I am the nepotism hire who no one likes

A reader writes:

The company I work for divided into engineering/documentation and manufacturing/maintenance. The jargon on both sides is very dense–not just industry-specific but company-specific. My job is to write training courses about different departments and processes. It’s a good job, and I want to do well at it.

The CEO is something of a tyrant, narcissistic and very judgmental. He rewards successes, but god help you if you make a tiny mistake, or if you express an opinion that isn’t as conservative as he’d like. I have never, ever heard him admit he was wrong. Even his colleagues who like him admit he’s hard to work with.

He’s my dad. I am not technically qualified for this job. The only reason I’m here is because he hired me over at least two other, more experienced technical writers. And everyone knows it.

Nobody’s rude, but nobody’s talking to me, either. 

I email asking for internal resources and points of interest = receive curt reply with none of the promised follow-up.

Find them when they’re not busy and ask them for a good time to meet = hear “sometime next week,” which never happens.

Assemble outlines and write questions to help them come up with ideas = “thanks, I’ll get back to you!” and nothing else.

I’ve tried to educate myself about the industry and the processes. I read everything I can get my hands on and ask for clarification whenever I dare. On slow days, I put on protective gear and help out on the shop floor, asking questions in the hopes of improving my work. More cold shoulder.

I get it, I really do. CEO-Dad has the power to fire at will and they’re terrified I’ll say something that could land them in trouble. I am helpful and nonthreatening to a fault, I’ve made it clear as possible that I’m not him, but I’m still his kid, working a job I don’t deserve.

After an expensive car accident, I dropped out of university to work at high-stress minimum-wage disaster. It nearly killed me. I had to move in with my aunt for a year to pull myself together.

I want to be useful. I’m willing to work hard. And I need the money, the health insurance, and the resume experience. How do I prove my worth and write about tools and techniques no one will tell me about without being Jerk CEO’s Useless Daughter?

Signed, the nepotism hire nobody likes

Based on what you’ve described, you may not be able to succeed there. There’s just too strong a force working against you. It’s probably not just that you’re the CEO’s daughter; it sounds like it also may be that people are bitter that you got hired without being qualified, and they may have decided that they’re not going to play that game, to the extent they’re able to opt out.

It’s certainly possible that over time, you can get chill to thaw a little. But even if you do, I’m skeptical that this job is ever going to be good for your career. Even if people start talking to you and you’re able to do the work you were hired to do, you’re probably not going to build the sort of relationships and reputation that will help you in the future. Possibly the opposite, in fact.

So I think it’s in your best interest to get out of there as quickly as you can.

Until you can do that, though, all you can really do is to continue being warm and friendly and helpful, and keep trying to get your work done. You also might trying talking to your manager (assuming that’s not your dad) about what’s going on, and ask for advice on what you might be able to do differently. If you make it clear that you get why you’re being stonewalled, you might be able to disarm her a bit and get helpful advice, or assistance clearing the way with others.

And who knows — maybe when people see you being so diligent even in the face of repeated roadblocks, they’ll warm up to you and things will get better.

For now, though, I’d proceed on the assumption that they won’t, and make your bigger goal be to move somewhere else quickly.  I know that’s easier said than done. I just don’t think this job is the landing spot it might have looked like originally.

So: What would you do if your dad didn’t run this company, or if he wasn’t willing to hire a family member? Whatever that is, do that now — and accept that this job can probably only be a stop-gap while you’re working to make that happen.

(And I’m sorry — I’m sure that’s not what you were hoping for when you took this job.)

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 295 comments… read them below }

  1. Big10Professor*

    I think that the OP hits on a great point: not only are they bitter, but they are afraid that any interaction they have with her might be reported back to dad in a negative manner, so it’s safer to just not interact with her.

    AAM is totally right that this just isn’t a good long-term fit. At the same time, please do your damndest not to throw any of these people under the bus when you explain to your father why you are looking elsewhere.

    1. Roscoe*

      I don’t know, if they are actively making it harder for her to do her job, that is also something I think is ok for the boss to know. So yeah, I would go to daddy saying “no one will talk to me”, but I don’t think telling the CEO that Jeff in accounting won’t respond to my emails when I ask for help”

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        She could, but it’s not likely to endear her to the colleagues who will be spoken to about it — so the point remains that she needs to move on ASAP.

        1. fposte*

          It’s the loop that makes this so hard–she can’t bring in heavier weight without confirming their suspicions. And usually I’d suggest somebody focus on the most accessible employee and work from there, but there’s going to be serious group policing going on.

          1. Green*

            She’s in the loop either way, and I agree that she also needs to find something else. (The other loop is that she wasn’t competent for the job, then doesn’t do her job, thereby proving she wasn’t competent to do it.) But I’d still try to stay for a year to get her resume together, and in the meantime I’d need to worry about accomplishing my objectives, not whether they were going to like me.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              Well, just because she says she’s under qualified, doesn’t necessarily mean she’s incompetent.

        2. Roscoe*

          Yeah, I agree with that. But until she is in the position to move on, and she is being paid to do a job, then she at least deserves to not have people impede her work. Yes, it won’t endear her to anyone, but if people are already being jerks to her, why should she cover for them?

        3. Green*

          But in the interim, she’s still responsible for completing her tasks at work, and they’re accountable for supporting their colleagues. I’d be in favor of taking a tougher line with the business partners.

          “Jonah, We’ve exchanged several emails and we’d agreed that you would respond to me by [date that has passed.] I need to accomplish this task by X/X. Can we agree that you will provide this by X date?”

          Forward previous email. “Jonah, I am following up on my previous email. I have heard from you on this. Can you prioritize this task?”

          Forward chain to Jonah’s manager, asking for her assistance.

          I very rarely do this kind of thing in my job, but it almost sounds like OP is trying so hard to make up for the fact that she is the nepotism hire and getting people to like her that she’s not accomplishing the tasks assigned to her (reinforcing everyone’s view that she is unqualified).

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes, she can absolutely do that — and probably should, given it that it’s how she should handle it if this were happening in a normal context.

            But I also don’t want her to get sucked into thinking that could solve the bigger issues, because she still needs to get out of there, even if this gets people to be more responsive to her.

          2. Mike C.*

            Having worked for a boss like this, I’m willing to bet that they’re already getting screamed at for not having an already insane workload completed. If that’s the case, this isn’t going to help much.

            1. Green*

              It’s part of the normal escalation. You talk to the person and get firmer about deadlines, then you loop their manager in on it. At least if she eventually needs to go to her father about this, she can say that she’s tried other tactics first.

              Also, not sure why people would shut out the person they knew is the CEO’s daughter. If it’s not one of your priorities, you should communicate that to her with your manager’s back-up (that you have other tasks to accomplish and this is low down on the list), but basic self preservation suggests that you don’t want to ghost or fail to meet deadlines you’ve set for yourself with someone with a direct link to the CEO.

        4. Anonamoose*

          And can I just point out how Dad makes poor decisions?? The person in that role needs to naturally be assertive but also have emotional deposits with these folks so that she can seamlessly move around and find out how things work. The way these folks look at her (maybe rightly so, from an optics perspective) is likely akin to ‘CEO wants to write up processes to help him cut costs = us’, regardless if it’s called ‘training material’. The fact that the CEO wouldn’t even think of his relationship coming in the way of her (his?) efficacy is mind blowing.

          1. Anon For This One*

            I’ve worked at a major fortune 100 company where the CEO hired their kid. It was a bad idea and it ended badly. For he kid and it damaged the CEO’s reputation. But he did it because he cared for his kid. His kid was a train-wreck (not trying to imply that the OP is) and needed a real job and experience to parlay into a career.

            I’m guessing OP’s father is trying to be a good dad and help “fix” this problem for OP by giving the gift of experience/job. It is still a bad idea and the OP should look for a new position ASAP. You don’t want a job out of charity, and that is what you have. And your colleagues know that you don’t deserve this job and they resent you for it. This is a no win situation. I know you like the job and want to do well, but you will not be successful in this job because of the way you got it.

            1. Green*

              I agree with everything you said, but I’d still stay for a year. You’re in the job, may as well get the benefit of learning from the job and establishing some resume security.

      2. Boo*

        I think actually OP is in a unique position here in that when she does leave, she is able to give her dad some really valuable feedback on nepotism/perceptions/management style, and he might even listen.

        1. Observer*

          I’d say that it’s unlikely. Remember, she knows that he has never admitted that he is wrong. What makes you think he’s going to listen to her now? Quite the contrary – he’s probably going to be so angry at her that he’s not going to hear ANYTHING she says.

          1. Blurgle*

            Yep. Dad sounds like a nightmare boss and any feedback will be used to beat LW and/or everyone else over the head.

              1. Anonamoose*

                ding ding ding! Even if I was desperate I wouldn’t have worked with my dad if he was like this (and actually….he kinda is). *shudder*

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          Rule #1 for dealing with narcissists: never tell them anything that casts them in a less than favourable light.

          Unless you enjoy being on the receiving end of a whole lot of really unpleasant stuff. Easy to avoid if it’s your boss, impossible to avoid when your boss is also your dad. Because he will never, ever, ever in a million, billion years forget and it will be constantly dropped on OP’s head that after he was such a wonderful father to give her this job, she was so ungrateful as to tell him what he’s doing wrong at his own company when she least expects it and at family gatherings. I’m sure JerkCEO knows that everyone fears him, power is such a sweet, sweet thing.

          As for OP, that is a rock and hard place situation and unfortunately Alison is right, leaving would be your best option for so many different reasons.

          If you have a manager or someone you report to, I would suggest going to them. Not in a “Joe won’t return my messages” way but in a “here is what I have written for the Bananahammock operating manual. I am still waiting for feedback from Joe, Sally, Xavier and Ramon about whether or not these are the correct steps or if I’ve missed something important.” Next meeting with manager, mention that you’re still waiting for feedback if you are.

          Alternately, you could post your draft to a Google Doc and then invite the necessary people to edit it/comment on it, CC’ing the manager/team lead. Just be as thorough as you can be, that’s pretty much all anyone can ask of you until you understand things.

          Also, if you can pull it off, self deprecating humour can help you. They don’t know that your father was also a tyrant at home (I assume), so as bad as they’ve got it, they don’t know you’ve had it for longer than they have. They may get tied up in knots over a mistake in a report, but they can’t imagine what it must have been like to bring home a poor grade when you were 9 or whatever. I’m not saying air the dirty laundry but there must have been things that happened where your father blew up over the stupidest things, so you can relate (and empathise) with these coworkers. Maybe you make a point of always putting everyone’s dishes away in the kitchen because you know how he hates clutter or whatever and just mention it in passing. It will take a while and it’s a fine line to tread but eventually they may come to see that you’re not a spy who’s running to Daddy every chance you get to win brownie points.

          And really look for another job as soon as you can.

          1. INTP*

            They don’t know that your father was also a tyrant at home (I assume), so as bad as they’ve got it, they don’t know you’ve had it for longer than they have.

            This is a very good point. People tend to expect Tyrant CEO children to be coddled brats, not people who were raised under the same conditions in which they are now working. And it doesn’t help that narcissists often make high visibility Grand Gestures, and brag endlessly about everything they do for you, giving everyone the impression that you have been coddled and spoiled emotionally as well as materially when you were really being criticize or ignored whenever no one was watching.

            Agree that actively trying to be the opposite of a bratty child might help people warm up to OP more, though I wouldn’t mention anything about him or his personality except in a VERY vague way. It’s tempting to commiserate but sometimes it’s hard to dam it back up once you start and if word got back to Dad all hell would break loose. It still puts OP in a tough spot because she might not be able to get her job done without invoking higher ups, but might not earn the trust of her peers until she proves she’s not the type of person to invoke higher ups. (She could try to just involve her own supervisor, but if he’s like my narcissist-ish dad, if he gets wind of it, he will swoop in and take charge to show what a powerful dad he is.)

            1. Christopher Tracy*

              Agree that actively trying to be the opposite of a bratty child might help people warm up to OP more, though I wouldn’t mention anything about him or his personality except in a VERY vague way. It’s tempting to commiserate but sometimes it’s hard to dam it back up once you start and if word got back to Dad all hell would break loose.

              This. Badmouthing CEO dad to try and get in good with her peers is not a good idea from a personal or professional standpoint. Plus, who’s going to believe her? She could rant about her dad all day long, but these people have an irrational dislike for her already – they’ll just think she’s saying this stuff to suck up.

              1. Murphy*

                Or worse, that’s she’s a trap and is reporting back to daddy. Agree that she shouldn’t commiserate with the staff. It won’t end well.

              2. Dynamic Beige*

                I didn’t mean rant or whatever about Dad, gawd no. Don’t air the dirty laundry. But, from the sounds of it, OP is not being treated like a golden child by their father — no corner office, no long lunches, no huge salary for minimal effort. They were handed a job they didn’t really want and that’s about it and now they have to make the best of it. Making a comment about how you really don’t want to fail on the job because you have been on the receiving end of Dad’s temper (which everyone is already aware of) in the past is stating the truth. “I don’t mind putting away the dishes. I learned that it’s necessary in order to keep the peace.” Sort of sad half-smile and then leave. Or, “you should have seen me the day I brought home a report card with a C on it. That’s how I feel about this report I’m writing now, that it’s not going to measure up, and that’s why I’m asking for your help.” Hell, I’m old enough that if it were me, I would take someone aside and just tell them flat out “Look, I don’t like this situation any more than you do. Mr. X (don’t call him Dad) probably gave me this job more so he could keep an eye on/control over me than any other reason and I know it. You know it, everyone in the office knows it. Believe me when I say this, we are not close or he would have known better than to put me in this position. All I want is to do the best job I can. That’s it.”

                However, it is entirely possible that one day, Dear Old Dad is going to let loose on OP in front of everyone and then they will all see that she is not treated “better” than they are. It’s sad that it’s probably going to take a meltdown from Daddy Dearest for the rest of the office to see that she’s also been bullied her whole life.

                1. Christopher Tracy*

                  That’s still too much information to be sharing with coworkers, and it’s not going to endear her to these people. Again, they’ll think she’s making it up or trying to trap them into saying something negative about her dad.

            2. BronxRosie*

              One positive story for a similar situation. Sales team lead hired his daughter as a salesperson and of course, everyone was snarky and a bit stand-offish (though not to the extent of the OP’s situation). She told a very funny story of trying to play sports with her dad who did not let up just because she was not as experienced as he. We all laughed and realized he was tough on her and would expect her to produce (and she did). Like everyone else, she had to learn the ropes, but people eased up on her. I was impressed that she was able to convey the situation without trashing her dad and adding some humor into the situation. OP, I don’t know if you have anything like that in your hat of tricks, but if you do, it may help for the time you are there.

              1. Dynamic Beige*

                That is what I was getting at! Should have read this before I posted the above. Doh!

        3. Laura*

          Unfortunately, I don’t see this happening. The guy was stupid enough to hire his own daughter when she was the least qualified candidate, and she says he’s not one to take criticism. He’s a bad manager, and bad managers don’t get better unless they want to.

        4. Tinker*

          I don’t know about that. Having had some experience with the “child of overbearing person” situation, I think it can well be the case that the OP is in a uniquely discredited position with regards to their father.

          Even for relatively normal parents, it seems like most of the time the circumstances of child rearing lead to situations that teach the parent not to treat the child seriously — the flights of fancy of a young child, that stereotypical “I HATE YOU FOREVER” thing, et cetera. Getting through that while weighing every expressed opinion of the person as something to be considered is difficult, even discounting the social pressure against this. So the association that the parent can get with the child potentially gets to be something like “this creature makes noise, I do what I decided upon anyway, and if their objecting behavior becomes inconvenient to ignore then I punish them”. And once that pattern gets established, it doesn’t necessarily change once the passage of time causes it to be directed at another adult.

          Combine that with a person who apparently has a thing for hierarchical power games generally and — the OP is a junior employee, their child, and also someone whose life is going in a less than optimal way (for no fault of their own, but that does not necessarily make a difference). At least one way that adds up is as “the last person on the planet that the CEO is going to listen to”.

        5. INTP*

          As the child of one of these people, they don’t listen to their children any more than their subordinates. Literally every person on the planet could give them the same feedback and they would just think every other person on Earth was an overly sensitive special snowflake.

      3. AMG*

        Probably this, yes. But what about a demotion reporting to someone who is qualified? You can learn that way and make better inroads.

        1. Shannon*

          That’s a great idea, but, at this stage, I’m not sure how the OP can achieve that without telling her father that her coworkers are being unhelpful.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                It would come with the same issues — now a whole new role that they didn’t need is being created for the CEO’s daughter. It’s not a way to win respect.

      4. RJeeves*

        Might make sense to just acknowledge it. Pick a few key colleagues the OP needs to succeed and just talk about it. Face the elephant in the room.

        1. A Cita*

          I was thinking that. Sometimes there is value in naming what’s going on to open up conversation. I wonder if it would help OP to just be frank and acknowledge what she has in her letter (excluding the parts about her dad).

          I’m also wondering if some of the push back is tied to coworkers now having a heavier burden of support to the role because the person in it isn’t qualified.

    2. bridget*

      And, since CEO-Dad is so difficult to work with, even if OP doesn’t transmit information in a negative manner, the co-workers might be worried that _anything_ can come back to bite them. When I have to deal with people who can get upset over minor things, I limit the exposure. That exposure could, unfortunately, also come through the OP. :(

      1. INTP*

        Yep. OP might unknowingly convey that processes Dad wants followed are not being followed (for good reason), something like that. When you’re dealing with a control freak, people tend to do a lot behind the control freak’s back just to be able to get their work done, and OP might not even know what information could get someone in major trouble.

  2. Daisy Steiner*

    And even if you do well at this job, everyone thaws and you have a great experience – when it comes to finding your next job, you’re still going to be the CEO’s daughter. Fairly or not, that’s not going to be a positive when people are looking at your reference.

    1. Cam*

      To be fair, it is likely not obvious to outsiders that she is the CEO’s daughter. It wouldn’t be too difficult to keep that under wraps, especially if she’s applying for another job while still employed.

      1. Daisy Steiner*

        Fair enough. I guess I was thinking that if she’s “Jane Bananahammock” and her previous job experience is “Bananahammock Closets Ltd”, it might raise a few queries. But it might not be that obvious.

      2. Mike C.*

        It’s rather unethical to provide references which have serious conflicts of interest.

        1. Shannon*

          Yeah, there is no long term win for the OP here. Even if everyone thaws and she becomes a beloved coworker, any reference she gets from that company is going to look like the referrer was coerced into giving a good reference.

        2. Green*

          Presumably the reference would be her current manager (not CEO father), which is why she needs to meet her objectives.

          1. Jessen*

            Right, but there’s still the concern that her current manager would feel obligated to give her a good reference because otherwise he might be fired.

      3. fposte*

        Seconding Mike–it’s really dishonest to have a close relative as a reference without disclosing that relationship, and it would hurt or even disqualify your application.

        1. my two cents*

          I think maybe OP ‘ultimately’ reports to her dad-boss, but I’d imagine she has a direct manager who she could instead list as a reference. Dadboss may have gotten her in the door, but likely isn’t responsible for her day-to-day.

          She should stick it out for a year if she’s able, and use normal coworkers-aren’t-responding tactics in the meantime. Email initial request with deadline, follow-up a few days prior to deadline (either email if remote/outside the company or in person if in the same office), and one last emailed response the day prior. CC the requested coworker’s manager if OP still doesn’t get what she needs.

          1. fposte*

            You’re right–I misunderstood and thought somebody was suggesting using her dad as a direct reference.

        2. Roscoe*

          Well, it depends on if her direct supervisor is her dad or not. While yes, giving your dad as a reference without disclosing him as your dad is unethical, not disclosing the fact that her dad was CEO, but providing her manager as a reference isn’t, at least in my opinion.

    2. Letter Writer*

      I am very fortunate that we have a very common last name, AND the company name has nothing to do with my family. My direct superior knows I was acutely embarrassed to be stuck in this position and (probably) won’t hold it against me.

  3. Roscoe*

    OP, I’m sorry to hear this. It does sound like these people are being jerks. I’d bet if you weren’t the daughter, a lot of people would say this was bullying (I wouldn’t, because I think the word is thrown around too much). However, I think Alison is right. Your best bet is to get what you can out of this job, and move on. Learn the skills you need and do a good job. Hopefully you have a direct manage who could at least serve as a reference at your next job

    1. Mike C.*

      As someone who speaks up a good deal about workplace bullying, that’s a good bit of well poisoning there.

      The problem is that the CEO created this toxic environment, not that people won’t talk to the OP. They’re keeping their mouths shut out of a sense of self preservation, nothing more. Notice how it’s not just one or two people, but everyone? That’s when you should start looking for environmental factors, not personal factors.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, given the environment the OP describes, I highly doubt all her co-workers got together and said, “Let’s be a jerk to her. Yeah!” Even if some of them did, many others would opt out, and it would be hard to get a consensus. Them all treating her the same way means that’s what they’ve learned will “work” in their best interests.

      2. Tinker*

        Were I one of OP’s coworkers, I’d like to think that I wouldn’t be overtly unkind to them, but I also certainly wouldn’t trust them. Even while recognizing that the unfortunate nature of their position is not their fault, and being sympathetic that it’s difficult for them — I also don’t want to be the person ready to hand when throwing someone under the bus will get them out of a bad situation or will get praise and approval from their overbearing parent. And I say this because I have had similar like problems and a number of my friends from my early-to-mid 20s have a few tire marks on their back (though often in ways that they wouldn’t notice) from my own participation in that dynamic.

    2. So Very Anon For This*

      Along those lines, try to get sent to training conferences or networking events so that you gain experience (along with templates and examples of successful projects) and also get an idea of another place you’d like to work by talking to people in similar jobs.
      I’m happy to list a couple of better courses you could take if it’s OK (not affiliated with them at all).
      I’ve worked in technical writing and have found that subject matter experts often don’t want to get involved with the writers for various reasons, not just fear of retribution. They’re busy, they don’t actually know the subject material, they were voluntold to help out, they can’t organize their thoughts properly, having a writer around cuts into their goofing off at work, sometimes writers are crazy and difficult… you get the idea.
      Handing the expert a draft of content for them to review and edit may be better than asking for help building something from scratch.
      Good luck.
      The CEO’s Kid Is My Summer Student (Which May Out Me)

      1. Shannon*

        It sounds like the OP has gone the “here’s a draft, review it,” route and isn’t getting any feedback.

        1. my two cents*

          I used to edit/compile datasheets at OldJob, and when I first started it was BRUTAL trying to get the development engineers to review docs. In the interest of saving my sanity and others’ time, I started using stickynotes in PDF’s when I needed additional clarification or when something seemed incorrect, like a value being off by a magnitude is likely just a typo. The dev engineers didn’t have the mental bandwidth to edit what they already wrote, and the sticknotes also allows you to generate a paginated list of the corrections/comments. It seemed to help by providing a targeted list of things that needed their expert attention.

          1. the gold digger*

            I work with engineers and have discovered I cannot just send them a file for review and comment. I have to set a meeting and basically, review the file with them. They are so swamped that this is the only way to get their attention. It is inefficient but it is the only thing that works for me.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Gah! How awful. That would never work here. I have to send docs back and forth all the time. I have to wait for them to get back to me, because travel, etc. but if I had to call a meeting every time, they’d draw and quarter me.

              I pass the time when I am waiting for something by reading AAM. :)

              1. LQ*

                I think a lot of this is about work culture and it is important to get to know what your work culture is. Is it a place where a meeting is seen as “real work” and so you can actually spend an hour of time uninterrupted and only working on that one thing, but if you are at your desk you are constantly interrupted by a string of people? Do people respond really well to things that are sent and edit/respond/whatever and despise meetings? If someone stops by and asks me for a meeting I’ll tell them to put one on my calendar because it is up-to-date. But if you don’t know how to work the calendar you better be pretty high up the chain for me to not come to your office and tell you how happy I’d be to show you how, once. Then I just reject until you find a time I’m free. I think there are a lot of cultural things that play into stuff like this. Does doing this mean you have to meet your quota on the floor AND do this? That’s very different than speaking with the technical writer means you have a decreased quota.

      2. LQ*

        The SMEs don’t know the subject material brings up something else that happens around here which is the SMEs don’t know the material, the Person In the Know is brought in and he’s the person with the big hammer and will definitely think less of those people for not knowing. He’s not a screamer or a firer but you don’t want to be on his bad side and not knowing what you are doing will absolutely get you on his bad side. So there might be just an element of they don’t want word to get back to the CEO that they are doing things wrong or different or correct but not worded well and having you there makes it feel very likely to happen.

      3. Chinook*

        “I’ve worked in technical writing and have found that subject matter experts often don’t want to get involved with the writers for various reasons, not just fear of retribution. They’re busy, they don’t actually know the subject material, they were voluntold to help out, they can’t organize their thoughts properly, having a writer around cuts into their goofing off at work, sometimes writers are crazy and difficult… you get the idea.”

        I am another person working as a quasi technical writer while the company goes through a company (re)write of all standards and procedures (some of which have never been written down before) and I want to let the OP know that not all of the pushback is because of how she got the job. I work with people who presumably like me and trust my talents and I still find my emails pestering them for documentation being ignored to the point that one guy I see daily looks at me and says “still working on it” rather than “hi.” (that’s okay, I greet him with “you are going to make me nag you, aren’t you?”) Considering he is timely with everything else he does with me, I know it isn’t personal.

        I agree with So Very Anon For This that giving your Subject Matter Experts a document to edit can be much better than giving them a blank paper. Ditto for giving them negative timelines (ex: I will be posting this document as attached on Monday unless I hear from you and will accept your silence over the last two weeks as approval). While the latter seems a little strong, it was how I was finally able to get a template out of our head technical writer (something that no one else was able to pry out of him over the last year because “it still required work.”).

        You may also want to let them know that you are only worried about content and not formatting or grammar. I emphasize that my job is to make the document “look pretty” while theirs is to make it accurate. I have even given people printed copies to handwrite comments on and then transcribed those comments/changes into a new document for review. It is old school but it does work well for those who prefer to work with their hands instead of a keyboard.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          You may also want to let them know that you are only worried about content and not formatting or grammar. I emphasize that my job is to make the document “look pretty” while theirs is to make it accurate.

          OMG THIS. I couldn’t get one SME to look at anything until I told her this. And I’m trying to train her out of putting together a report that I can do for her–no, you don’t have to insert the report modules; I can do that. All I need is the list of which ones you want in there.

          Now we’re almost caught up on edits. Woo hoo!

          1. Chinook*

            “OMG THIS. I couldn’t get one SME to look at anything until I told her this. ”

            I am glad someone else thinks this is a good idea. I am lucky that I am also doing some training around creating/publishing these documents, so I am able to point out that learning how to do it properly would take atleast 2 more hours of training on Styles (which I am willing to do) . The phrase “meta data” seems to scare them straight and gives them permission to send me the documents to format them. I love it!

            1. Kera*

              I have to do this with scientists and engineers who are writing academic books! You don’t need to typeset it! That’s our job! Just send me the word/latex file and let me sort out the xml so that your book looks correct in every format we publish it in.

              And maybe respond to the query list and proofs. That’d be nice too.

            2. Kera*

              OP, since it seems you’re going to be stuck here for another 6-9 months, it sounds like you could use some tips and tricks for making the whole thing less grindingly awful as without some miracle (maybe your dad could be visited by the ghost of xmas future?), you know this isn’t a long-term option. I presume you’re already googling all the tech writer courses and forums google can provide, and in the meantime, it’s just a case of keeping your head down and your eyes open for escape routes.

              So though I’m not a technical writer, I work with writers of all stripes and one of the key lessons for me was that in order to get responses out of busy, unresponsive people – don’t overload them with options. It’s much easier for people to answer an a/b question (frequently with ‘c’), than offering everything from a-z in an effort to be nice and accommodating. It takes more executive function that they can’t spare you (and possibly resent being asked for) to go through all the options, think about which suits, what might clash, whether the guy next to them is annoying them by humming all the time, what’s for lunch….. and then your request is at the bottom of the pile and will stay there for 3+ months. Whereas “Hi Jameel, I need to check the teapot handle specification workflow with you – can you give me 10 minutes after tomorrow’s all hands meeting?” gets you a yes/no, a convenient location, a schedule and an agenda. Stick to all, and develop a reputation of being easy to work with.
              I also happily doorstop authors of mine who are being slow to respond “Stan! Good to see you – I was just talking to Andy about spout dynamics. You and I were going to catch up on the new anti-drip coatings this week – let’s grab a coffee and do it now”. It being harder to ignore your requests when you’re stood in front of them ready to go. It’s really dependent on dynamics, and I suspect a lot of tech writers would wince at it as a tactic , but when up against deadlines and walls, it works well enough.

              Good luck! You seem really self aware, resilient and a skilled writer. I hope you recover and get to keep going :D

      4. DPPB*

        I would be interested in that list! Or even just some good resources. Have done lots of grantwriting, content writing, other kinds of writing, but never cracked the technical writing market – yet. Advice/lists of good courses or resources would be much appreciated. :)

        1. So Very Anon*

          Look into Langevin courses, and look into Adobe Captivate training if you’re doing training manuals.

          1. Letter Writer*

            Oooh, much appreciated, definitely noting those down. There’s a lot of garbage out there about technical writing, and trying to sift it for gold without insider knowledge is tough. I’d like to do a job like this elsewhere, preferably FAR AWAY, with better understanding of what’s expected of me and what I need from others. (And no family members for MILES.)

            1. Reb*

              I’m a tech writer too.

              My advice is to focus on the basics. The most important thing is writing clearly and succinctly. Next most important is learning the stuff you’re writing about, especially in a place where you have to fight for info. The job’s a lot easier if you can test your instructions! I.e. start at the beginning of a procedure and work your way through it, doing exactly what you’ve written down. Ideally, someone else would do that, but if that’s not possible, doing it yourself is a lot better than not doing it.

              Also, a lot of commenters are talking about emailing requests for review. That can work, but the my most effective technique is to turn up at the reviewer’s desk with a printout, a list of questions and chocolate, and just stay there till they answer the questions. Out-stubborn them! And ask for reviews of short pieces of the doc at a time. People are much more likely to read 25*2 pages than 1*50, and they’re more likely to answer questions than review documents.

              Tom Johnson is an excellent source of info for both beginning and experienced tech writers: http://idratherbewriting.com/category-beginners/

              Good luck. As someone else said, you write well. You may find tech writing a perfect career in the long term.

  4. 42*

    >>CEO-Dad has the power to fire at will and they’re terrified I’ll say something that could land them in trouble.<<

    I think this is your most accurate bit of insight and awareness. Based on what you said everyone's perception of tyranny, and his level of narcissism, you seem to have a lot stacked against you. That's got to be a drain on you, and I don't see that level of antagonism being sustainable. I'm sorry this job isn't working out for you, and I second Alison's advice.

    1. AFT123*

      OP, 42 touches on a really good point – you mentioned that your last positioned was so hard on you that you physically became ill, and it really damaged your psyche for awhile. I don’t think this position is going to help in that regard. It sounds exhausting to be not only trying to do a good job and set yourself up for success all on your own, but to also be constantly dealing with the emotional havoc of your situation with your coworkers and people you’re relying on to be able to do your job, ON TOP of dealing with your tyrant dad’s expectations, which I assume also weigh heavily on you, and you’re also likely trying to gloss over or cover things up when he asks you how you’re doing in the role. Seriously, this sounds EXHAUSTING. You deserve better. Take care of yourself, put yourself first right now, and try to find something else out there. I’m not sure how long you’ve been there but hey, it’s not wasted time, I’m sure you’ve gained some valuable experience and skills while you’ve been there that you can highlight in looking for something new.

      Post here on the open threads on Fridays and Sundays if you need some people to talk to – the community here is very insightful and supportive.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        I second this.

        Once, a long, long time ago, I was a nepotism hire for a summer job during high school. Mind you, my father also told me that anything I did would reflect on him and I better work harder than anyone else. I also was put into work where I didn’t report to him, nor did the people I was working under. In addition, my father was respected and even (as I discovered in all the letters I received at his workplace memorial service after his death) loved. People there were willing to cut me a lot of slack and answered a lot of questions, were happy I was working hard and learning about the job, and, I think, they did a lot of that out of a sense of (as much as this is possible in a work environment) ‘neighborliness’ with a man who was a decent human being. I learned a lot and I felt like I earned my wages. I still am proud of that work, as long ago and as different from my current work as it was.

        That was, I suspect, the very best possible outcome of a nepotistic situation. You do not have that and what you are describing reads so very, very hard to deal with.

      2. Letter Writer*

        Part of the reason I’ve been trying to stick out it at the current job is because the minimum wage job was orders of magnitude harder than anything I’ve ever done. Desperately understaffed, no training, and no such thing as ‘standard procedure’–every deadline was dependent on the whim of the customer, the manager, and the finicky equipment no one could fix, plus exciting quicktime events like 2/3 of the sister store quitting in one week (if that seems like a big red flag, good eye, it totally is).

        I wore out two pairs of shoes in eight months running back and forth across the tiny store trying to do the work of three people. It was physically and emotionally exhausting. In comparison, this job is a breeze.

        The manager still said I was his best employee and did his level best to convince me to stay. A pretty stellar experience as far as first real jobs go.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          That seems like you can count on that former manager to be a reference. Be sure and keep in touch enough to have his current/updated contact information as you go through any job searching.

  5. AF*

    OP, I just wanted to support you as you navigate this situation. I’m also sorry that you’ve had difficult working experiences in the past. It sounds a bit like you’re beating yourself up about them, but I hope you’ve become stronger and more confident through the process. The fact that you’re really self-aware and trying to learn and grow as much as possible in a bad situation is a huge plus for you. Good luck and please keep us updated!

