Coworker Gets Commission Unfairly

Question:

I work for my boyfriend and he has two businesses that connect with double doors. His employee is a guy that makes commission on his side of the store, but I sell furniture on the other side. The coworker makes almost double what I do each week just in regular pay, plus he makes commission on what he sells on his side.

Every chance he gets, if someone comes in on his side and asks about furniture, he brings them over and tries to sell them, because commission is given out every Monday. The right thing to do is guide the customer to me and politely say, This woman can help you.” I don’t come to his side and interfere with his sales! My boyfriend says that he is just trying to help, but I explained to him that this employee makes more weekly than I do, and I work hard doing inventory, cleaning, pricing and arranging weekly. It’s not right that he can walk over and take my sales.

My boyfriend also suggested that if he does it again, that I say to him ” I got this ” while he is talking to a customer. I find that to be rude, but it’s rude as well what my coworker is doing to me.

I’m the kind of person who doesn’t really like conflict but I work hard just because my boyfriend own’s the place. I don’t like sitting around doing nothing. Otherwise, why even work? Do you have any suggestions?

Signed,

Being Cut Out Of Money


Answer:

Dear Being Cut Out Of Money:

Look at this without the relationship factor between you and your boyfriend/boss. If you were working anywhere else you would probably be looking for another job right now! You write as though the problem is your coworker, but it seems the problem is primarily with your boss, and that is where you need to look for a solution.

Think about it: Your boss knows where the sales come from, but he continues to give your coworker commissions for sales on your side of the store. Your boss knows you do a lot of extra work, but he pays the other employee more and also allows him to come to your side of the store to make sales. When you express concern he makes excuses, then requires YOU to deal with it, rather than him helping you.

Those are not the actions of a good business person, a good employer, a friend or a boyfriend! The only possible explanation is that your boyfriend thinks you are willing to volunteer your time and efforts as part of your relationship, but he also knows he can’t get other employees to be that sacrificing, so he has to offer them more.

Consider these responses:

1. Do not try to resolve this with a customer there! It will make you look in the wrong and create animosity. It could also hurt your sales if customers resent what you do, not knowing why you are doing it.

I can’t even imagine a good businessperson suggesting such a solution. You are right about it and your boss is not.

2. Ask for a meeting between the three of you. You may already have meetings of that nature. Maybe you can simply meet over a cup of coffee or gather by the coffee machine. Put the responsibility on your boss by saying, “Todd, I would like to have it clarified what the policy is about who sells and who gets commissions on sales from one side of the store to the other. Could you clarify how the sales referral and commission process works?”

He knows very well what you are asking about, so if he hesitates to say that you should get the sales on your side of the store, you’ll know that he has given approval for the current situation. 3. If your coworker interjects a comment or argues about it, just keep your focus on your boss and politely insist on an answer.

It may be your coworker thinks he’s been approved to behave as he does. If you have talked to him about it directly, he may think you are wrong–especially if he has been given assurance by the boss that his actions are OK.

4. If you can’t get it worked out that way, you may need to tell your boyfriend that to keep the relationship you will need to work at another store or develop a written contract for what happens at this store.

He could never get another person to agree to the arrangement you’ve come to accept as normal, and I’m sure he knows it!

Sometimes positive, up-beat, happy people, want to help so much that they are used by others, even by those who should feel more loyalty. But a real friend would not take advantage of someone’s helpfulness and consideration. I hope you will both clarify the money situation and clarify the relationship as well.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.