I Made a Huge Mistake

I Made a Huge Mistake

Hi Rhee,

I made a huge mistake and I’m not sure how to get myself out of it. Two years ago I lost the studio manager who had been with me from the time I started my school, 13 years ago. She was a delight to work with and I considered her my partner in crime because she had been through all the ups and downs with me. She was always loyal, and to this day she is one of my best friends.

In my search for a new manager, I asked a mother of one of my students to apply for the position. She was enthusiastic and in need of work hours that fit perfectly with the hours I needed her. Plus, I figured that as a mother of a student, she would be able to promote my school to potential students and explain our programs and policies better than someone who wasn’t associated with the school. All worked out well the first year. The following summer I attended your Project Motivate seminar, where you told us to be cautious about hiring students’ parents to work in the school because it can be a conflict of interest. I thought my situation was an exception to your words of wisdom, but you were right.

Today I have a studio manager who is trying to run my business. She tells me who should and shouldn’t be in her child’s class and pushes me to place her child at a higher level than the rest of the kids her age. Recently she told me that though she is aware that I don’t allow students under age 16 to do solos, she thinks I should make an exception for her 11-year-old. She believes that I will be holding her daughter back if I don’t.

Although she didn’t say it, I feel like she’s giving me an ultimatum to give in to her demands or she’ll look for another job for herself and another school for her daughter. Her daughter is talented, but so are many of her classmates. In no way is she ready to do a solo, nor would I go against my policy to let her.

I feel as though I need to end this, but my manager is a member of the school committee in my town and comes from a well-respected family in the community. I’m scared that she will badmouth me. How do I do this without making her my enemy? —Jill

Hi Jill,

Your situation is exactly why I tell school owners to be cautious about hiring parents of their students. I’m sorry that you weren’t the exception, because I have been proven wrong on this one a few times.

Forget about the fact that she’s on the school committee or that she knows a lot of people in town. Take action right away and let her go! You need to stick to your policies; they’ve obviously worked for you for many years. Your manager is not a team player; she’s only playing for the benefit of her daughter. She has to know that making an exception to your solo policy would bring you nothing but trouble; yet she doesn’t care. And who is she to tell you that her daughter is ready for a higher level?

Yes, this is a mess. But you have the control to change it by not dealing with it another day. Proudly let her know that you are the owner/director of your school, that you cannot give in to her demands, and that it’s time for her and her daughter to move on. All the best to you. —Rhee