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      She’s very self-aware – probably more so than any other letter writer we have seen here. I empathize with her too because she came into an impossible situation and is being treated like shit through no fault of her own. It sucks, but Alison’s right – the tide most likely won’t change as long as she’s there.

      OP, keep your head up, and please try not to take this treatment to heart. The sins of the father are not yours to carry, and your coworkers should not be treating you as if they are. (Though I can kind of understand where they’re coming from too if your father really is as awful as you say.)

  6. Macedon*

    Not much to add – afraid Alison’s set a good forecast. Try to get out of there as soon as strategically possible, do what you can to maintain a good reputation.

    Sorry you’re dealing with this, OP. You sound, at the very least, earnest, self-aware and well-meaning. Best of luck with finding something else fast.

  7. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

    What a lousy situation. The level of unresponsiveness sets my conspiracy theory nerve endings a buzz. Could Dad/CEO have put you in this situation knowing you’d fail as some sort of misguided attempt at a life lesson?

    I know, conspiracy theories are not helpful. The only other thing I can offer is sympathy.

    1. Observer*

      Do you really think that Dad is self aware enough to pull something like that? Does he realize that they hate and dear him so much that they will actively stonewall her to cover themselves? That would surprise me.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think it really matters whether it’s a misguided “life lesson” or not. That conspiracy being true doesn’t really change the OP’s dilemma.

    3. Shannon*

      It sounds like CEO Dad isn’t self aware enough for that. He probably thinks that working at his company is the best thing ever and that his daughter would be an idiot for not taking the awesome opportunity he’s given her.

      1. insert witty name here*

        Agreed. Or maybe he’s even thinking he’ll hand over the company to her at some point.

      2. Letter Writer*

        Got it in one. CEO-Dad lives in a pleasant snowglobe universe where no one ever secretly resents his absurd demands. He’s been trying to get me to work for him since I was a teenager, *in the same capacity*. Holy god that would have been a nightmare.

  8. Amelia*

    Wow, this was a great letter to remind people of the importance of empathy and treating people kindly (even if you don’t like them or want to work with them). I feel for OP. She knows that she’s not qualified, but she was in a tough spot and took a job that would help her get out of that tough spot. Keep working hard OP. That work ethic will help you at your future jobs. Good luck to you!

  9. Caledonia*

    Oh OP. You’ve had quite a bad time of it, haven’t you?

    I don’t think your dad has helped you much here unfortunately. Was technical writer the only position he had open? Something more in the background and suited to the skills you DO have probably would have gone down better with your co-workers.

    It sounds as if you dropped out of uni to pay off the car accident? Is it possible to go back part time if you still want to continue with your studies. You don’t say how far into your course you were in the letter.

    I would start looking for another job – it sounds as if the first one was a nightmare but that won’t be the same for all other jobs. You must be pretty miserable at this one too :-( and that won’t be good for you in the long term either.

    Sorry OP. I hope your luck changes for the better.

  10. Naomi*

    I agree that this job isn’t going to be great for OP in the long term and she should look elsewhere. But in the short term, Alison, do you have any scripts to suggest she use with her coworkers? Because they’re being really unprofessional by snubbing her this way, and it’s reasonable for OP to ask that she be treated like any other colleague.

      1. Chinook*

        I don’t see Gracioa’s comments, but I do think that the OP could try some way to show she is on the side of the employees and not the boss (though it could be hard because you don’t want it to look like sucking up either). Depending on the situation, maybe a joke about how the boss is just like this at home too? Or stating that her dad holds her to higher standards? Also, where is she spending her lunch break? Is she able to sit at a lunch table and chat (or be ignored)?

        Lastly, has she tried talking to the SMEs in person rather than just via email? I find that it is harder for someone to ignore my requests if I show up at their desks (though it isn’t always possible). Or maybe have them walk her through their work under the guise of writing up the procedures/training for them. Sure, it would take longer but at least it is getting done and she may be able to win over some people one by one.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Whoops, Green’s! Graciosa is a different commenter who’s also a lawyer and I have apparently swapped the two of them in my head. Sorry, both of you!

  11. fposte*

    Another thing playing in here, OP, is that compliance with the kinds of requests you’re making tends to be low for everybody. Our unit has to collect some of that, and it’s understandably not something people want to prioritize. Throw an additional roadblock onto that and it’s hard to get past.

    1. Big10Professor*

      GREAT point. What is important to you is probably not that important to your coworkers.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, I would agree 100% with this. Especially if OP’s position has been empty for a while, I’m willing to bet meeting with OP is lowest on everyone’s priority list (other that OP, of course).

        Rather than ask “when are you free?” could you instead look at their Outlook calendars (assuming you can see free/busy information) and propose a couple of times to meet with them. Alternately, could you ask if they will specifically assign one of their team members for you to shadow?

        Are you revising out-of-date documentation, or are you starting from scratch? If possible, start with some of the current documentation and see if you can determine if it is being followed or needs revision.

        However, I think everyone else is right that OP needs an exit strategy. OP, can you keep gritting your teeth and trying to make progress during the day and take a class or two at a time from university at night, until you can get out?

    2. The IT Manager*

      Great point. That was my first thought too. The LW may be right, but responding to the trainer creates additional work on possibly very busy people. I drowning in work and not really keeping my head above water. This kind of request would be near the bottom of my priority list even without the additional baggage. So it may not be all about the tyrant father – but I trust the LW that it’s at least a good bit about the tyrant father.

    3. Stephanie*

      Yeah, good point. I’m overseeing a QA metric that the floor guys at my job couldn’t give a rat’s a** about (that is, until it became a big focus at the corporate level and they had managers upon managers yelling at them about meeting these numbers). It definitely can be a bit disheartening to feel like your projects are being ignored a bit.

    4. Sparrow*

      I definitely agree with this. The easier you make things, the more likely it is that a busy person will help out (I work with university faculty, so this is pretty much my office’s motto). I’m seconding Meg Murray’s suggestion that you start with extant documentation, if there is any. It requires far less effort to respond to “Can you confirm this information is correct?” than”Can you give me all this information?” When you do have to schedule (brief!) meetings, it sounds like you’re leaving it on them to offer possible times. If you can suggest a couple of specific windows (ideally after consulting their calendar, if you have access), I think you’ll have better results. Good luck, OP – this kind of thing can be frustrating in the best of circumstances.

    5. Letter Writer*

      Individual parts and certain meetings have a loose schedule. People, however, have no calendar. If you need to talk to someone, you get up and find them, and if they’re not at their post, you either wait for them to return or plan on checking again later, because you could wander the cavernous facilities for forty-five minutes and never find them.

      If you’re buddies, you can call or text them, but that would be *hugely* presumptuous of me. My best bet, either via email or in person, would be offering arbitrary meeting dates and times, and letting them know any given session maxes out at about 15 minutes, often less.

  12. Lauren Hopkins*

    I was in a similar situation in my previous job – while I was not related to the president in any way (though many family members did work within the company), but I was his admin and people rarely spoke to me. Eventually I came to understand that they just couldn’t risk anything getting back to my psycho boss (not that anything would – I spoke to him as little as possible too!). It wasn’t until after I left there that colleagues emailed (from personal accounts) to tell me how happy they were for me. They also let me know each time in the next 6 months he lost another assistant (3 times! In 6 months! YIKES).

  13. Yep, me again*

    I’m going through a situation now that’s nothing like this but makes me remember that OP has a backstory and it should make me more appreciative and should be more understanding of situations like this.

    OP didn’t know she was signing on for this when she took the job. She could have just been a spoiled brat but she’s working through it even if it’s not the best of circumstances.

    Thanks for writing in OP. If I could take you out for lunch or coffee I would.

  14. Government Worker*

    Would it make sense to try to move to a different job within the company for which you are actually qualified? Something like an entry-level admin or customer service role, where hard work might be enough to succeed? It’s not clear from the OP’s letter that she has the background to do her current job well even with cooperative coworkers, and in her coworkers’ position I wouldn’t be motivated to help someone unqualified since I would assume the end product wouldn’t actually be all that useful.

    But that would be a short-term fix. In the long run OP clearly needs to move on.

    1. Letter Writer*

      The company is just too small for elaborate hierarchy interaction or lateral moves–think custom racecars. Lots of hands-on manufacturing, virtually no salesmanship outside of specialized magazines and weekend industry shows. All but two departments max out at four people, counting the manager.

      1. Argh!*

        As long as you have a real job and something important to do and enough of it to stay busy, just keep building your resume. If it makes you feel better, keep a notebook or log of each accomplishment: learned teapot cost-estimating today; updated spreadsheet formula today; learned how to make stapled brochures today.

        When you do decide to move on, you’ll have that list of accomplishments to help you write your resume and prove to potential employers that you were a legit employee.

        1. TootsNYC*

          the problem is, if I understand it correctly, that our Letter Writer has one job, and she/he CAN’T do it. So…

          I do like the idea of going quietly, one-on-one to the people you need to give you info and saying, “Look, I know how this looks. And I can understand if people resent me. But I need this job, and I’d like to do the best at it that I can. I need your help. I also don’t want either of us to be having to answer any questions about why this manual isn’t written. So providing me with information is going to benefit both of us.”

          And also, just go hang out with them, and read them your preliminary notes–in small chunks–while they’re doing stuff with their hands and eyes. If you’re standing there (in safety gear) w/ your clipboard and saying, “OK, so, when you change the oil on the custom race car, do you lift it up and to the left?” Then you take that small chunk back, and you plug in the changes, then work on the next one.

          Go BE with them while they’re doing other work, if that’s at all feasible. Or, get there early, ambush them when they get in (bring them a cup of office coffee), and ask them your specific questions, or read the your specific section.

          Then see if this sort of steady drip, drip can win a war of attrition.

          Oh, and yes, keep looking for a new job.

  15. bopper*

    Perhaps you can ask your direct supervisor for advice on how to get info needed for the document.
    What you have tried so far is:
    -Email asking for internal resources and points of interest = receive curt reply with none of the promised follow-up.
    -Find them when they’re not busy and ask them for a good time to meet = hear “sometime next week,” which never happens.
    -Assemble outlines and write questions to help them come up with ideas = “thanks, I’ll get back to you!” and nothing else.
    What other actions would they suggest? Can boss let them know that this needs to have a little priority?
    I wouldn’t say anythign about your father being a reason or nepotism.

  16. addlady*

    I’m sorry. I hope leaving doesn’t jeopardize your relationship with your dad, should you choose to do so.

  17. TCO*

    OP, I don’t know your industry or your company–but is it possible that people are just really busy? It sounds like you’re asking them to take a really active role in your documentation projects. Are you asking for time or expertise they don’t actually have? Is there a way to shift some of that burden off of them and ask them for less? Are you actually “helping” when you’re out on the shop floor, or are you just getting in the way of people with a precise and fast-paced job to do?

    Even if there is resentment towards you, and I believe you that there is, relying less on your coworkers’ help will make it easier to get your job done. You might even be able to win some people over by making their jobs as easy as possible. I’d take a good look at your processes, especially since you say you’re not very experienced, and see how they can be improved to shift more responsibility onto yourself so that you don’t need to spend so much time and emotional energy trying to get other people to help you.

  18. GreenTeaPot*

    OP, thank you for writing. We rarely hear from someone with your perspective in forums like this; at least, in my experience.

    I tend to agree with Alison here. Getting out is your best choice. Meanwhile, as BST you can, sit back and watch the dynamics of communication in your company. There may be a communication opening somewhere with some brave and sympathetic coworker.

    Courage! You are going to need to put on a positive, brave and determined face for a while.

    Please write back and let us know how you resolved this.

  19. 2 Cents*

    OP, I give you a lot of credit for realizing the (many) reasons why your dad may not be the friendliest CEO on the block. That takes real insight and ability to look at situations past family relationships and your personal feelings. I hope you can get back on your feet and find a job at a place that will be supportive of you.

  20. BananaPants*

    Find a new job, OP.

    Around 10 years ago we had an awful manager. His nephew – who had a different last name and never let on that he was Bob’s nephew – was hired into a different group. The nephew, Wakeen, turned out to be very competent at his job but had a hard time making friends/socializing at work because most of the younger engineers were in my group and had his uncle as the boss from hell. We were polite but distant. Even though Wakeen seemed like a nice guy and was super-capable at work, no one trusted him personally. It didn’t affect the willingness of people to work with him but it got mighty quiet when he showed up. He was even living with Bob’s family for his first year or two here, which made it worse – we had no way of knowing if Wakeen was relaying everything we said to Bob over the dinner table!

    OP, your coworkers dislike your father the tyrannical CEO, and they believe you were an unqualified nepotism hire. Best case scenario they warm up enough for you to do a competent job, but no one is likely to “trust” you, if that makes sense. Your best bet is to move on to a firm where you’re not related to anyone in charge.

  21. Jen RO*

    While your situation is sucky to the extreme, I have two points:
    * No one wants to talk to the technical writers. When I find someone willing to help me (or the rare ones who offer a demo without being asked!) I start hearing a choir of angels. And it absolutely makes sense – I’m in a software company, so of course the developers’ priority is writing the code and the QAs’ priority is testing the software… but on the bad days I feel like I could fall off the face of the Earth and no one would notice. I love the job, but it gets very tiring sometimes.

    * If you do decide to make this into a career, you will be well-equipped to handle even the grumpiest employees in other companies! I moved from one product to another (in the same company) and, even though NewProduct doesn’t exactly have documentation at the top of their priority list, there is a noticeable difference which still gives me the warm fuzzies, even a few years later.

    1. Kyrielle*

      …this is so strange to me. At $OldJob where I was an expert, questions from our technical writers were pretty high up my priority list. (Critical bugs from clients were definitely ahead of them, though.)

      I mean, these are the people who can make the documentation accurate and useful, thus reducing the number of completely unnecessary “bug reports” that come in due to bad documentation (due to guessing, but misunderstanding, on the part of the technical writers). Software engineers and QA had as part of their tasks to review documentation changes and provide feedback during a release cycle.

      Or they can, with just a little support, write lovely, clear documentation that is accurate and also readable to our clients. Thus preventing both client frustration and the waste of customer support time that’s involved in not having explained things properly in the first place….

    2. hodie-hi*

      Seconded. It is not unusual for technical writers to struggle with getting cooperation and support. You could have a similar working experience even without the nepotism factor. But with it, I think you’re in a no-win scenario. Alison’s advice is good.

    3. Chriama*

      I agree! I think that OP’s in the kind of job that often gets the runaround. And the fact that she doesn’t know much yet means her projects might be less useful than usual, plus she doesn’t know how to format her requests in the most painless way for people to respond. I would recommend OP focus more on observing and learning than doing for now, until she learns what’s most important and how to get that info from people.

  22. Dennis*

    Focus on one individual at a time. Talk to them on why they are being so passive aggressive with you. Don’t let them blend into the crowd. Call them out on their behavior.

    1. Mike C.*

      Have you ever worked in a toxic, family business environment before? Don’t you see that without any sort of standing this sort of action carries a rather nasty implicit threat?

      The OP needs to be building trust, not continuing the tyrannical behavior of her father.

      1. Chriama*

        I think calling out can work in certain circumstances. If someone is actively preventing her from getting work, she can speak to them and tell them what she needs. I wouldn’t get into motivations or behaviours, but sometimes just saying “I’ve asked you for the sales statistics 3 times and you haven’t given them to me. I need them for the annual report. What do you need from me to get the numbers?” When you’re a real person and not just someone to hate and you make it clear that you’re not making things personal, you might disarm some of their more actively hostile behaviour.

        1. Mike C.*

          Her job isn’t at risk, everyone else’s is. This isn’t a normal workplace and again, that sort of approach has the implicit threat of “do what I say or you’re going to be subject to more abuse from my father”.

          I’ve lived this shit personally, most likely people aren’t being cold because it’s fun, they’re cold because they have more numerous and pressing matters to deal with at the direct threat of abuse and their jobs. Making things “personal” is going to ensure that her coworkers hate her even more.

          1. Chriama*

            Maybe making things ‘personal’ is the wrong way to phrase it. The wording I mentioned above – do you find that too aggressive? What would you recommend instead?

    2. Mustache Cat*

      OP…don’t do that. It would be different if you weren’t the CEO’s daughter, but you are. Keep your head up and do your best to be kind and trustworthy.

      1. I'm Not Phyllis*

        I disagree. I’m not saying she needs to be bullying or confrontational, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with holding others in the company accountable.

        1. Mike C.*

          Accountable to what? She’s not a manager. She doesn’t determine the priorities of the other employees. And when she tries, she does so with the implicit threat of suffering abuse or worse from her father.

          Would you seriously do this if you were her?

  23. CoffeeLover*

    I never really understood why people choose to work at a company where a relative held a position of high authority. Even if your coworkers cooperate with you professionally, you will still never crawl away from that shadow. You will always be that person’s kid no matter how good of a job you do or how qualified you are. If you get a promotion or accolade people will wonder if it’s justified or if it’s because daddy dearest said so. I get why they would think that way too because this kind of nepotism happens all the time and it’s frustrating (at least in my old industry… and come lay-off time you knew who would get a safe pass). Of course this issue is made 100x worse if you’re not qualified for the position to begin with.

