Business Agony Aunt

Ask Ronke Lawal: How Do I Deal With Employees That Disrespect My Personal Life?


Chairs in rows, facing one chair for a presenter


Miss E asks;
I have two salons in two locations and I have about 20 employees. We have all been working together well until I employed an old friend to supervise one of the branches. She was in dire need of a job and begged me for weeks to give her the job. Few weeks into the job I walked in on her telling my employees intimate details about my private life, I have had troubles in my life but I have been able to rise above them to build something for myself. I confronted her but she apologised and said she didn’t mean to hurt me. But I think she still does it when I am not there because my employees now disrespect me and gossip about me at every chance they get. I have never had to deal with this kind of situation before and I just don’t know what to do.


ronkeRonke Lawal answers;
Fire her. Dismiss her. Sack her. Let her go. Are there any other ways in which I can make this statement clearer? How unprofessional and inappropriate of your friend to take your generosity for granted. This is why business and friendship are difficult to combine successfully – when it works it can be fantastic but when it doesn’t it can be soul-destroying (read my recent blog on The Business of Friendship here:

In the same way that your friend took the initiative to ask you for a job you now need to take the initiative to regain your power. You trusted her enough to give her a supervisory role in your thriving business and yet she still took the opportunity to undermine you to your employees.  The question we have to ask therefore is why? Why would a friend who was so eager to ask for help do this to you? Why would she begin to corrupt and destroy the amicable environment that you have worked so hard to develop with your employees for so long?

As I do not know her I cannot answer this question directly in relation to her but I can answer it in relation to certain facets of humanity. Some people can be selfish, envious and mean-spirited. Where does this stem from? It stems from fear and pain and though it is easy to feel angry at them it is more empowering to release them from our circle, forgive them and move on. So I ask that you release her from her role in your salon, forgive her for her mistakes (make it clear that you have forgiven her) and move on through clear dialogue with your employees.

If any of your employees have changed in direct correlation to what you now know about her gossiping and bad mouthing you then a written warning needs to be provided regarding inappropriate behaviour. If this insubordination continues then it is up to you as the leader of your growing business to take action. The key word here is LEADER. Become a confident leader and you will regain power in your business.

Unfortunately your kindness has been taken for granted by one person who did not deserve it.  That is not to say that you should not be kind, in fact continue to be the giving and generous person that you are…it is because of your giving nature that you have received so many blessings in your life and in your business. Just be wise, be strong and be confident.  Do not allow this individual’s actions upset you or change you for the worse, instead use this experience to become stronger.


Company founder Ronke Lawal was born in Hackney, East London of Nigerian parentage. Having graduated with honours from Lancaster University and the University of Richmond Virginia (USA) with a degree in International Business (Economics), she started her own business in 2004. In 2011 Ronke Lawal was honoured to receive a Precious Award for Inspirational Leadership. In January 2010, Ronke became the Chief Executive of the Islington Chamber of Commerce where she remained until the end of 2012 and became a non-executive director of The Hoxton Apprentice in 2011. She joined the board of Trustees of Voluntary Action Islington in 2012 and is currently on The Employers Panel for the National Employment Savings Trust.  She is a passionate business woman running RSL Management Services and the Simone Williams fashion label.  Apart from her active and involved business interests, her varied passions outside the business world include food, travel, music, literature and most importantly living a life she loves.




    Zara Chiron

    August 26, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Wow, what an unfortunate situation 🙁
    I feel hurt for this lady.

    It is true that mixing one’s professional and personal lives is often a complicated line to walk. I still feel that the situation can be salvaged and as you say, she can regain her power!

    And indeed, more power t her, any woman who can create a successful enterprise can easily manage the damage done by a disloyal friend.

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