Not Your Mommy

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I’m the operations manager in the video gaming industry, which
attracts many very young employees. Since I’m north of 50, I find that
there’s often a mother-child overlay to the business reporting
relationship. I find it intensely annoying. Any leftover baggage they
have with their mother (or step-mother, aunt, or even first-grade
teacher) gets dumped on me. Freud would have a field day with the
crap I put up with every week. Short of saying “tell me about your
mother” at the start of the job interview, can you give me some advice
for handling this?
Not Your Mommy

Dear Not Your Mommy:
I imagine that in addition to being annoying to you, this problem also
interferes with productivity and teamwork. I’m imagining a clutch of
earnest siblings all vying for mommy’s attention and approval,
engaged in a chronic (albeit subliminal) guerilla war with the ones
who’re trying to get even for childhood injustices imposed or imagined.
One piece of good news to the higher turnover in your industry: the
dross sheds itself faster, though that doesn’t lessen the pain while
they’re in your face and your space.

Given that you cannot ask about age, marital status, children, and
other more superficial variables during an interview, I’m assuming
your specific question is facetious. But its underlying intent is not. You
can and should ask any or all of the following questions, and listen
carefully both for what’s said and what isn’t: How do you deal with
authority figures? What form of feedback motivates you? What form of
correction brings out the worst in you? How do you get along with your
colleagues? How do you deal with scarce resources, whether that’s
actual materiel, or my time and attention? Do you prefer being given
instructions and then left to be self-managing, or do you like a
supervisor who checks in regularly or often? What are your habits to
keep your workspace clean and tidy? What would a close friend or
even your mother say are your best and worst qualities? That last
one’s a slider, but by the time you’ve run through the others most
candidates will already have self-selected themselves in or out, and their                    resistance will be worn down to truth telling.


Most important:
Trust your gut; do performance reviews early and often; be honest
about what bugs you; ask them to change. Remember: you’re the