    Anyway OP, I’m sure people think you’re nice enough, but they can’t get past their own semi-justified prejudices. I hope you can find a position elsewhere where you can start with a clean slate.

    1. Mike C.*

      It pays the bills. It’s something rather than nothing. They could have been brow-beaten into it. Promises could have been made about “continuing the family legacy” or “inheriting the family business”.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        It pays the bills. It’s something rather than nothing.

        Yup. And OP already said she was in a bad situation prior to taking this job, so it sounds like she really didn’t have much of a choice.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            So she should have made the choice to be broke and insurance-less (which she needs after her accident)? Sorry, but that’s not really much of a choice for most people if there’s an alternative.

            1. Student*

              Most of us don’t have a relative who can just hand us a job when things get tough.

              Most of us don’t die starving in the streets because of it.

              Yes, she had other choices, meaningful choices. She took the easy way out, the way with the least short-term pain but the most long-term loss to herself. She gets the paycheck she wants right now, but loses out on the life experience she needs when her father isn’t there to provide for her in the future.

              1. fposte*

                She’s not spending her life there. She took a short-term job. It’s not going to have any long-term loss other than time wasted if it doesn’t contribute to her overall goal, and many of us have jobs in our history that don’t contribute to our long-term goal.

                As noted here pretty frequently, jobs are not just out there for the asking; I don’t think it’s fair to insist that for this OP they would have been and she was obliged to suffer rather than accept parental support for a short time.

                1. CoffeeLover*

                  I agree with fposte. My comment wasn’t really directed at OP, but more towards people who don’t seem to have the level of self-awareness she does. I knew people that lived under their father’s shadow for decades. A short-term gig under a relative makes sense sometimes, especially when it’s financially necessary or can give you some essential experience you couldn’t get otherwise.

                2. Christopher Tracy*

                  Thank you, fposte. I hate nepotism as much as the next, but people act like she did some terrible thing because she accepted a job from her dad when she was down and out. If my mom had been CEO of a company after I graduated from college with no prospects, no money, and student loans coming through, you’re damn right I would have taken a job at her company until I could find something better suited to my skill set.

              2. Letter Writer*

                I was job searching in my aunt’s town when my uncle picked a nasty fight and gave me 48 hours to pack up and leave. He took my phone, I don’t have a car, I was about to age out of health insurance, and all my college friends evaporated when I left school. My resources were $200 and a bicycle, in hill country that got snow in early May.

                A few days after my dad took me in, he told me to be ready to go to work with him tomorrow. I had been hiking to town and jotting down “help wanted” ads, trying to find the best shots I could reach on my bike.

                I’m not saying I had *zero* other options, but I didn’t really have time to look for them.

                1. Always Anon*

                  The situation sucks.

                  However, now things are a little more stable, I think it’s critical you either find another job and/or go back to school.

                  Unfortunately, you’ve been thrust into a role (from the sounds of it anyway) that you are wildly unqualified to perform. It isn’t your fault, it’s your dad’s, but at the same time, you probably are not going to be able to function at even an average capacity in the next few years. If he had found an entry level position for you, then I think you could probably have ridden out the situation by keeping your nose down. But, your dad put you into a role that really requires a significant amount of experience. Experience you don’t have.

                  Going back to school, as others have mentioned, might give you an easy out with your dad. And at least finding another job would allow you to discover what you want to do, and to hone the skills you are good at, so that you can be successful. Right now you’ve been set-up to fail.

                2. Aurion*

                  Ouch. I feel for you, OP. (Why did your uncle take your phone?!)

                  I think long-term, you may not be able to succeed at your workplace due to all the factors you and Alison have pointed out. But short-term, keep having the good attitude you already have, and modify your approach based on the comments here (especially the tech writers). You may not ever get past politely cool with your coworkers, but hopefully you can keep your head above water long enough to find a better alternative.

                  I think your dad was trying to help. Whether his approach will help in the long run is arguable, but at least right now you have somewhere to live and a paycheque.

                  Best of luck.

              3. I'm a Little Teapot*

                Wow, you really don’t have any compassion, do you? Did you read the part where she mentioned the car accident and the high-stress minimum wage job that almost killed her?

          2. Laurel Gray*

            True. Just like the OP made the choice to live with an aunt vs tyrant/narcissistic/very judgmental dad while getting her life together one can make the argument that there was other employment out there that would have paid the bills and not had this nepotism dynamic at play.

            Either way, I am rooting for the OP to get out of here and into a place where she can excel in her job and have friendly colleagues.

    2. F.*

      “I never really understood why people choose to work at a company where a relative held a position of high authority. ”
      This. When I graduated from college with my Math degree, I could have easily gone to work at the large aircraft manufacturer where my father was a well-respected engineer. Although he was not in management, I’m sure just the name recognition alone would have been enough to get me a good job. I chose to pass up the money and get a job on my own. I did not want my every move scrutinized as being his daughter. I have never regretted that.

      1. Mike C.*

        I’m glad you’re happy but as someone working at a large aircraft manufacturer, it’s likely you would have never run into your father unless you met for lunch and he likely could have had nothing what so ever to do with the the job application/interview process. Large companies have a ton of different gates to prevent that sort of thing, even if it’s something accidentally like having a large bureaucracy. My brother works next door and I almost never see him, and my cousin works in the same area and I’ve never seen him.

        Sure, nepotism is useful in helping someone to understand what the application process is like, but that’s something you’d easily get from an informational interview or HR directly. It just doesn’t work all that well at a large firm the same way it works at a small firm. Trust me, I’ve been in both.

        1. Stephanie*

          Counterpoint: My dad worked at a large aircraft manufacturer (maybe the same company) and while there was an official policy to dissuade nepotism and checks and balances around it, there were entire families working at his site (apparently his site was particularly about that).

          I work for a very large company now and we do have policies to prevent nepotism, but there are people who squeeze through the cracks (and everyone knows who those people are).

          1. Chinook*

            “while there was an official policy to dissuade nepotism and checks and balances around it, there were entire families working at his site (apparently his site was particularly about that). ”

            That happens here too. Partially that is because we work in some remote areas so the labour pool is limited and the kids of employees a)know we are a good employer and b)only have real experience with companies like ours (downside of a rural upbringing). I joke about how I thought engineers were the guys that drove trains (and even thought Scotty on Star Trek was the engineer because he ran the engine room) until I went to university because I grew up in a town where maybe 5 (real) engineers lived. But I knew all about electricians and working the mill.

            In such places with limited good employers (meaning stable and decent paying), you take any job you can there, even if happens to be where your parents work. And, sometimes, that family connection is what will get you the job interview when there are hundreds applying. If the choice is that company or working in fast food, you take what will give you a liveable wage and try hard to make your own way. The only other alternative is to move away from family and friends to any place where there is a job that hires you (which is what most of my classmates growing up ended up doing), but it comes with its own struggles.

          2. Mike C.*

            Just because you have families working together doesn’t mean it’s nepotism. Industries like aerospace have unique skill sets and it’s easy to gather the skills and education you need if you grew up in a household where you already have members who know what’s going on.

            So long as they were spread around different departments and you didn’t have management oversight of each other, it doesn’t really seem to be a problem. I’d say given the nature of the industry, having that sort of tribal knowledge is a good thing provided it doesn’t stop new talent from having a chance to come in.

        2. F.*

          Mike, my maiden name is very distinctive, and my father was well-known as an engineer where he worked. His brother was an instructor in the Engineering department at the local university (as was my father for a time). Everywhere I went, I was asked if I was related to one or the other of them. I specifically did not apply to Boeing because I wanted to know that I obtained my job and achieved any success based on my own merits and not his reputation.

          1. Chinook*

            F, if you are able to distance yourself from your family connections and still get the job you are looking for, then you are also lucky. I tried that once and it turns out that the province of Alberta is a very small place. Was offered two jobs – one in the field where my mother was known (literacy) and one in a museum in the middle of nowhere. Took the museum job only to learn that my grandfather had gone out of his way to return artifacts to that location a few years before. The curator even offered condolences on his recent death.

            I then went to university – the first of my immediate family to do so. Should be safe, right? Nope. My mom knew someone who worked at the Catholic college and he recommended that I pop by lunch. Turned out he was the college president. I eventually went to that college and, by the time I was graduating, a distant cousin was offered a teaching position there.

            I ran screaming from family connections to Japan. Should be safe, right? Nope. A week after I arrive I get a local phone call from another Canadian the next town over telling me that my dad had called her dad to call me to tell me to call home. Turns out a girl I went to grade 1 with in a small Northern town was also working there. She was later replaced by someone whose uncle used to be my boss. I also had a 65+ year old Japanese student walk in to his first class with me wearing a car dealership jacket from my home town.

            My point is that sometimes you can’t hide from your family connections and you have to embrace them. I fought tooth and nail against being judged by my family or where I am from and failed miserably. Once I learned to accept that these connection may open a door (but do not give me the right to enter), life became a lot easier.

            And you never know when those connections may appear. DH is from the Toronto area and has a mother from Newfoundland. Turns out his Newfie aunt was the secretary at one of the school’s I taught at in Alberta, new my mother as her boss at the school board and is friends with some of my (Irish born) dad’s cousins. I swear that I am no longer surprised by any connections anyone can make in life.

            1. CoffeeLover*

              I’m not against using your connections (whether they be family or otherwise) to land a job. I think there’s a big difference in what you described vs. OP or F’s situations. That difference is how the people you work with will perceive you. No one would bat an eyelash at your distant cousin teaching at the college where study, but people care when they have to manage their bosses kid or when the well-known employee’s kid gets the job over the 100 other qualified candidates.

            2. no gifts*

              Please, please don’t say “Newfie,” many Newfoundlanders consider it to be a slur.

              1. Chinook*

                And some, like my mother-in-law an her family, don’t. That is what she calls herself (but maybe that comes from being from around the bay and not from the city?)

        3. periwinkle*

          So how many of us work for this same large aircraft manufacturer? :)

          We have a lot of families working here, both on the manufacturing side and in the white-collar ranks. It’s never a surprise when I meet someone and realize that I know her mother/husband/cousin/etc. Our hiring process makes pure nepotistic hiring more difficult (albeit not impossible). You still have to be capable and still have to get past that dratted online application system.

      2. Tau*

        I think that’s easy to say when you have options, honestly. I’m in a similar situation in that my dad is a Very Big Name in his area and I am staying way the hell away from that area as a result. I don’t want his shadow hanging over me, thanks very much. But the reason I can do that is because things shook out for me in such a way that I don’t need his support to get a good job. I’m in a great job gaining fantastic experience that I got all on my lonesome and I’m really happy about that… but it’s easy for me to see how things could have gone differently, how I could have failed out of uni or wrecked my CV in some way. Given the choice being unemployed/underemployed/working stressful minimum-wage jobs, or having my dad find me a job with a decent salary and actual career development possibilities that might get me out of the hole… I’m pretty sure I know which I’d choose. (In fact, my sibling will most likely need to make this choice soon.) It sounds like OP was in a really tough situation – or a series of tough situations – and I definitely don’t blame them for taking the hand up they were offered.

  24. Meg Murry*

    OP, do you have a boss (besides your father), and have you talked to that person about the best way to get people to meet with you or where exactly to start? Would it be better if you just were assigned to work in different positions on the shop floor for a while (maybe a new role every couple of weeks) so that you could get some hands on experience before trying to write the documentation?

    That said, OP, I agree with everyone else that you need to get out. I worked at a company that had a person very similar to you in a position of responsibility (the CFO’s daughter was the safety manager at a chemical manufacturing facility, despite zero experience in manufacturing, chemistry or safety before getting the job). By the time I started she had been there almost 10 years, and still no one looked on her with much respect – because since she didn’t have any previous experience elsewhere and she didn’t have anyone to train her, she had always just been flying by the seat of her pants and never really learned the ropes from someone with a clue.

    OP, if your father wants you to work in the business for the long term (and you are interested in that as well), the best thing you can do is go get some experience somewhere else, even if that is working as general labor if that is all you are qualified for. You might need to look at a parallel industry instead of a direct competitor ( I doubt a direct competitor would hire you for fear of corporate espionage), but if you want a long term future in the company you need to learn from somewhere other than just being handed an office job.

    If you don’t see this company in your future long term, you need to figure out a short term plan (which may very well be holding on to this position just barely for the next few months) and a mid-term plan for either getting a job elsewhere or going back to school. Or, as other people have mentioned, talk to your father about working out on the shop floor instead, and learn your way into the tech writing role.

  25. Anon Tech Writer*

    As a technical writer, I can’t help but have my hackles go up at the thought that my skills are replaceable by a random person. But… they aren’t are they? That’s the problem you’re struggling with. So from one writer to another: Your attempts to connect are far too open-ended and vague.

    Now, what I’m about to tell you won’t overcome the nepotism factor, but in any job you’re going to end up dealing with at least one person who can’t be pinned down. So here’s how you pin ’em:
    – Not “I need to talk to you about teapot handles” but “I need 10 minutes of your time to explain the teapot handle color differential noticed last week.” Make sure your time estimates are accurate! People tend to respond better when they know exactly how much of their time has to be invested.
    – Not vague “when can you meet” — set a time. If you know about their shift schedules/sprint cycles/whatever, it helps to be sensitive to their needs… but also let them know that *you* know when they’re genuinely busy vs not so slammed. “Sprint ends Thursday, so I know you’ll be busy until then. However, on Friday we can meet at 9, 10, or 11:30 for half an hour to go over the new lid designs for the quarterly report. Which is best for you?”

    The keys are: have a targeted grasp of the info you need. If it’s big, then chop it down to specifics. Have a targeted grasp of how long it ought to take them to impart that information. And have a list of set times that ought to be convenient to choose from. It’s a lot harder for someone to wriggle out of something very specific than blow off something open-ended.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      This. I’d also like to point out some other problems to OP.
      First, because you aren’t qualified you don’t know what you don’t know. You are probably worse than you think. This will drive busy engineers crazy. In their world incompetence is one of the seven deadly sins.
      Second you are asking people for help. It’s not their job to teach you technical writing by sending you corrections over and over again. You are placing an extra burden on them that they would not have to deal with if someone qualified held your position. Of course they resent you!
      Solution – get training in technical writing on your own time. Don’t let the company pay for it because no one else get training after an unqualified hire. Let people know you are correcting the deficiency on your own and they will view you in a much better light.
      That said, they can’t risk being friends with you. Even one accidental slip out of your mouth is dangerous to them.

      1. Meg Murry*

        I am guessing that it’s not so much an issue of OP not knowing technical writing as it is not knowing the processes well enough to write about them – however, if OP is starting from scratch instead of revising existing documents or using current documents as a template for new ones, lack of tech writing know-how will play into it too.

        I think the biggest thing OP needs to figure out is who will work with her, and start there. For instance, she may not need to talk to the chief engineer – she probably is better off just talking to the people doing the job day to day at first. However, that is going to slow down the day to day employees, so she needs permission to do that, so that they don’t have a super unproductive day (or cause a bottle neck if it’s an assembly-line situation).

      2. my two cents*

        “You’re probably worse than you think” is a pretty brutal statement. I’ve received plenty of unnecessary support requests over the years from highly qualified engineers. One of the most frequent topics I get called about now are from engineers who don’t know how to connect a bipolar power supply to our products. Seriously – who sees +15V and -15V and just decided to connect the -15V to ground?!

        1. Engineer Girl*

          It was intended to be plain speaking. OP realizes there is a problem but I’m not sure they get how bad it is. It’s only after you get training in something do you realize how bad you were.

        2. K.*

          It was perhaps a bit blunt, but I did have the thought that if the OP has no experience in technical writing, the industry, or the company … she’s not qualified to do the job she’s in (which she acknowledges). The “you don’t know what you don’t know” piece is critical for technical writing; she may be asking for the wrong information or too much information, and her finished product is going to need more careful review than something done by someone qualified. Technical writing isn’t the kind of job you can throw an entry level person in, even if they write well.

          I’m a marketing & communications person so I do a lot of professional writing, and I’m good at it – but I’ve never applied for a technical writing job, because that’s a different thing.

          1. Laurel Gray*

            I’m totally down with the POV that employers need to stop requiring a 4 year degree or ridiculous amount X years of previous experience is necessary for certain jobs. However, I get the feeling that a combination of experience/education and transferable skills are necessary for the OP to be successful in this role. I think the OP may have some transferable skills but is in the dark about everything else. How reasonable is it to expect someone to learn on the job in an “experienced” role when they have to essentially rely on others in areas that a hire with previous experience wouldn’t have to. If OP came in as an intern working under someone, I don’t think she would have this problem. I’ve seen nepotism at the intern/entry level and I’m not really bothered by it TBH. There is nepotism in college and pro sports (coaches will hire on the whole family). It sucks for those seeking sports management degrees and careers or those who will stay in junior coaching/equipment assistant roles while the ne’er do well child of a coach gets to come on as an assistant with clout and a nice salary. This may be the perception that OP’s coworkers have of her even if it is totally off base (I don’t get that vibe from OP).

