Up There! It’s Helicopter Mom!

Another update from the Jungle….

Winston is a new employee, and he’s got a big problem with his boss, Roger, but doesn’t realize it. Roger is sick of hearing from Winston’s mom.  Back in the day, Roger would have called Winston a “momma’s boy.” Now, Roger reflects bitterly, Winston’s just a typical millennial.

It all started when Roger called Winston to set up a job interview. First, Winston asked if he could call back after checking his calendar. A week later, Winston called Roger to set up the interview. Winston admitted he needed time to call his mom, and now he has a special request. Can he bring his mom along to the job interview?

Why, asks Roger, pardonably puzzled, she’s not applying for the job is she? No, replies Winston; she just wants to check out the company to make sure it’s the “right fit” for him. Roger is so stunned, he agrees. Besides, he wants to meet the woman who has convinced her college-educated, adult son that he needs her approval for a job.

It’s the strangest job interview Roger has ever conducted in his long managerial career. He asks Winston a question, and mom prompts Winston on his responses and invariably explains his answers to Roger. Winston seems happy to let his mom control the interview.

Roger decides to test the limits of the interviewing process. He poses increasingly bizarre hypothetical workplace scenarios, asks Winston how he would respond, and listens to mom’s explanations. Roger reflects privately that it’s a good thing the HR rep is home sick so that she can’t “coach” Roger later on how to conduct a proper interview.

In spite of mom, Roger sees something in Winston that encourages him to ask for a follow up interview without mom.  Based on the second interview, Roger hires Winston, a decision he regrets almost immediately. Mom calls every week to complain when she hears that Roger has criticized some aspect of Winston’s performance. Roger loses patience after a month of phone calls.

What are Roger’s options?

  1. He can refuse to ever again allow a parent to attend a job interview.
  2. He can fire Winston because he’s tired of dealing with Winston’s helicopter mom. After all, it’s an at-will employment state.
  3. He can heroically suppress the urge to call Winston a “momma’s boy” and hope Winston learns to stand on his own two feet.

If your company faces a helicopter parent, most experts suggest setting up a separate meeting with the parent.  At that meeting, the employer can set expectations and limits on the parent’s ability to intervene in the employment relationship.

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.

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