Interrelationships within the business

Processes, scripts and scenarios to handle typical issues in the workplace.

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Tom is 18 and joined the business after being referred by his father, Dave, who has been a loyal and hardworking employee for over 20 years. It’s Tom’s first job since leaving school and he is not performing well.  He is late for work on a regular basis and his manager reports he is always joking around and is not at all productive.

Tom has been with the organisation for 12 weeks. Dave wants to know how Tom is going and asks “As a mate, how is my boy going? Hope he is not causing too much trouble. You know what it’s like when you start– it’s hard to find your feet.” Dave knows you well, in fact, when you started he was assigned to you as a mentor and before you moved divisions, he was your manager.

Dave mentions to you in the discussion that Tom loves working here and that they love being able to work together in such a great company.


It is reasonable to expect a father to be curious about a son’s performance in his first role. You explain to Dave that as an employer you have a duty to respect the privacy of every employee and discussing one employee’s performance with another person, despite the fact that they may be related, would be inappropriate.

  • As a business, acknowledge that there is a different personal relationship between these two employees within the workplace they are two employees both adults and should be treated as such.
  • Then be very clear that whilst you are good friends and work colleagues it would be a breach of privacy and employer duties to discuss the behavior of any employee with another employee.
  • It is irrelevant that employees are relatives, the same rules apply.
  • Do not agree to follow up or indulge in further conversations.


You listen to Dave as he may have something relevant to Tom’s current performance that you should know.  However, you do not share your thoughts about Tom such as why he may be regularly late and why he may be less productive than others. You do not share any of this with any other employee including his father Dave.

  • Listen and appreciate the perspective.
  • Remain firm and polite. A safe reply is “I simply cannot discuss any other employee with you. It would be morally and ethically wrong.”


You evaluate Tom based on the facts around how specific performance and do not take into consideration anything Dave may have said or Dave’s performance and standing within the business. Tom and Dave must be treated like every other employee – as individuals despite their family relationships.  To treat them any differently would be to show bias and that is unfair to the rest of the workforce.

  • Ensure it is understood that whilst he does have relatives in the business this is a matter between employee and employer and is not discussed with anyone else. Assure no discussion has been had with any relatives.
  • The employee may chat to their relatives about the conversation the answer remains the same should you be approached by a relative again. It’s a matter that remains between employee and employer.

4. ACT

You ask Tom to attend a meeting and that you wish to discuss his employment since the time that he has joined the team. You only talk about Tom. You make no reference to how great his father Dave is. Again, it is critical that you treat Tom as an individual employee and only discuss his work ethic and performance as you see it. Discuss facts only, such as days and times demonstrating his being late and other incidents that show Tom is not adhering to work policies and procedures.


You set a review date as Tom is still well within probation and as such you must determine if he is going to remain beyond the probation period.

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Supervisor or Manager?Young Employee?