            1. Temperance*

              I actually think that the situations are similar. Qualified tech writers, with credentials and experience, were passed over in favor of the CEO’s daughter.

        3. Engineer Girl*

          I would like to point out a false equivalency in your argument. You point out that otherwise qualified engineers have a weakness in One area. This is not the same as having multiple weakness or being totally unqualified.
          The OP, by their own admission, is totally unqualified for the job. They are creating a burden in others as a result of it. This WILL cause resentment irrespective of the connections with the CEO.

          1. my two cents*

            So your suggestion is for the OP to just cut and run, because they’re such a burden and no one likes them anyway?

            If OP is asking the SME’s too many technical questions about the content ‘which will cause resentment’, then the SME’s should be providing more-complete and accurate information. Tech writers aren’t engineers or subject matter experts, and OP shouldn’t be expected to edit for accuracy. But that does mean that the SME’s have to provide accurate and complete info to work from, or just even document what they’re doing while they’re doing it. You’ll be hard pressed to find an engineer who then wants to write a user guide or datasheet for whatever thing they’ve designed, and it’s almost always considered a low priority over development activities.

            But it sounds like OP is going about the review request the wrong way, and should instead keep things concise when asking the SME’s for review. There’s no need for the coworkers to completely snow OP, though. Even if you hate whatever new hire there is, it doesn’t help to tank their career over it.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              My suggestion, clearly spelled out in my post above, was to get trained in technical writing.
              The issue is that OP doesn’t know technical writing AND doesn’t know the processes AND is getting information the wrong way. This is creating an excessive burden on the rest of the team members.

            2. Engineer Girl*

              Also there are certain levels of competency that are expected for each position. For example, I wrote a paper on memory mapping for other engineers. The tech writer insisted that I teach them about bytes and nibbles so they could derive a process off my paper. NO! I won’t do that. The papers target audience is other engineers. They know about that stuff and I don’t have to define it in the paper. If you want to learn about bytes then go Google it. But if you want to use my document to write your own process then I expect you to have a basic proficiency.

              1. my two cents*

                Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I’d wager you’re a staff or R&D engineer, as opposed to a field apps engineer. Reading this last post, I just keep shaking my head slowly – I mean, how DARE the tech writer ask you to add some more background! /sarcasm

                Assuming you both work(ed) in the same company – if that tech writer was tasked with drafting a process document using your white paper, I *do* think you were obligated to at least point them to some reasonable sources for additional background. Their job is to make a document that is easily digested and visually ‘clean’, regardless of if it comes from you or another SME. You basically pulled your Engineer rank, telling the tech writer to figure it out themselves because explaining it was simply beneath you.

                We usually agree on here, but not this time. So it goes.

    2. my two cents*

      I wrote further up as well… I found that, while at OldJob, highlighting the bit of text that needs their attention or using a PDF ‘print’ with sticknotes which can be compiled into a list of edits/changes might make it easier for the SME’s to handle. Make your requests as concise as possible!

  26. Aurion*

    Oof. I see shades of myself in your post, although you’re worse off. I was also an underqualified hire who got in through connections, though not as close as you and your father. I think the fact that your father is a tyrant, you’re underqualified, and that you’re under your father’s protection is the triad that makes this untenable. I only had the connections in my (dis)favour; my boss would’ve fired me if I didn’t work out.

    You can probably overcome one of the three, but all three makes it difficult if not impossible. And technical writing is often a job that is akin to trying to get blood from a stone. The deck is stacked against you.

    I think you just keep doing what you’re doing, but keep an eye out for exit strategies. Try not to throw your coworkers under the bus to your dad when you leave, but otherwise this is out of your hands.

  27. Kristine*

    If the OP also mitigates her father’s reactions to staff and advocates for staff, she may come to be seen as an asset.
    In so doing she will probably incur her father’s wrath, if she has the stomach for it. That could end well or badly for her (and if she gets fired she can look for something else), but if she has the courage, standing up to her father on behalf of staff would probably accomplish quite a bit in the eyes of her fellow workers.

  28. RVA Cat*

    I’m wondering if given the whole impossible situation and potential family drama, if what LW should do is focus on going back to college to complete her degree. That may be the best way to leave the company without CEO-Dad taking it as a personal betrayal….

  29. F.*

    OP, the advice to get out of that company is spot on. You will never know whether you are actually making it or not or if the successes are part of the skids being greased for you and the roadblocks are due to resentment on the part of your coworkers. You had a bad experience at your previous job. Have you considered some short-term counseling to help you put that into perspective and prepare you for your next job? I think when you can finally break away from your father (who, if he is anything like my father is very controlling) and get a job independent of his company or industry, you will experience some true workplace success. Best of luck!

    1. Meg Murry*

      Yes, I also think OP could benefit from some counseling – because the letter is bordering on saying “I’m a screw-up and the only job I could get was one from my CEO dad even though I’m not qualified for it” rather than what I believe to be closer to the truth: “OP had a series of difficult situations and now is trying to do her best in a difficult situation.”

      OP, I fear that you are very hard on yourself, and are focused on not deserving the job – when it would be healthier to focus on how to get past your setbacks and back on a path that makes you happy. What were you planning to study before your car accident? Does that field still interest you? Is your dad bullying you into taking this job by not paying for your college or health insurance anymore (unless the business is brand new or going under, I’m going to assume the CEO probably *could* afford to help you out with these things, but maybe he won’t right now unless you work for him)? It might help to talk to someone about what you can do to get out from under his thumb so you can set your own path, and to build up your self confidence a little.

  30. Retail HR Guy*

    Allison: is there a way you can decline to do business with advertisers that flash unavoidable and unexpected Game of Thrones spoilers? Some of us don’t watch the show the same day it comes out and would appreciate a little consideration here. (I know that you’re not the one being inconsiderate, but the advertising company you use is certainly being extremely rude.)

  31. animaniactoo*

    OP, I work at a fairly large family run company, and even we have issues with the nepotism hires. Precisely because they aren’t qualified to do what they are doing.

    While I agree that you need to get out of there and at a minimum get some more experience somewhere else, some of the things that can help you in the meantime are to a) acknowledge to those you can that you know you don’t know what you need to know, and you’re looking to learn it rather than bungle the job. b) make it clear through word and action that you will never play on the ability to go to dad with whatever *work* issues you may have. At some point, you will probably be given a chance to test that. Don’t fail that test. Talk to your manager, work your correct chain of command in getting help for any issues, and be super-cautious about anything you do ever say to dad – even if it’s to say that “Jack gave me great help with this”. Because even a statement like that which you think is helpful might inadvertently throw Jack – or maybe Ben who was really supposed to help you – under the bus.

  32. Chriama*

    I *strongly* disagree with today’s advice, to the point that I’m surprised by my own vehemence. I don’t think it’s fair to tell the OP that her only option is to get out, and I feel like that advice is being driven by the belief (whether conscious or unconscious) that she doesn’t ‘deserve’ this job and so people are justified in their treatment of her. It’s like a moral judgement and advising her to walk away is like condoning that their behaviour is acceptable, and it really is not.*

    This is the advice I would give:

    OP, I think you should recognize that people are going to take some time to warm up to you. How long have you been there? If it’s less than 6 months, don’t take anything to heart. I think the first thing you need to do is go to your manager (assuming it’s not your dad) and have as candid a conversation as you can. Confirm what your job duties should be and come up with a plan of training. People get hired all the time for jobs they’re not qualified for, and it is usually possible to learn on the job. And then I think you need to get slightly more aggressive/assertive about getting what you need. Book meetings for training instead of letting them “get back” to you. Are there senior people on your team? Shadow their work for a day, tagging along to meetings and taking notes. Going on the shop floor and asking questions is good, but clear it with the supervisor ahead of time so you’re not just getting in people’s way. When it comes to proposing work, check with your manager and start small. As you improve your knowledge you’ll be able to create more valuable work and people will be more willing to help out. In terms of interactions with people, be friendly and polite don’t try to get too close. The coldness is juvenile but their wariness is understandable, so don’t try to be best friends with everyone. Make it clear to people that you’re there to learn and do a good job. If anyone is outright rude to you call them out on it in the moment and then let it go (e.g. someone sends a terse email reply without the information you required, reply telling them they didn’t answer your question). Overall, you’re dealing with a 2-pronged situation of being new to a job with a high learning curve and being in a difficult social situation. However, it’s still possible to succeed.

    Final note: you might look at my advice and realize you’ve been doing all of this for more than 6 months and nothing has changed. Or that you just can’t put up with the atmosphere any longer. In that case, I agree with Alison that you should step up your job hunt. Is going back to university on the table? Could you transition to some kind of admin work at the company, or low stress retail work? It will take a lot of work to get to the point where you’re thriving in this environment, and if it’s not where you want your career to be long-term then it’s better to get out sooner rather than later.

    *Further explanation of why I disagree with the blanket advice to walk away – when people are in situations where they’re being discriminated against, we understand that advising them to just leave the situation (rather than ways they can advocate for themselves) is wrong because it perpetuates the discrimination — everyone gives up without a fight, so attitudes and policies never have to change. I am in NO WAY saying that OP’s situation compares to someone being discriminated against for their race, gender or anything else. However, in the same way that I disagree with that kind of advice, I disagree with this. Life is unfair, people get hired for jobs due to their relationships all the time. OP is trying to do a good job, and that’s more important than how she got there. OP asked for advice on how to succeed, and telling her to walk away because these people are justified in their hostility is validating inappropriate behaviour and invalidating her desires.

    1. fposte*

      We tell people to leave jobs where people are unfair all the time, though. That doesn’t mean there aren’t commenters who disagree and feel that’s letting the offenders win, but “get out” is pretty practical advice that gets given a lot.

      1. Chriama*

        Sure, alongside advice about how she can try to make it work. But that advice was glossed over in favour of a big resounding “Leave!” There’s just such a strong vibe of ‘nepotism is morally wrong -> you, OP, are morally wrong for benefiting from nepotism’ that the other advice is pretty half-hearted.

        1. C*

          I don’t see anyone saying anything about the OP being morally in the wrong on anything here.

    2. C*

      As Christian Troy wisely mentions below, the OP left college and was hired over two candidates who had technical knowledge and experience she does not have. In addition, the perception of nepotism (justified or not) is hellishly difficult to shed.
      AAM’s advice was practical. Framing this as something akin to “discrimination” is not helpful to the OP in her current situation. She’s facing and will continue to face considerable obstacles in making this position tenable long-term.

      1. Chriama*

        I did not frame OP’s situation as something akin to discrimination. I said that biased advice was flawed for the same reason that advice to people dealing with discrimination is flawed. And I acknowledged that there are significant obstacles and OP should seriously consider whether she’s willing and able to ride them out. But that’s different from telling her “forget it, just leave.” It doesn’t need to be systemic discrimination to be disrespectful and inappropriate.

    3. Undine*

      I would tell her to get out, but I don’t see this as a “doesn’t-deserve-the-job-problem”. I see it as a toxic boss problem. Basically, the work environment is so toxic that she can’t succeed at this job no matter what she does.

      Imagine someone wrote in and said, “I’ve got my first job as a health consultant at a small company. I was really excited about improving people’s health, but no one wants to work with me. Now, I just found out that the owner of the company is requiring everyone to get screened as a liver donor for the owner’s brother. I think they feel that my position is part of this effort. What should I do?”

      My answer in this hypothetical scenario is get out. The writer just doesn’t have the traction or opportunity to make it work. And it’s similar in the problem here. It sounds as though this might be a new position, and it’s often the case that when a first writer/trainer/policy person is hired, their job is already ill-defined. In some cases, it is there in an attempt to change culture, which is also very difficult. It’s a position that requires a lot of trust and good-will from co-workers and at the same time, those co-workers can have a schedule that does not really allow them to give you the time you need. This can be difficult even in a functional, pleasant work environment, even for people who are experienced. I’ve been in situations where even the person who hired me hasn’t had the time to work with me after all — and I know in that case it’s not personal.

      On top of this, one of her basic tools in getting things done — copying higher ups on the problems she has — has the potential to really harm the people she wants to work with. It’s likely that either this position is coming from the CEO level without any buy-in from the actual workers, OR it was a position suggested by the workers as a hope that they could get some stuff written down in a way that could protect them from the CEO. If either of those is true, the OP is between a rock and hard place. All this reflects the toxicity of the workplace and not whether or not OP “deserves to have the job.”

      I think if the OP wants to stay at this company, transferring to a more defined, less open-ended position, with a smaller pool of direct co-workers would be a better alternative.

      1. Chriama*

        I think we can acknowledge the difficulty while still giving genuine advice about how to improve. And my issue was that the genuine advice was being overshadowed by the advice to just get out. What if, in your question above, they said:

        “It’s a really difficult economy and I need this job. Plus the health benefits are actually really good and I have a rare condition with expensive medical bills. What can I do to improve this situation, because I’m stuck here for the time being.”

        This is how I perceive the OP’s situation. We all know it’s a sucky situation. We all know that, despite her best efforts, it might not get better. But she’s asked for advice about what she can do to make this work, not whether or not she should even try. And I feel like as long as we’re advising her *not* to try, we can’t give good advice about what to do as long as she is trying.

        So overall my frustration was not that people acknowledged her situation was bad. My frustration was that she asked for specific help and we gave her the opposite. She says she needs this job. Rather than saying ‘get out’ we could have given advice about

        – what to say in a conversation to her manager
        – how to respond to snide comments in a way that builds trust
        – industry-specific advice about being a technical writer
        – how to frame her requests in ways that make it easy for people to respond to her

        If everything about this situation was the same except for the fact that she’s the CEO’s kid, we would have given that advice. We’ve given it in the past. But we skimmed over that part, and that’s what I take issue with.

        (And I know some of the comments have been helpful in that regard. But I think Alison’s was lacking, and others have been in the same vein).

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I strongly believe the OP’s focus needs to be on leaving — not on how to make the current situation more workable. She’s straight out of school with no office work experience, and she’s in a job that she’s not qualified for. That’s a recipe for disaster even without the other details. People on the internet giving her advice about how to do the job will not make her qualified to do the job. Some jobs require experience and training and some professional seasoning; this is one of them. If she were straight out of school and put into, say, a fundraising director role or a spokesperson role, I’d be telling her the same thing.

          She needs to put her focus on moving on. This can be a stop-gap to bring in income while she does that, but this is not likely to be a salvageable situation so I don’t think it would be useful to encourage her to try to make a go of it.

          1. Chriama*

            Thanks for coming back and articulating your perspective! Knowing your reasoning process, I feel more ‘at peace’ with your final response (Is that funny? It’s weird, right?). I don’t agree with it, but I now understand better why you gave the advice you did.

          2. AcademiaNut*

            The problem is that some situations aren’t fixable, no matter what you do. It’s like relationships – counselling or better communication or self help books can often help a rocky relationship, and is usually the first step in working on a serious relationship that isn’t going well. Sometimes, though, the only thing that will help is keeping your head down until you can get the legal and financial stuff in order, and then getting out. And sometimes, leaving in the middle of the night with nothing but the clothes on your back is the best option. The OP, I think, is in the middle stage. Nothing will turn this into a workable situation, but she can try to minimize the pain until she can get another job.

    4. Observer*

      I think you missed the point here. It’s not about the op “not deserving” the job or people’s wariness being justified. It’s about the simple fact that the dynamic is just so bad that it’s unlikely that can succeed, even if she does everything you have suggested.

      Is that fair? No. Is it practical? Yes. Is it in the OP’s best interest? I think so. And I think so because spending day after day in a job that you can’t succeed in, even though it’s not your fault, is soul sucking. And spending day after day in a job where you are the constant object of thinly veiled but very understandable hostility, even though it’s not your fault, is equally draining. Combine the two and it’s exponentially more difficult.

      1. Chriama*

        But the OP came asking for suggestions. Even while we’re acknowledging the difficulty of success, we can give her the advice she actually asked for. Specifically *because* the primary advice was “just get out”, the post didn’t do a good job of giving practical advice if she decides to stay. I had a pretty long list of suggestions – other commenters have offered similar advice, some even more specific to technical writing. I’m sure there are even better suggestions that Alison could have made.

    5. Letter Writer*

      It’s been about three months. So, could technically go either way… but the company culture is not in my favor. Everyone zeroes in on their own department and quietly complains about the ones abutting it, process-wise. CEO-Dad has a much-hated habit of mandatory weekly meetings laying down ironclad deadlines that are *impossible* to meet without cutting corners, and he doesn’t respect me enough to take in any feedback I give him unless he gets to be punitive about it. Those patterns are pretty deeply engraved and unlikely to change unless someone less entangled than me can shove at them. It’s a problem that needs solving, but I’m in the worst possible position to do it.

  33. Down the road*

    OP, you talk about people being afraid you could get them fired and being upset that you got this job over other more qualified candidates, but what you may be missing is that, in your desperation to have a job, your first act in this job (that of taking the job) lacked integrity.

    What your coworkers know about you is that you were willing to take a job from more qualified candidates, putting your own interests ahead of the company’s, other candidates’, and theirs (since they will have to spend time teaching you a job instead of getting to work with someone more knowledgeable).

    This really is a no-win situation and a tough lesson to learn. I am sorry you are having to go through it.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think it lacks integrity to accept a job offered to you. (Assuming the job itself is legal.) If there are ethical problems, they’re on the side of the CEO.

      1. INTP*

        Agree. The ethical responsibility is on the candidate to represent their qualifications correctly and the company to screen for the necessary qualifications. The OP did nothing wrong.

        There are obvious exceptions where doing a job you aren’t qualified for could really damage people (i.e., if someone were willing to pay me to be a surgeon or an architect or a pilot knowing my lack of qualifications it would not be acceptable for me to take those jobs). This doesn’t sound like one of those jobs, though, and who is to say that if OP hadn’t accepted, they would pay up for a true experienced instructional designer?

      2. Down the road*

        Obviously I disagree. To take a job you are not qualified for over people who are, when you know the only reason you are being offered it is that your father over-rode the hiring of more qualified candidates, is really problematic to me. This isn’t some hiring manager the OP doesn’t know deciding to give her a chance because she has Mary Richards’ spunk. This is her Dad putting his child ahead of the good of the organization and the child going along with it.

        The OP may eventually learn the job and be great at it, but people will always remember she came in through the side door instead of the front door like everyone else. The hiring process was rigged, and she was okay with it. What will happen when one of these coworkers goes up against the daughter for promotion?

        My point here is that the OP’s coworkers may be questioning the integrity of the boss’s daughter who rode in on coattails, and that their distancing themselves from her may be rooted in deep-seated trust issues rather than just worrying about her tattling to Dad.

        1. Aurion*

          But people come in through the side door all the time. Hiring is an imperfect process and not always a meritocracy.

          Of course, CEO-Dad being a tyrant and protecting the nepotism hire magnifies this problem. But there are plenty of times where a manager protects their subordinates because they’re golf club buddies or whatever, blood relations need not apply. Unfair favourtism is a problem, but the OP is not morally lacking for wanting to try their hand at a very stretch position, assuming she represented herself fairly. She probably thought she could succeed. Maybe that’s not the case; the deck seems very stacked against her, and her father isn’t helping. The coworkers may be distancing themselves because they’re afraid of the personal connection, which is understandable. But none of that means the OP “lacks integrity.”

          1. Down the road*

            “It happens all the time” is actually not true. The majority of hiring processes are handled through systems that are designed to remove as much prejudice as possible. It happens occasionally (statistically speaking) that people are hired by relatives for jobs they are not qualified to do. And when it happens, other employees become distrustful not just of the hirers but of the hirees as well. Morale tends to suffer because the hiring process is seen as unfair.

            I did not say the OP was morally lacking, only that her coworkers might view her willingness to take advantage of connections to get a job she was not qualified to do as an act that lacked integrity. A person who is willing to do this might also use those connections for promotions, for vacation preferences, to get a better office, etc. My point is that the OP may have a steeper hill to climb than she realizes, because the distrust that results from her taking this job may be deeper than just worrying about her tattling to Dad.

            1. Student*

              What basis do you have for this? Actual studies on the subject show that there is tons of bias in hiring. Almost nothing is done routinely to try to mitigate it – even very easy measures, like obscuring names in first-round resume screenings to reduce gender/ethnic/racial bias.

      3. I'm Not Phyllis*

        I absolutely agree with you. And let’s be honest, MANY people find jobs through their personal networks (and jobs they aren’t fully qualified for!).

    2. Chriama*

      Lacks integrity? For taking a job that was offered to her and doing everything she can to learn and be a useful employee? When she has a real need for financial and medical support? That may be the perspective of some of her coworkers but that doesn’t make it true, and is not a “lesson” the OP should be trying to internalize.

      1. Down the road*

        I don’t question that she is trying hard, but it was a rigged hiring process where she benefitted from a handout from her Dad. We seem to be okay in this thread saying Dad is behaving unethically in offering the position, but a person who knowingly benefits from an unethical act carries no responsibility?

        1. Chriama*

          Honestly? Yes. She did what she needed to do. It’s quite possible (and maybe even likely) that part of the reason she hasn’t been able to get up to speed is because her coworkers are being actively unhelpful. So do they lack integrity for that behaviour? Instead of venting on OP, they could get her the info she needs when she asks, which would help her produce better work, which would help them. All hiring processes are rigged. Humans are naturally biased. We like people who had impressive titles, or went to good schools, or that are spoken of well by people we like. The world is not a meritocracy. And while I understand the resentment that might come from such a blatant reminder that merit doesn’t always win out, it doesn’t mean the OP did anything wrong.

          1. Temperance*

            This is my unpopular opinion, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to help a nepotism hire, especially if I needed to train her on basic aspects of her job and I had an insane workload of my own. Teaching someone a position that typically requires lots of specialized training and a degree is not something I would be willing to do.

            I’m coming at this from the perspective of a person who never had such an easy go of the career world, and who feels some kind of way about it, FWIW.

    3. Aurion*

      I don’t think it’s fair to the OP to say her taking the job “lacked integrity”. Underqualified people get hired all the time, for better or worse. Sometimes they can succeed just fine. The OP isn’t one of them, apparently, but that doesn’t make her choice to accept a job offer morally lacking.

      If there are ethical problems, they’re on the hiring side (the CEO father).

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        Yes, I agree that this doesn’t seem fair at all to the OP. Also, it’s not clear to me that she wouldn’t have been able to succeed under normal conditions at the job (i.e., where she wasn’t being frozen out by her coworkers). So the moral outrage at her willingness to take a job from more experienced candidates seems misplaced; for all we know, she may not have even known there were more experienced candidates for the job until she had already accepted it and started work (not that that fact would have been something that she was obligated to factor into her decision, but something to consider).

        Honestly, the one who deserves the blame here is the CEO. Based on what’s in the letter, most of the responsibility for creating the environment at the company, and for the hiring process that brought the OP in, falls on him.

        1. Chinook*

          “So the moral outrage at her willingness to take a job from more experienced candidates seems misplaced; for all we know, she may not have even known there were more experienced candidates for the job until she had already accepted it and started work (not that that fact would have been something that she was obligated to factor into her decision, but something to consider).”

          Exactly. How do we know that those with more experience would have been a good fit for the company? AAM is the first to point out that more experience is not the same as best qualified.

          On top of that, is this is a family company, the OP may have more knowledge about it than she is giving herself credit for because she grew up with as part of her life. With a father like she describes, I do not doubt there were discussions about work at home. And she does have a university education, which means she is not some uneducated high school drop out who can’t string two sentences together. Is it the same as being an experienced technical writer? Of course not. But, depending on what her degree is in, she is possibly qualified from an educational perspective. (I speak as a B.Ed. English major who is working part time as a technical writer – I am not qualified on paper but I bring different skills and insights than your average employee and can guarantee that those training questions are actually useful for judging comprehension.)

          OP, I suspect part of what you have going on is imposter syndrome which is exasperated by knowing you didn’t get your job solely on your merits. But take a look at your dad – would he hire just any of his kids to do what you are doing (or his brother-in-law or second cousin) or do you bring to the table specific skills and knowledge that make you qualified? Did he pick this particular job for you specifically because he thinks you can do it or was it just the only one available? I am hoping, for your sake, that the answer isn’t “any job would have done” because, if it is, then you need to get out ASAP. But, if he thinks (in his own, egotistical way) that this is a job you can do, then take this as a vote of confidence and work hard to prove him right.

    4. OlympiasEpiriot*

      We don’t know that she was ‘offered’ the job; she very well may have been pressured into it (and the interview) for whatever reason by her father.

      This really sounds like a horrible situation and like getting physically far away would be good.

    5. I'm a Little Teapot*

      Considering the LW’s situation (car accident, horrible former job that almost killed her, and that – as she’s explained in the comments – her only “choice” aside from this job was imminent homelessness – that’s a really crappy thing to say.

  34. Christian Troy*

    The OP says she couldn’t handle a min wage job, has no college degree, and was hired over two qualified candidates. I think she should find a job that makes sense for her education and skill level and is an opportunity for her to succeed. This is not a situation she can succeed since as someone mentioned above, she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know.

      1. Chriama*

        Lots of people don’t know what they don’t know — that’s why we learn. I think we should be giving OP advice about how to succeed in this situation. Yes, it may be hard. Maybe even impossible for the OP to accomplish. But she asked for advice about how to make it work, and we can acknowledge the difficulty and still give her that advice.

        1. Christian Troy*

          When I say people don’t know what they don’t know, I mean that learning tends to happen through entry level work experience and formal education where there is opportunity to fail and make mistakes in a generally controlled environment where you can receive direct feedback. I think the OP has too many gaps in this foundation for her to learn on the job or get the feedback she needs to be successful in this role right now. If she was brought on as an intern or at an entry level position with significantly less responsibility and had a direct manager, I think this situation would have a better chance of working long term.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      The first step is seeing if one exists in the company! I think perceptions would change and hard feelings would go away if OP was in a role that was more in line with her skill set. For example, if OP previously worked in fast food or retail etc maybe their is a junior role in purchasing/procurement that OP can work her way up in.

  35. One of the Sarahs*

    What I’m wondering, is whether OP is right in identifying it as people not responding to her because they don’t like her and are scared of her father, because that would be really poor strategy. If I were worried about my job, I’d try to help out Terrible CEO Daughter, in case she told her dad I was unhelpful.

    I’m wondering if it’s more along the lines of what fposte and the various engineers and technical writers wrote upthread, that the non-response is motivated more by terrible workloads, and this being way down their priorities, and could be helped by phrasing requests in more specific ways.

    I *completely* understand why OP thinks this is all about her, and I don’t mean this as criticism, as it sounds like a toxic and anxiety-inducing workplace, and she’s already suffering lower self-esteem. But re-framing it in her mind could make things easier for her. My advice would be to listen to the people who understand these jobs upthread, and when you’re hitting roadblocks, don’t assume it’s all about you as a person.

    Also, can you get some counselling or support in general? And as everyone else says, look for a new job!

    Massive good luck OP, I hope things get better for you.

  36. newlyhr*

    OP, I join the group telling you to find something else. If you want to work in the family business, return to it as a qualified candidate. My experience has been that people may not like nepotism in the workplace, but they will tolerate it IF the person is truly qualified for the work they are doing. In your case you have two strikes against you—you’re the boss’ daughter AND you aren’t qualified to do what you are doing. I give you big props for trying to learn the job, but you will continue to have difficulties until you show up with some outside experience under your belt.

  37. coffee or tea*

    OP, I too was a nepotism hire and feel for you. Granted, this was a high school job and not professional-level but I believe many of the experiences translate. My dad was also a difficult boss. It took me a good year to gain the trust and friendliness of my co-workers, though I was always kept at arms length. Alison’s advice is spot on. Just keep your head down, be friendly and empathetic. Work hard. You’ll have to work 100% harder than anyone else to get half the credit. If you show you are serious about the job most people will eventually come around and respect you, or at least help you out. Some people never will and will always view you as the “bosses spoiled child”, and that’s okay, you’ll just need to figure out how to effectively work with them. Also, don’t be surprised if people give you the cold shoulder after having a bad interaction with your dad. I found if I gave them a day or two they realized I was not my dad and our working relationship went back to normal. Best of luck!

  38. Chriama*

    Oh man, my biggest frustration here is people saying OP shouldn’t be there because she doesn’t deserve to be there. It’s turned this entire situation into a moral reckoning. OP is in a bad situation (it sounds both financial and healthwise) and everyone is talking about how she should leave because her coworkers don’t trust her (and implying or outright stating that they shouldn’t trust her). They don’t know her, and haven’t given her a chance to prove herself! I think she would be better served with advice about how to make this work, especially since *that’s what she asked for*. It’s one thing to acknowledge that things might take a long time to change – maybe even longer than OP could handle staying at this job – but we’re making her decision for her, and that’s not cool.

    1. BBBizAnalyst*

      From the letter, it doesn’t appear OP is actually qualified for the role so I tend to agree with the commenters that she should find something else. I would feel differently if she actually had the qualifications but this hiring appears so off base. This is where nepotism goes wrong.

    2. Laurel Gray*

      Let’s get real for a moment here….long term do you really think the situation will improve for OP? She doesn’t even know what she is doing, she has no previous experience and very very limited knowledge in her job role. She’s supposed to constantly ask for help from the same people who watched qualified candidates get passed over for her because she’s the bosses daughter and they are supposed to go out of their way to be helpful? Even if they increase their helpfulness, they don’t have to like her or be her friend or create anything beyond a work environment with basic decency and respect. After reading Anon Tech Writer’s post above I refuse to believe someone can really be successful in this role long term without previous experience/education no matter who their daddy is.

      The advice about how to make this work is that it can’t work. Long term it can’t but she can use the advice given to cope in the meantime.

      1. Chriama*

        > Even if they increase their helpfulness, they don’t have to like her or be her friend or create anything beyond a work environment with basic decency and respect.

        But isn’t that long term success? OP is asking how she can get what she needs to do her job. If she can learn and gain experience here and accomplish some real work product, she can work her way up in this company or leverage it to a job at another company. But this is where she is now, and we can be realistic about the difficulty without perpetuating the very moral judgement she’s trying to deal with.

        1. Laurel Gray*

          Based on the OP’s letter, I am not convinced that she can accurately learn how to excel in this job at this level on the job. I say this as someone who has been friends with the boss’ daughter/son where they entered the company at roles that were in line with their current skill set.

          1. K.*

            I agree with you. She was hired for a job that requires skill, qualifications, and experience that she simply does not have. Technical writing is not an entry-level job, and based on what she’s said about her education and work experience, she’s fighting above her weight class.

          2. Chriama*

            I’m not convinced that she will either, but she’s asking for help on how to try and that’s what I offered her.

    3. animaniactoo*

      Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is to help them recognize when a situation isn’t workable. Okay, maybe you can make it work out in say 2% of cases, but those are some pretty slim odds. I wouldn’t advise anybody to shoot for odds that slim. I’d advise them on the best case scenario *for them*. In this case, OP has so much stacked against them, that this is a situation which isn’t workable.

      Alison has said that she’s modified her advise over time to be less “get out” and more “here’s what you can try to do about that”, because there are certain aspects that will just always be true. Great workplaces are far and few between and the best that most people can hope for is “pretty good” and many more cope with “livable” in order to pay the bills and support themselves and because even “pretty good” is sometimes a reach. But when the situation is probably not something that can be solved due to the number or severity of factors involved, she still goes for “get out”. Compassionately, but firmly “you can’t kid yourself that this is going to work out” style.

    4. I'm Not Phyllis*

      You and I are in the minority, because I agree with you. If she’s going to leave, she should focus on getting a good reference out of it. But whether she wants to leave or not, she should focus on doing her job. She is most certainly not the only person in the world (or even in that particular company) who had less experience then she should have when she started, or even who got the job through a personal connection. The key here is to be professional and to expect others to do the same. OP isn’t holding people accountable specifically because she’s the boss’s daughter, and is worried about how she’ll be perceived. It’s impacting her job and performance even while she’s trying not to let it. Treat your colleagues like you would any other colleagues. Pretend your dad doesn’t even work there and get ‘er done.

      1. Chriama*

        Yup. Sometimes people are even hired into roles that were created just for them, because the company liked something about their skillset so much. Jobs are often fluid, and just because OP isn’t good at this one yet doesn’t mean she won’t be someday.

        Anyway, OP, I hope you read all these comments and something here helps you, whether it’s making the day to day of your job more bearable or giving you the inspiration/courage to leave and find something else. And either way, I hope you come back and update us!

    5. LQ*

      I think there is a lot of good advice on how to handle this from people who are SMEs or have to work with them often either gathering technical documents or other kinds of work. That this is always a hard thing to do and some very specific things including language on how to get meetings, feedback, where to start. There is a lot of that here. (I know I’m reading it intently as someone who is occasionally frustrated by a subject matter expert not getting back to me in the time I need!)

      1. Chriama*

        I did see some of that advice. I wanted to see more of it, because that’s what the OP asked for. But that’s why we have a commenting section too – so opposing viewpoints can all have their say. So I’m thankful for that.

    6. Argh!*

      No, OP should leave because it’s a no-win. Being in the wrong job is a nightmare no matter what the cause.

    7. Jerry Blank*

      I think the people who have worked hard to become engineers and technical writers should have the engineering and technical writing jobs, she said as someone who would absolutely take well-paying job if a family member offered it.

      Seriously, the practice irks me and it’s so rampant in my company (it even led to a multi-million dollar teapot scandal about which a best-selling book was written), but if I could help my kid with a job, I would. If someone wanted to help me with a job, I’d let them. I hate grey areas, but there you go.

      OP, if you could do any job in the world, what would it be? If your dad is well-connected, maybe he knows someone in a field you’d enjoy and have an aptitude for. He probably works with tons of vendors that do all kinds of things. You can’t really do anything without connections these days, so don’t beat yourself up over being the bosses’ daughter. I’d love to live in a meritocracy, but there’s no such thing.

