I've been working at the same company for 8 years. Initially I started as a junior manager and reported to the general manager of the department. The general manager left as he became bored and complacent, this reflected in his performance .

A year after his departure I was promoted to the general manager position. I have done this successfully for 3 years. A junior manager has resigned and the owner is insisting that his friend come on board as his replacement reporting to me.

He is qualified but my concerns are, he got complacent and left the business in a state of disrepair, he was a yes man while he was in the GM role, you can be certain any conversation you had with him was reported back to the owner of the business, he used to be my boss and mentor, his friendship with the owner I believe is a conflict of interest.

I have raised my concerns with the owner who has said he is not a threat and will only improve the business and solidify the management team. I think there may be an ulterior motive.

How should I handle this situation?

  • Not a chance I am resigning from this position. Brilliant company, fantastic Brand, exceptional people and customers and above all a culture and way of doing business that is unique In the industry I work.
    – Johnnyd
    Dec 11, 2016 at 13:48
  • "I was promoted to the general manager position" - Who promoted you? The owner himself? Do you have any hint that he regrets that decision? Dec 11, 2016 at 17:45
  • The owner promoted me, he has said that I have excelled in the role and improved the business substantially since taking over. He believes that because I had a junior manager in the role reporting to me I spent a considerable amount of time developing and training him. Therefore a more seasoned person in the role will allow me to focus more on other areas. Strategy rather than process. Logic is sound but the owner is a good Poker player never shows his cards.
    – Johnnyd
    Dec 12, 2016 at 12:49
  • To be clear, this is not just the owner's friend, but also the original GM who you eventually replaced? Jun 23, 2017 at 17:21

3 Answers 3


It sounds like you are dwelling on the past. I'd suggest that you treat him like a regular employee. If he does his job, then fine. If he does not do his job or want to do his job, you replace him.

If you can't replace him due to nepotism, then that is where you have a real problem. At that point it becomes him or you.

In addition, during the 3 years that you have been general manager, what has this boss's friend done? Has he remained the same, or has he turned his life around? Unless you know the answer to that question in detail (and it sounds like you may not) I feel you should be giving this guy the benefit of the doubt.

  • 1
    @Johnnyd Unless you have complete hiring authority without influence from you boss, I'd say you already have no option.
    – Peter M
    Dec 11, 2016 at 13:39
  • If left with no option I will absolutely give him a chance to start fresh. I should probably add that his original complacency and performance issues were raised by me approx 6 months prior to his resignation. It was raised with the owner and subsequently in person with him directly explaining that his inactions and complacency were affecting the performance of other departments. He took it on board and actually thanked me Then 6 months later resigned. Since hehas been in the same Industry working in the same Middle management role which I am hiring for. Has had 4 Jobs in the last 3 years
    – Johnnyd
    Dec 11, 2016 at 13:44
  • Having knowledge of this I question the motive for the owner to onboard this person. My performance in the role is not an issue as this has been discussed.
    – Johnnyd
    Dec 11, 2016 at 13:50
  • 1
    @Johnnyd Well it sounds like the only way you get to vote on the owner's opinion is to leave or stay yourself.
    – Peter M
    Dec 11, 2016 at 14:01

Eight years with the company and three years as general manager should represent enough experience to handle this guy properly. The situation is unusual but not untenable. Begin by acting as if you assume that the old-new guy has solved all the problems he exhibited in the past, and recall each problem only if and when you assemble new evidence for it.

He left the business in a state of disrepair. - Well, apparently the owner has forgiven him. You have repaired the damage. Anyway, you should have proper checks and controls in place so a person in his position cannot damage the business.

He was a yes man while he was in the GM role. - Good. Now the old-new guy has to say yes to you. Just don't value his opinions until he says no a couple times.

You can be certain any conversation you had with him was reported back to the owner of the business. - You can test for this by telling him a tracer (something harmless and unique, that the owner could not possibly learn from any other source, that the owner is sure to mention to you). If the old-new guy is still a tattler, now you have a clandestine channel of communication with the owner.

He used to be my boss and mentor. - Irrelevant. You both must ignore this. If he is insubordinate, deal only with the current insubordination. And remember, you did not advance by stepping on him. He moved himself from above you to below you.

His friendship with the owner I believe is a conflict of interest. - Not nearly as much as if the owner had hired his friend who used to be your subordinate as your new boss.

You are correct to be concerned that the old-new guy might think that he can climb over you. But he is in a very weak position to do this. He has already demonstrated that he couldn't do your job, and four jobs in the last three years is good evidence that he still can't. Let's hope that you don't have to remind the owner of all this.

Instead, he probably is terrified that you will try to get him fired. You should hasten to reassure him that this is not the case. He probably knows that you campaigned to prevent his re-hiring, so tell him that that campaign is over and you now concur with the owner's decision.

Most of the important information that you want to impart to the old-new guy will be conveyed by nonverbal sub-text, so you need to get your own attitude well settled before you talk to him for the first time. Once you firmly decide how you want to deal with him, it won't matter much what words you use.

I think you attitude should be, out of respect for the owner you are willing to give his friend a job. You wish the old-new guy well and want him to have a happy life as long as he doesn't mess with you.


I think you have yourself worked up over something you have no control over.

This is the owner. He gets to hire and fire who he wants.

Conflict of interest? Uh, no. Even if his friend does not perform and he keeps him on that is not a conflict of interest. You seem to have difficultly with the concept of owner.

So what if there is an ulterior motive? As long as it is legal the owner gets to do what he wants.

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