Dear J.T. & Dale: For seven years, my daughter has worked for a national retail company. At the time of her hiring, we made the employer aware that her comprehension skills put her at a lower IQ level. They still were able to find a position for her. She has worked hard and is liked by many.
However, in the past months they have been cutting her hours. She is unable to explain this. Because she has trouble understanding and is unsure of herself, I wonder if I could speak to the manager without jeopardizing her position. – Ingrid
J.T.: I normally wouldn’t encourage a parent to get involved, but there are exceptions to every rule, and, given their willingness to accommodate your daughter, this is one.
See if you can chat with the manager, saying something like: “My daughter loves her job very much. When I asked her why her hours were being cut, she wasn’t clear on it. Given her special needs, I wanted to make sure there isn’t anything from a performance standpoint that is affecting her hours.”
DALE: As you were saying that, I was struggling to find a way to agree. Corporate managers are trained not to discuss performance issues with an outsider, even a concerned parent. (And let’s face it – if your mother called your boss, you might be less than pleased.)
So, I think you have to angle your way into the conversation. Here’s an idea: What if you wrote a note to the boss, saying that you’ve coached your daughter on work issues and would like to help her improve her work performance to get her hours back up?
Ask your daughter to hand-deliver the note so there’s no behind-the-back. Invite the managers to have a brief conversation with you via phone or email, or, if not, to give your daughter a list of things to work on. That way, the reflexive “No way”doesn’t kick in, and the boss has all the options of how to communicate with you.
J.T.: I like it. The more options you give the manager, the more likely you are to get information that could help your daughter. Even if her reduced hours are about budgets and not about her, you still might put yourself in a position to coach your daughter to contribute even more to the team, and that can only help her career.
Feel free to send questions to J.T. and Dale via e-mail at [email protected] or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.
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