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Should I ask an ex-employee’s fiance back?

Linda Kaplan Thaler, co-author of The Power of Nice, and CEO of The Kaplan Thaler Group has answered the letter below. Read the Office-Politics book review on The Power of Nice.

Dear Office-Politics,

I had an employee, Steven, that the previous manager, Bill, hired. After a short period, Bill hired Steven’s fiancé, Christina. After I took over as manager, I determined that Steven had trouble with my authority and felt that he was better suited for the job of manager than I. After a number of struggles, Steven left the company.

As a parting shot, Steven encouraged his fiancé to move to another part of the company, leaving me very short handed and removing two layers from my succession plan. I was very happy with Christina, and felt that she would be an excellent candidate for future managerial roles. She is still with the company in another position that, I feel, has less potential for her. Should I make an effort to get Christina back, or just cut bait?


linda kaplan thaler

Dear Manager,

My thoughts for you first would be that you should treat this man’s fiance, Christina, as a totally separate individual. Yes, of course you should try to get her to come back for the reasons you mentioned, mainly that she was perfect for the job, and that it’s a better opportunity for her. But you should be prepared for Christina to say “no” because it might upset her boyfriend, Steven. After all, he’s the one who made her leave in the first place.

You also should be prepared for Christina to be influenced by her boyfriend, and for there to perhaps be some pushback from her regarding taking orders, etc. But in this situation, as we always say, “assume goodwill” and ask her back. Chances are, if the boyfriend was having a problem taking direction from a female, he’s probably had the same issues with listening to his girlfriend. Clearly, he is so insecure that he feels if he can’t succeed in this department, then his girlfriend should not succeed either.

Christina may be, in fact, hoping that she is asked back, and on some level may want to confront her boyfriend, or even re-think their relationship.

Best of luck to you!

Linda Kaplan Thaler

Linda Kaplan Thaler is coauthor of the bestsellers, The Power of Nice (2006) and also BANG! Getting Your Message Heard in a Noisy World (2003). Linda is also Chief Executive Officer and Chief Creative Officer of The Kaplan Thaler Group, which she founded in 1997. KTG has been ranked by industry publications as the fastest-growing New York agency and touted for its breakthrough creative and immediate results. Linda Kaplan Thaler has been responsible for some of the most touching, relevant and famous commercials during her 25 years in the advertising and entertainment business. A native New Yorker, Linda was a Phi Beta Kappa and Magna cum Laude graduate of CCNY, with a BA in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Music.

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