      Ftr, some of the nepotism hires in my company have worked out really well.

  39. Meg Murry*

    I also wonder if the fact that OP is a young woman is playing any part in this, given that manufacturing is often a male dominated field. Not that I’m suggesting OP go screaming “sexism! It’s sexism!” to her father, because that won’t help – but it might help OP to watch her co-workers and see if there is a confident woman she could emulate in speech and mannerisms. Especially if OP has been coming around the office for a while, many of the old time employees may be thinking of her as a little girl still, rather than an adult. The book “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” may be able to help OP identify any “little girl” mannerisms that are holding her back.

    It also may be best to for OP to start with some employees that haven’t known her since she was a kid, so she can make a good first impression now, rather than try to overcome old impressions. Or maybe the reverse is true – perhaps there is a department head that has always been kind to OP that would help her make inroads

  40. jbern*

    OP, I was a co-worker/project supervisor of the 20-something year old daughter of the head of our group. There was almost no separation between the two. They sat next to each other in staff meetings and had lunch together in the corner office. The parent shared emails and information with her that he wouldn’t share with other staff members and sent her to special company training that would have gone to more senior staff members. The father’s decisions regarding his daughter jeopardized projects and reputations. The daughter’s manager left due to the stress. I had to speak up on occasion to discuss issues that involved the daughter, individually and the group that she was a part of. It did not end well for me, in terms of personal stress and the passive aggressive push back I got from her father: work given to other staff members, not invited to meetings, sneers when no one else was looking.

    The thing is, I wanted the daughter to succeed. I thought she was bright. But her father put her in a very difficult situation by bringing her into a smallish group and then giving her special treatment. She made it worse, though, through her actions and attitude. And at some point, I couldn’t get far enough away from her.

    I wish I could scrub that experience from my memories.

    I’m telling you this to let you know how difficult it is for coworkers in this situation. Take Alison’s advice and find another job. Heck, see if your father can use his connections to get you another job. This experience will likely be a waste of your time – you can’t do the job and you’re not being given opportunities to improve. All it will give you is more work-related psychological stress and a paycheck.

  41. Nobody Here By That Name*

    I was in the situation of being given the nepotism hire in a situation similar enough to OPs that I had to reread to make sure this wasn’t my company. To the credit of the young woman who was thrust upon me, she made it so that you would have never known that she was the CEO’s daughter if nobody told you. I offer some examples of her behavior in case they might be of help to you, OP.

    First, she and her father kept their relationship professional at the office. She started out calling him Dad but decided to call him by his first name to help keep the distance in the office. Likewise the two of them didn’t engage in much family type things in the office – no displays of affection, no taking time out to talk about vacation plans (or if they did, only very briefly as it related to her father’s work schedule).

    Next, she worked HARD. Not saying that you don’t, OP, as I saw the part about you working on the floor. But I feel it’s worth stressing that her work ethic was something that helped people get past the nepotism. As a nepotism hire, the slightest sign of slacking is going to look like taking shameless advantage of the job. On the other hand, working above and beyond everyone else made it so that everyone complimented her work and only mentioned her relationship in the context of how she wasn’t coasting on it.

    She also worked hard to learn. She had an advantage there as she had me as a mentor. Which isn’t to toot my own horn so much as say I don’t know if you, OP, have someone in a mentor role you can turn to. But barring that you can take the advice of others here about educating yourself. There are many free online resources that you can use to learn about training and hone your skills. But on the job you, like she, could approach others with an attitude that shows respect for their experience and how you can best work with them. Here’s where AAM scripts can come in handy. “Hey Sansa, I notice whenever we talk about scheduling a meeting we always say ‘next week’ but never get around to it. What do you think is the best way to make sure we get something on the calendar?”

    Finally, she also made it clear that even though she had a direct line to private company information that she was not a gossip. Bear in mind she lived at home with her father which everyone knew. So she was up against the knowledge that whenever she went home from work she could talk her dad’s ear off at the dinner table about whatever she wanted to. But she always conducted herself in a way that made it clear she was someone with integrity. This one is harder to give examples of but for instance she never talked about what her dad said in relation to work when he was at home even if it wasn’t confidential. And she wasn’t a work gossip in general, which made people feel more confident that she wasn’t the kind of person who would run and tell her dad the latest dirt on somebody.

    Granted, nobody here was openly hostile towards her, but I do know there was much eye rolling and resentment about her hiring that she did manage to turn around using all of the above behaviors. So perhaps some of that might work for you?

    Good luck.

  42. MindoverMoneyChick*

    Ugh…while I think AAM advice is probably best, I will say that my former industry was training/technical writing and we needed the help of technical SMEs all the time. And it was really, really hard to get. We were contractors getting paid for this but had such a hard time wrangling the clients SMEs for meetings we had to have in order to be able to do our job that deadlines were impacted all the time. And it was most of the time because it just wasn’t a priority for our SMEs. They were busy doing their jobs, and unless they had a manager who was very on board with getting the training develop as one of her priorities, this was just an on-going struggle.

    So while I’m sure some of this does have to do with the nepotism factor, just know it’s also incredibly common even without that wrinkle when doing this type of work. Again, appeals to an invested manager sometimes helped. Gentle persistence sometimes paid off. Learning as much as possible from existing documentation and then asking for help filling in the gaps was always good practice too. Sorry this is so tough :(

    1. Letter Writer*

      I appreciate that. The admin who used to do this work was very up-front with me that getting information or feedback was the biggest time suck of the job. Nothing personal about it. I’m just upset that I can’t get anything worthwhile to do in the meantime.

  43. A. Nonymous*

    This is a huge problem with writing/tech world writing. People assume anyone off the street can do a fine job of it and so they try to make it pennies on the word or give it to someone as a “favor”. Any sort of writing is a skillset that you may not have had the ability to hone yet.

    OP, none of that is your fault and it puts you at a huge disadvantage. It sounds like you’ve never been in a technical environment before? I know that before I started writing and consulting I was an engineer for 7 years. It helped me tremendously getting where I wanted to go because I knew how processes worked and was familiar with jargon/workflow/project timelines.

    My advice to you is to go get some experience in the field you want to write for. It’ll help you immensely in the long run.

    Good luck, OP and take care of yourself. If you’re worried about your mental or physical health this can’t be helping. For what it’s worth it doesn’t sound personal.

    1. K.*

      This is what I’ve been trying to get at when I say technical writing isn’t an entry-level job. People assume anyone can write, and that’s really, really wrong. I battle constantly with people at work who think they’re good writers because they send texts and write emails all day. I worked with a guy who was a subject matter expert in a particular area and he could talk about it all day long, but he couldn’t write and had no idea how badly he wrote – he thought he was great, but his subjects and verbs didn’t agree. I managed a freelance writer who was excellent at long-form stuff (ebooks, white papers) but couldn’t write a short ad, social media posting, or SEO web copy to save her life. Writing is a skill; different kinds of writing requires different skills. The OP has to first learn how to be a technical writer and THEN learn the business, and that’s a huge learning curve.

      1. A. Nonymous*

        Exactly! There is a huge difference in translation as well. If you’re an expert on a subject matter you tend to take for granted that other people don’t have basic touchstones of information that you do. The information you then put out then isn’t very useful or it requires the reader to take a lot of time to google-foo their way thru the documentation. I usually try to approach it in that way when dealing with high-level knowledge. “Hey, you and I get this because we’re in the field and I understand you, but this document needs to be read by the TeapotRegulations department and they won’t follow.”

        When I had just graduated I did SEO work and while I enjoyed some of it, most of the business just made me very happy it was only a stop-gap. That turnaround time was going to kill me.

        I’ve only very recently started dipping my toes into trying to tech write as my only job instead of what I’m doing on the side. I’m starting to wonder if the field’s for me due to your exact frustration. I’ll mention that if they need words written that I’m available to take on a project and their offer for the work is almost always borderline insulting. Or they think they’ll do just as good a job themselves.

      2. One of the Sarahs*

        It’s the same in my field too – this idea that because people could write a good essay at school, and tweet themselves, they’re able to be good social media/writers. I can’t even imagine adding in the technical level!

      3. blink*

        Ha, yeah–I’m technically a writer. Doesn’t make me a technical writer. (Also, I hate how much the various writing professions get devalued just because most people know how to read and write. I occasionally feel like all that stands between me and a stable income is some ass at MOMA staring at a Rothko saying, “I don’t see what the big deal is, my four-year-old could do that.”)

  44. StephThePM*

    I’ve got a different take on this situation, although I generally agree with the advice that this may not be a long-term location for you. I’m also assuming that you’re trying to develop these (very transferrable) skills in training design and development, and you may not get an opportunity quite like this elsewhere.

    Assuming that you need to stay where you are for financial reasons…

    I am a firm believer in that you need to do what is right for you. If you need this job, the insurance and money that goes with it to get through this period in your life, then you do what you need to do to survive this environment and get whatever skills you need to position yourself going forward. You won’t always have that ‘safety net’ or double-edged sword, of your Dad as CEO. How long has this been going on? Are we talking 2 weeks or 5 months?

    If you were my friend, here’s what I’d tell you to do (and for the record, you sound very empathetic and hardworking, all of which will shine through over time). You sound like you’re at least of the mind set of making it easy for people to work with you.

    I think that a lot of us are sitting here thinking about what it would be like to be working with the kid of the CEO, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why people aren’t bending over backwards to assist you (especially with your attitude as described). Which leads me to only assume one or more of the following:
    a)You are over-thinking/over-sensitive to the situation, and are over-blowing this in your mind. For the record, people bring in people from old jobs all the time, and sometimes, they’re not competent. While they may not be blood related, it’s the same type of scenario. Also, I’m a “from a previous life” hire, too – and it was a little awkward at first, but I explained the connection, am scrupulous about not taking advantage of my connection to my bosses’ boss, and I perform…so I sort of get your discomfort, on a smaller level, here.
    b) Your coworkers are not clear on your mission and that they, in fact, do need to cooperate with the person in your role. At some point, it becomes totally irrelevant how or why you’re where you are – you’re in the role and the work needs to get done. End of Story.
    c) They really don’t like you and are trying to get out of helping.
    d) training and documentation is not a priority to them.

    With my last 18 years in business, and stints as both an instructional designer and tech writer, I’ve got to believe that it’s B and D, and it may help you to operate (mentally) in this space. If the mission and priority are not clear, I’m not dropping higher priority and/or client work to help with an internal training project. Training and documentation are often last on anyone’s list of priorities, so that may be a factor here as well.

    Stop thinking of yourself and referring to yourself as the CEO’s kid and refer to yourself (mentally) as the Instructional Designer for XYZ.

    Talk to your supervisor, as previously suggested by others and AAM and outline what you’re supposed to do, what needs to happen, and the response you need to get, and ask for her/his suggestions and support. Clarify a timeline and priority. Ideally, your supervisor talks to the management staff, and reviews expectations with everyone. If you don’t get his/her support, honestly, here’s what I’d do next.

    Focus your time on putting together a plan and a schedule. Forget learning about the floor and the industry. Think through what you need to accomplish in order to put a training class together. Ask outsiders/professors/etc. for feedback if you have to. Put together a clear path forward and a realistic schedule for any knowledge transfer you need and putting together these training courses. If there is no specific due date, plan 1 week for general project approach definition, and then maybe use 3 weeks per specific class with week 1 – investigation week 2 – drafting – week 3 – review/update.

    As uncomfortable as it may be, set up a “mandatory” meeting, invite everyone that you’re supposed to be working directly with, and conduct a meeting that outlines your role, your immediate objective/priority, the schedule, your expectations, and what you need from them in order to do it successfully. Tell them at the beginning that you need to walk out of the meeting with a schedule, or, at a minimum, where the conflicts are so that you can work with management on an approach. Outline how you’re approaching the initiative and ask for any contributions/input. Outline the schedule and what time commitment / involvement everyone will need to have. Ask for input to the schedule but don’t let them override you. (E.g., “None of the weeks work for anyone? OK – we need to horsetrade as the commitment is to have all of these done by September 1. Jenny, can you take Next Week, and Barbara, July 3? How can we accomplish this?”).

    Ultimately, the solution may be to go to your Supervisor, and if that doesn’t work, your Dad, and outline that you don’t have the buy-in necessary to complete the task, that you’ve done these 12 things, identified these 4 obstacles, and you need advice as to where to go from here in order to accomplish the mission. I’m being very ‘take no prisoners here’ – but I’m thinking about this as a “me first” situation. This is above and beyond being the daughter – it’s that a mission can’t be accomplished b/c of these obstacles.

    I know that you’ve had a tough go of things, so you may not be up for this level of “no BS” approach. A slightly altered approach would be to identify either a most-helpful person or one of those people who work for your dad who you get along with best, presumably who also either oversee or can influence the people that you need to help, and “run your plan by them” and ask for suggestions to get to a workable plan. This might even bee a good step 1 before you call a mtg.

    Do what you need to do here, for you. I fear that you may encounter this sort of situation in the future as a “new person” or, at a minimum, in an instructional design/technical role and you’ll need to be able to navigate it without the factor of your dad at play (positive or negative).

    Good luck.

    There’s some really sage advice above about how to/not to navigate a relationship with your dad at work.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      I agree with this advice, minus the part about going to dad. OP should avoid this at all costs if possible.

      1. StephThePM*

        Yeah, it’s definitely a take-no-prisoners approach. I totally agree – OP should avoid going to Dad at all costs, but when it comes down to accomplishing the mission, she may need to go there.

    2. Rick*

      I really like your points.

      Though, the “mandatory” meeting may run contrary to company culture and increase resentment, depending on what’s standard.

    3. StephThePM*

      I also wanted to add, if you’re not clear on how to develop a class, you should be able to get some benchmark direction on The Google. Else, think about it like an outline. There’s a lot of theory and study behind it, but when it comes down to it, you need to identify what the goals & objectives are for the training (what do people need to walk out of the training understanding or being able to do), the format you’ll use (computer-based, materials, classroom/lecture, power point, etc.), the information necessary to explaining or informing people on those objectives, any activities necessary to underscoring the learning, and how you’ll measure if you’re successful/receive feedback on the materials

      Note: that’s very simplified.

  45. I'm Not Phyllis*

    I’d focus on getting a good reference! Assuming that your manager isn’t one of the people standing in the way of doing your job, ask for his/her help. Ask your manager to have your back and do a damned good job on everything he/she gives you.

    Also, don’t try to overcompensate for the fact that your dad may be difficult to work with. You can’t control that. He may have hired you because you’re his kid and people may resent that but honestly – taking it out on you isn’t helpful and it’s standing in the way of ALL of your successes. Stop thinking like the boss’s kid and start thinking like the professional you are. All of the professional norms should still apply to you – you are allowed to expect people to return your calls and emails, to meet their deadlines, and to be – if not courteous – at least civil to you when they see you. You aren’t expecting them to walk on eggshells because of who your dad is, so don’t feel obligated to walk on eggshells for that reason yourself!

  46. Rick*

    OP, convincing people to help is always something of an art.

    My recommended technique is to establish buy-in to the overall goal of the project first, then work backwards to their necessary contribution. For example, “One out of every ten teapots is being shipped with an upside-down spout, causing huge headaches for our support team and exposing the company to huge liabilities. We can solve this by writing clear spout-installation procedures. As the Master Teapot Maker, 30 minutes of your time to review the procedures would save the company a lot of money.”

    Good luck!

  47. aaa*

    Yeah, I don’t see how you can ever untie yourself from CEO-Dad. You’re doing the right things, but you’re stuck, and your best bet is to try to get a good job elsewhere ASAP.

  48. CJ*

    I find this side of the coin fascinating. I also works for not one but both parents dad was CEO mom was a VP and they were both very well liked. I never had any road blocks BUT and its a big BUT I started at the very very bottom of the food chain minimum wage sweeping floors and had to work my way up. I doubt the OP would have had such a cold response had they started lower.

  49. coffeeandpearls*

    Ooh . . . I was that kid once. I took a summer internship at a department in my mom’s office. I was told they really needed help and I really needed money, so I took the position (after an interview!). People there were nice – too nice! At first I thought people were getting to know me, being new. I noticed that people just wanted to hear things about my mom’s private life. Someone actually said “I never thought of the (Mom’s title) as someone who could be a mother”! I noticed also that the office manager was tracking everyone’s bathroom times . . . but that’s another story!
    I then transferred to a branch in my college town that had a totally different vibe. Someone pulled me into their office and told me she had seen my work from the first location and told me that my work basically sucked. I was so embarrassed, but so thankful! I didn’t receive any training or critique at my hometown location and I had no idea I was doing certain things wrong!
    Build up some professional experience for your resume and then run, girl, run! You’ll feel so much better being known only for your own work.

  50. Ruthie*

    I don’t see this situation as dire as AAM does.

    First of all, nepotism is common. In my experience working on Capitol Hill and in the non-profit advocacy field in DC, nepotism hires are routine. In fact, just about all of my jobs and internships have been the direct result of my aunt’s relationships. The woman in the office next to me is the daughter of a board member. I had an intern who was the brother of one of my colleagues, and many who were friends with my boss’ kids (some of them were terrible, some of them were incredible). A family member just hired her underemployed sister to work at her very small business. And not to mention all the Anheuser Buschs and Johnson & Johnsons of the world.

