My staff answer back. Is this healthy or plain rude?

Dear Aunty B,

Help! I feel like I have no power. I recently had a run in with a staff member (Gen-Y) who was cheeky to me in front of the staff. I gave him a first warning. He looked at me with surprise and asked me if I wanted him to leave because he had other job offers that he was quite happy to pursue. I ended up apologising and backing down!

We have a good time at work and the Gen-Ys often go and have a drink after work together. But sometimes I feel they go over the line.

Now I am concerned the attitude will get worse.

Should I have told him to walk?


Bruce G,
North Melbourne



Hi Bruce,

Poor thing! We bosses dream of the day the pendulum will swing. A recent Roy Morgan poll pointed out that four out of five Australians who work full or part time say their job is safe. Most people (72% of workers) say they could find a new job quickly if unemployed. This gives them tremendous power. And most of them are also confident that unemployment will not rise in the next 12 months.


In fact the latest trend in recruitment is for people to post their resumes on job boards whether they want a job or not – just in case!


Many employers are watching nervously as the pendulum swings too far the other way towards the employee. But politics aside, and to more important things Bruce – your problem is a common one. If you run an authoritarian, hierarchical workplace, your Gen-Y staff will leave. That does not mean you don’t deserve respect.


Gen-Ys have been beamed down from another planet (that’s not all bad). They believe we are all equal. Next time one of them oversteps the line, just pull them aside and explain your feelings are hurt. (They all grew up in counseling.) This will quickly elicit an apology and will ensure it doesn’t happen next time.


Your culture sounds terrific, but in this case it does sound like you have hit a mosquito with a sledgehammer. It’s hard for an older generation to let go and allow the Gen-Ys to dictate culture. But the benefits are creativity, fast pace and fun… and staff retention.


Hope that helps,

Your Aunty B




Aunty B - Your problems answered by SmartCompany's business bitch
What are you waiting for? Email your questions, problems and issues to [email protected] right now!


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments