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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Unhappy with New Owners

Dear Sue: When I first started working at this company over five years ago, I felt as though I had a dream job. I was able to work flexible hours and focus on sales, which is what I do best. Employees were respected, empowered to make decisions and encouraged to sell using their own personal style. Business was good, we were having fun and coming to work was most enjoyable.

That was then – today things are different. We have a new owner/manager who is changing the way things are done. Business has been good all along and continues to grow, but instead of allowing us to do what has worked to get us where we are, he has been changing the very things that helped us to grow to this level.

The biggest change is that instead of allowing us to focus on our sales, which we were hired to do; we are being asked to do lots of other things, including large amounts of paperwork. We are being asked to document and be accountable for every minute of our time. He has never asked for input from us and doesn’t seem to care about what we know or want. He has even commented on how ‘tight’ the employees seem to be and expressed concern that our friendship with each other could be interfering with our productivity.

Most of us are not happy with the changes, and some of us are downright miserable and considering leaving. The joy we once had for our jobs is slowly fading. Is there anything we can do?

– Unhappy

Sue Says: There are some things you can do, and others you may need to accept. I can understand how difficult it must be to see the enjoyable job you once had slowly slip away. While I don’t doubt that some of the changes may seem extreme, not all may be as unreasonable as you think. The rules may seem excessive compared to what you’ve had in the past, but may be closer to the norm than what you are accustomed to.

You are fortunate to have worked for over five years in such a positive, flexible environment. While it would be nice to keep things as they are, very few jobs remain the same, and change dramatically over the years. An unwillingness or failure to change often results in failure to keep a job.

Anytime a new owner or manager takes over, there will be change. People need and want to do it ‘their’ way and impact the business they are responsible for. I agree that it would be nice if you were asked your opinion, but obviously your new manager isn’t asking. You see the business one way, and he sees it another. Resisting him and his ideas will get you nowhere.

You asked if there was anything you could do, and the answer is yes. You can quit and leave; you can stay and feel miserable, you can accept the changes and adapt, or say something to your manager. If you decide to approach him, be careful not to pick apart everything he has done, and focus only on the issues you find most distressing. He may or may not be open to your feedback, and his reaction could depend on your approach and attitude, so be sure to approach him in a sincere manner with a desire to see things work out.

Although you feel as though everything is being taken away from you, no matter how many changes you face, you have the freedom to respond in the manner you want, and make choices about the action you take. At this point, no one is forcing you to leave or to stay; what you choose to do is up to you. Make the right decision for yourself, and then accept it and don’t look back; the past is behind you and your future is what you make it. Good luck.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

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