    Nepotism happens, and it’s not inherently a bad thing.

    Second of all, less experienced candidates get hired all the time for many different reasons. I watched helplessly as my former teammate get hired after being terrible in his interview because he was from the same hometown as my boss. Sometimes the more experienced candidates just wouldn’t be the right personality fit, and sometimes the hiring manager is just looking for someone who can grow into the position over time.

    So I see this as less of a nepotism problem that is unlikely to resolve itself, and more of an issue adapting to a new work environment. How would you handle the situation if you weren’t related to the CEO? In my last job, my colleagues were just like yours: “Nobody’s rude, but nobody’s talking to me, either.” I often had to follow up two or three times to get requested and promised information/materials. Over time, I realized it had nothing to do with me. Some colleagues and cultures are just resistant to change and new employees.

    Maybe work on being assertive and following up with your colleagues. I know it’s difficult to do, especially when you’re new to the office and don’t want to step on toes. But over time, you’ll grow more confident following up with people and it won’t seem like such a big deal.

    And continue to be warm, friendly, and interested in learning everything you can that will be helpful in your job.

    I don’t think it’s impossible for you to succeed in your current role, and I don’t think that being the less experienced daughter of the CEO necessarily dooms you to fail.

    1. Argh!*

      >>Nepotism happens, and it’s not inherently a bad thing.

      Unless you’re the more qualified person in need of a job who gets overlooked because of a lack of connections.

      1. LabTech*

        And the race, gender, and class biases in hiring spurned by nepotism and the lack of connections for the more diverse candidates. Which are inherently bad.

        1. Temperance*

          Are you actually suggesting that affirmative action, which doesn’t work like you think it does, is somehow worse than nepotism and the Old Boy’s Club?

          1. blink*

            I think they’re saying nepotism means less diversity, which is bad. I suspect “spurned” was supposed to be “spawned.” Possibly I am too optimistic./unsolicitedparsing

            1. Liz in a Library*

              Given the second half of that sentence, I read it the way you do. I don’t think LabTech was referring to affirmative action at all, but rather saying the nepotism can sometimes lead to a problematic lack of diversity.

      2. Temperance*

        Yep. Trying to get a foot in the door when everybody else knows someone is just an awful, depressing thing to deal with.

  51. Liz L*

    I agree that OP should start looking for other jobs — not because she doesn’t deserve it but because the main factors that create this situation are not likely to change: Dad is going to remain CEO, employees will always be afraid of him, OP is on a learning curve without help/guidance. I really applaud OP for having the clarity to see things as they are and for taking the steps to pull herself together and out of whatever happened in the past. I think the next step is to loosen the reliance on family members and to find a job that will help restore a sense of confidence and teach new skills while tying in previous experiences. I know it sounds like a lot, but this is the lifelong struggle in a nutshell — we do this now or we do this later. But I’m not saying resign ASAP. Just start looking around, see what’s out there, go to a few interviews, and set up some long-term goals and strategies for eventual independence. The thing about working with family is that it never not gets personal at some point. And I don’t think it’s healthy for the OP to view herself for too long as the “nepotism hire/daughter of CEO.” She is clearly more than that, and she needs to prove this to HERSELF once and for all. And sticking around in this company just to prove that to other people isn’t the answer. OP, best of luck no matter what you decide to do!

  52. Anon ABC123*

    OP, I Agree with the others who recommended that you should look for another job as soon as possible. I worked for my parents (very small family business with mom, dad and me) one summer when I was a college student. It was really difficult and depressing since my parents would argue about everything (seemed like they argued every minute of every day). I was so happy to go back to my regular part time retail job once the summer was over!
    I have also worked at a company (about 120 employees) with many nepotism hires. They hired family members or friends of upper management and any managers for that matter. The hires were nice people who were college grads of all ages. Yet they did not have the training or knowledge to complete the basic parts of their jobs! So this made for more work for the rest of us (who were not related to anyone at the company)! We had to print reports for meetings since the VP’s son did not know how to pull/print the report, etc. I am not against hiring friends and family if they are qualified. Just please train them to do their jobs!

    1. Argh!*

      Where I work we have the problem of internal candidates almost always being hired above external ones with better qualifications. Sure, it’s encouraging to see people move up, but if it’s undeserved it might as well be nepotism. I’ve been part of a few interviews where I really want to say to the outsider “Don’t get your hopes up. An insider has it clinched.” Of course, I don’t. Fortunately the last one was some time ago. The next time I may ask if a colleague can take my place. In fact there are a couple on my level who were that insider not too long ago…. They should go in my place and smile nicely at the outsider!

  53. Argh!*

    I usually try to be kind and generous to all my coworkers, but I would have a hard time being more than minimally cooperative toward you, OP. Sorry. I agree that you should just do your best, try to earn whatever respect you can, and get out of there. Perhaps your dad has some contacts that would be useful. You’d still be riding on his coattails but it would be more anonymous.

  54. Milton Waddams*

    “I’ve tried to educate myself about the industry and the processes. I read everything I can get my hands on and ask for clarification whenever I dare. On slow days, I put on protective gear and help out on the shop floor, asking questions in the hopes of improving my work. More cold shoulder.”

    You’re on the right track — you need to gain their trust, and that means having the skills to allow it to happen. Your best bet honestly is to look for the tasks that everyone dislikes doing, and volunteer to do them — PROVIDED that you can do them without screwing up (so unpleasant but not due to the technical difficulty). That will show that a) you don’t think you’re better than everyone else just because your dad is the CEO and b) that you have some level of competency, even if you aren’t an expert. If things don’t start to thaw, I would be surprised.

    The CEO anxiety one is harder, because even though you are keenly aware that getting dad involved in everything is a Bad Idea, you can really only show yourself to be someone who doesn’t bring every little mistake to your dad if someone slips-up in front of you and you handle it in a way that doesn’t involve him. If that happens enough, eventually they’ll realize that you are aware of when something needs the CEO’s attention (with the resulting drama) and when it doesn’t.

  55. Serin*

    OP, for what it’s worth, at least you’re a good writer!

    With family like yours, though, I’m thinking Canada would be a lovely place to look for work. Unless you’re already in Canada, in which case you might try Mexico.

      1. Letter Writer*

        I appreciate that. ^__^ If I’m going to gripe, I might as well do it with style.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes OP, you are a pretty good writer.

          However, in a position like this in a manufacturing environment, what you want to produce is probably not so much technical writing as short bits of writing with lots of photos, diagrams, flow charts and bullet points. In general, handing someone in manufacturing a stack of papers with large paragraphs of text is asking them to have their eyes glaze over, read a tiny bit and ignore it.

          For some quick-ish and easy wins, if it isn’t already done:
          -Make a running list of all the acronyms you hear being used, and jargon being used, and create a running “glossary” document for new hires. You could use some kind of symbol or color code to indicate which is internal to your company vs industry wide. Just take a notepad to one of the weekly meetings you were talking about and write them all down.
          -Look up process diagrams or spaghetti charts. Can you map out the handoff of parts or paperwork from one department to another? Or can you follow an order from the time it’s initiated, made, shipped, billed, etc?

          If you are seriously twiddling your thumbs waiting for people, could you talk to the admin that was doing some of this about helping her out with some of her work, and maybe she can help you make in-roads with the people you need? Or did this job come about when the admin that used to do this stuff left?

          1. Letter Writer*

            These are all excellent suggestions, thank you very much! I’ve been scrawling down an informal glossary for myself; organizing an accessible one for, say, summer interns would be a lot more worthwhile.

            Relevant note: I was in university as an Illustration major*, with a lot of independent study in graphic/commercial design. It’s been helpful.

            By company decree, all the work I’ve been doing is in PowerPoint—the training materials I produce allow the company to check a ‘yes, our employees are trained in safety and standard procedures’ box for the federal government. Short simple text, lots of pictures. There’s a lot more technical READING than technical WRITING.

            I always check in with the admin by asking if there’s anything specific I can help with. There’s a database program people complain about a lot–my next slow-day goal is to find central HQ for it (somewhat removed from the office zone) and ask if there’s any documentation on how it works and where it tends to go wrong.

            * ‘No WONDER she couldn’t get a job!’

            I am aware of my major’s worth. CEO-Dad has no degree and his idea of career advice calcified somewhere around 1998. Writing seemed easier to learn on the side than art.

  56. harryv*


    I would recommend asking to be demoted to an entry level job. Sounds like tech writing is a job that requires a degree and prior experience. If that is the case, ask for something that a regular non degree person may do such as maintenance work or administration at the customer level. Work your way up.

  57. Letter Writer*

    Thanks for all the advice! I’ve been tearing myself apart trying to handle this on my own, but it’s hard to get any perspective when it’s just you, y’know?

    The company had been talking about hiring someone to take on this work for over a *year*. Before I showed up, it was crammed into an admin’s overstuffed schedule. I had no idea they’d finally interviewed anyone until a coworker mentioned it a couple weeks ago.

    I thought I could hack it. The admin hadn’t had any technical writing experience, either. I’ve done some odd-job office work, I keep my distance from CEO-Dad at work, we’re not close anyway, and besides, my brother works here, and everyone else likes him fine.

    Seriously, my brother’s desk is about fifteen feet from mine. Same last name, similar looks, no secret who he’s related to. Not a significant age gap. He has less schooling than I do—I got an Associate’s and made it halfway through a Bachelor’s; he quit college after one semester. Didn’t have any experience. Kind of a slacker, at least when he first started. They treat him like any other young male engineer.

    The big difference (besides being A Guy) is that when my brother came in several years ago, he got dumped out on the manufacturing floor, which is physically removed from CEO-Dad’s patrol route and had greater allowances for inexperience. My brother could learn on the job without being an obstacle for anyone else. He climbed the ranks legitimately until he earned a spot in the office. I got wedged into a neighboring cubicle because CEO-Dad thinks carbon dust is unladylike.

    At this point, I can acknowledge I’ve been set up to fail. I figured I’d stick it out for a year. Under the circumstances, I’m going to be seeking growth opportunities elsewhere as soon as financially possible. (Which may still BE a year, but it’s a more tolerable goal than ‘suffer with dignity for X more weeks.’)

    1. Purple Dragon*

      Hi Letter Writer,
      I’m sorry this is happening to you. Do you think you can ask your brothers advice on how to get the information you need ? He might be able to give you some tips on navigating your co-workers. But that does depend on your relationship with him.

      Good luck OP – I really hope things work out well, whatever you decide to do. I can relate to your situation and I know how exhausting navigating those land mines can be. Make sure you take care of you too.

      1. Letter Writer*

        We don’t talk much at work–we’re not close, and we both keep our distance from Family Stuff for obvious reasons–but I’ve asked him a couple times. He doesn’t like to get involved and he just tells me to wait and not bug anybody.

        I know I’m low priority. I’ve been waiting. I’ve read like three hundred pages of technical specifications just to try killing time productively.

        I appreciate everyone’s well wishes. It’s an unfortunate snarl of conflicting priorities and self-preservation, and I can’t really blame anyone involved (except CEO-Dad, a little bit).

  58. Ruffingit*

    This is one of the situations where I advocate leaving as soon as you can get another job. Forget staying a year for resume building because the point of staying a year is to learn things you can use to market yourself (not happening here and won’t happen here) and also not to look like a job hopper. It’s worth taking the chance of looking like a job hopper to get out of this toxic environment. Move on ASAP

  59. Sonya*

    I actually have a dissenting opinion. OP has every right to be where she is. It is her father’s company, for better or worse, and it is his decision to employ his daughter in the position he has.

    I would bet dollars to doughnuts that there are people in that company who also benefited from nepotism when they were hired, because someone knew somebody’s mother’s sister’s cousin’s dog. I also bet some of them “faked it ’til they made it” and weren’t totally proficient in everything the job called for.

    I think, from a working relationship standpoint, the existing employees ought to do the jobs they are paid for. If this includes providing the OP with anything they may need in the way of information resources, to stonewall her is insubordination, and ought to be punished in the same way as any other insubordination. Generally, one ends up getting the sack for that.

    We constantly advise OPs who have had defacto extra duties not in their job description thrust upon them under that magical catch-all: “other duties as required”, that this is the job now; do it or leave. This is, at its crux, not a dissimilar circumstance. The job has changed, so shape up or ship out. It just so happens that the hire is the CEO’s daughter.

    It has been made clear that OP is in this position, like it or not, and they’d better wise up to that fact. They are going to navigate working with people they don’t like many times long after OP ups stumps. This will be character-building for everyone, the OP included.

    We know that they can deal with this kind of circumstance because they already work with someone they don’t like: her father. Yet, somehow, they find the wherewithal to suck it up and drag themselves into work every day. Probably because it is still damned tough out there in this economy and they are a pragmatic bunch.

    I think they ought to rustle up a bit more of that pragmatism and work with OP like they’d work with anyone else. Because, let me tell you, she can make their lives pretty miserable, but so far she hasn’t (and I don’t think she would). She’s clearly not establishing a reign of terror. I’m not sure I could say the same. These employees would be working with me, or they’d be working at a different company. Very simple.

  60. Kera*

    OP, since it seems you’re going to be stuck here for another 6-9 months, it sounds like you could use some tips and tricks for making the whole thing less grindingly awful as without some miracle (maybe your dad could be visited by the ghost of xmas future?), you know this isn’t a long-term option. I presume you’re already googling all the tech writer courses and forums google can provide, and in the meantime, it’s just a case of keeping your head down and your eyes open for escape routes.

    So though I’m not a technical writer, I work with writers of all stripes and one of the key lessons for me was that in order to get responses out of busy, unresponsive people – don’t overload them with options. It’s much easier for people to answer an a/b question (frequently with ‘c’), than offering everything from a-z in an effort to be nice and accommodating. It takes more executive function that they can’t spare you (and possibly resent being asked for) to go through all the options, think about which suits, what might clash, whether the guy next to them is annoying them by humming all the time, what’s for lunch….. and then your request is at the bottom of the pile and will stay there for 3+ months. Whereas “Hi Jameel, I need to check the teapot handle specification workflow with you – can you give me 10 minutes after tomorrow’s all hands meeting?” gets you a yes/no, a convenient location, a schedule and an agenda. Stick to all, and develop a reputation of being easy to work with.
    I also happily doorstop authors of mine who are being slow to respond “Stan! Good to see you – I was just talking to Andy about spout dynamics. You and I were going to catch up on the new anti-drip coatings this week – let’s grab a coffee and do it now”. It being harder to ignore your requests when you’re stood in front of them ready to go. It’s really dependent on dynamics, and I suspect a lot of tech writers would wince at it as a tactic , but when up against deadlines and walls, it works well enough.

    Good luck! You seem really self aware, resilient and a skilled writer. I hope you recover and get to keep going :D

  61. Anonomous*

    I really think that you have to options here. One. Keep trying to make your coworkers work with you. Two. Become the absolute bitch that they think you are. I would start documenting everything. And yes, bring those documents to your dad. Once everybody sees that you start getting one after another fired, they’ll come around. No, they won’t like you. But goddamnit, they will respect you.

  62. John*

    Not sure if this has already been mentioned but if true OP might want to mention that there is a corporate succession angle here. If Dad owns a lot of shares and there are other outside investors, the BOD might be forcing/encouraging dad to develop a plan for those shares post his passing. Having your kid especially one that seems to have lost their way develop detailed corporate knowledge sounds a lot like business contigency planning to me

  63. ClareP*

    OP, may I congratulate you on your clear vision and lack of resentment. You have overcome enormous obstacles without self-pity and achieved clarity and professionalism. Throwing my two pennorth in, I’d agree that you need to get another job asap. How good is it ever going to be; and this situation will drain your motivation and self-esteem relentlessly. Put yourself first and give yourself credit for what you’ve already achieved

  64. Robert Johnson*

    Try being the Chairman of the Boards Son? I walk around on egg shells all day in a huge company. I could have the greatest idea ever and it would be shot down so fast or caught up in red tape. Sometimes I feel its best just to put ideas out there put it in peoples heads until they believe they came up with it. OP I feel ya.

  65. Stand up for yourself -it might take years to learn how*

    So, how’d it turn out for you? Did you leave, get everyone to make nice, or institute a reign of terror?
    I’m with Sonya. This is your dad’s company. He chooses who works there. Many people enter business with the specific intent of passing it down to their family. Employees should act professionally or be fired. They aren’t being paid to hold a grudge over class dynamics. You have an advantage. Use it. People will not be nice to you or help you, don’t let them push you out. This is your job until you decide it’s not. As a woman, you are weak or a b****. Take your pick. Sometimes you need to demand respect, and being doormat nice won’t cut it. That being said, be kind whenever possible, work hard to someday earn respect, and constantly improve your skills and abilities. Develop your communication skills in the ways people mentioned above. Know that these hypocrites would almost surely take advantage of a good job opportunity offered by a family member, if they haven’t already.

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