim G., gnat, Joe Strazzere, jcmeloni, IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 4 '14 at 14:03

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  • Don't you think she is qualified? – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jun 4 '14 at 6:12
  • I don't know anything about her - none of us have met her except the CEO. – anoncowardo Jun 4 '14 at 8:56
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    So this is not a question about her not being qualified, but about you not wanting to lose control of your pet system? – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jun 4 '14 at 9:20
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    I have worked in this situation before. It was not pretty. You are right to have a concern, but others are right to point out that she might in fact be qualified. Do realize that if you get this person on your side, she has a direct line to the CEO and can help you get your ideas implemented, so it is worth it to at least try to work well with her. If she is completely incompetent then the best you can do is understand it is his business to run and if that is how he makes decisions, then it may be time to move on. Either that or you may end up doing her job for her as well as your own. – HLGEM Jun 4 '14 at 14:16
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    Direcctly opposing this person is likely to be what we call a career limiting move. – HLGEM Jun 4 '14 at 14:17
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First you say this:

His girlfriend is coming over to visit, and I just found out he wants to hire her to do some part-time design work.

Then you say this:

Since she’d be re-doing the design of a system I’ve made, I’m naturally concerned about being put into a position where I can’t disagree.

She’s part-time. And she’s your boss’ girlfriend. And what else?

The reality is family & friends get hired in different gigs all the time. You shouldn’t fear her for being the girlfriend of your boss unless she proves herself to simply be riding on nepotism.

I’m willing to make waves about this, but it would be great if there were a well-respected / well-written explanation for why this is bad practice.

You should be open minded, assume good faith & let her work with you. You cannot presume you will change her hiring & a “well-respected / well-written explanation” adds up to not much. Assume good faith. But document all encounters.

And you know what? For all you know, she could be very open minded about your work & can actually be an advocate for you when talking to your boss. So don’t assume the worst of a case like this. This could work in your favor.

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    I'd like to add that to be on the safe side, keep records/e-mails of all the work (if any) you do with her. If the boss is going to overlook or hide problems created by her, then you need to be prepared for that. – Borat Sagdiyev Jun 4 '14 at 4:30
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    You only should worry about friends & family being hired after a problem occurs. Until you see senior staff giving preferential treatment, etc. There is no problem. I used to work in a family owned business I will say in that office if anything family was treated with higher scrutiny. (That and having your boss visit because you married his daughter as regularly as close families tend to is pretty miserable) – RualStorge Jun 4 '14 at 13:20
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You assume that she is a competent professional, unless the facts point to a different conclusion. It is still incumbent on you to work effectively with her in the redesign of the systems. Because you'll have to live with the consequences of her redesign after she leaves. If she is competent, enhance her competence. If she is not competent, work to mitigate any damage she may produce. As a professional, I don't let myself be intimidated by management including the CEO let alone the CEO's close relations including the CEO's girlfriend.

I suggest that you hold your fire, size her up and assist her in the successful completion of her task to the utmost of your ability. You may end up having both to train her and to educate her on why you designed things the way you did. I suggest that you act with restraint, self-confidence, good cheer and with every intention that you will support her in the successful completion of her task,and that you don't take the easy way out by automatically dismissing her, her capabilities and her intellect simply because she is the CEO's girlfriend. Because if she fails and her failure can be traced in any way to a failure on your part to back her up, the blame will fall squarely on you. Capice? You work with what you've got. The propriety or lack of propriety of her selection by the CEO to carry out this task is irrelevant.

On the more positive side, she may very well enjoy the experience of working with you and may become a valuable ally in your dealings with the CEO.

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Since she’d be re-doing the design of a system I’ve made, I’m naturally concerned about being put into a position where I can’t disagree.

It is a problematic situation, you are right, but let's see the facts:

  • She didn't prove herself yet, she might be good workforce, flexible and negotiable.
  • The fact that she is the girlfriend of your boss don't qualify her in any way or form. She will be your collegue just like anybody else (except you shouldn't woo her).

The good attitude:

  • Be polite with her. Assume she is not different than anybody else.
  • Give her a chance. Same applies here.
  • If she makes mistakes, tell her how to improve, and help like you help to anybody else.
  • Be honest with your boss if she is doing series mistakes, and she doesn't improve.

I would like to stress out, if you don't say it, you support bad deceisons and living together with them. If your boss gets angry, and punishes you, that is a good sign to look after different job. It is the boss' job to hire or apply right people to the right places in his project.

The worst case scenario is his fault, and you can find an another job if this is the case. Better to get into a conflict with your boss than just passively suffer from incompetence.

On the other hand if the boss listens you and you have facts to talk about, then you are getting ensured about you have a good and objective thinking boss, and that is a very good moment put a lot of faith in him.

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