DEAR ABBY: Our family owns a bar in a resort community. I run it, along with my mom and two of my sisters. Added to that mix is one of my brothers-in-law, "Jeff." Jeff is the problem.
Jeff manages the bar some nights, and he is becoming increasingly difficult to work with. He does a good job of managing in most areas. However, he is impossible to talk to. At the ripe old age of 26, he has become a know-it-all. If he thinks he's being criticized, he becomes combative, bossy or defensive. He is also very sensitive, and frankly, very immature.
I understand that Jeff loves our business and is dedicated to his job, but the problem is the way he talks over everyone. He also likes to hold his position over employees, and his refusal to listen to what others have to say is making an impossible situation. If he wasn't a part of the family, he would not be working here in his current capacity.
I have tried explaining that he must choose his words more carefully, and that he needs to listen and be a part of the team rather than always "the boss," but nothing gets through. I'm reluctant to upset the natural balance of our family or hurt Jeff or my sister, but something must be done. We're losing good employees and customers because of his attitude. What can I do? -- TRYING TO SAVE THE BUSINESS
DEAR TRYING: You have failed to recognize that "the business" is an entirely separate entity from "the family," and must be treated as such. What you might tolerate from a family member is not always acceptable in business. Because, I assume, your family's livelihood depends upon the business, you have a duty to nurture it and, if necessary, prune away anything that might threaten it.
My advice is to call a meeting of your "shareholders" and stage an intervention with your brother-in-law. Make it plain that there must be an attitude adjustment effective immediately, or, much as you care about him, he will have to find other employment. Then act accordingly. Business is business.