Staff Member Misbehaving

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about difficult employee: calling me, her manager, a cheeky bitch! She has now been off sick for one week. In this time, I have discovered she has been going in late and leaving early, but clocking in her full hour

A staff member was late for work. She texted me when she got to work. To which I replied, “You’re supposed to start at 8:50. She then sent another text (which was supposed to go to someone else calling me, her manager, a cheeky bitch! She has now been off sick for one week. In this time, I have discovered she has been going in late and leaving early, but clocking in her full hours that she has been paid for! Where do we stand? Now none of the other staff want to work with her!


Dear Her Boss:

Reporting time not worked as time worked is serious and you need to have hard data for this before you voice such an accusation. Prepare a list of what you discovered about Janet (a name I have given her): misstated hours worked and other offenses such as name-calling of you, her manager. In light of her recent late coming to work, check to learn at what time she clock in at. And print out the text in which she called you a “cheeky bitch.” Add to this her one week time off for sickness and the “we don’t want to work with her” data that you accumulated from other staff.

And you now have reason to have a one-on-one counseling session with Janet. Apparently providing feedback to those you manage is not something about which you are comfortable. Therefore would it not be wise to consult with your Human Resources steps of discipline and/or your own boss about how you should handle this matter with Janet?

Probably you have a progressive discipline policy, and you have more than enough reason to discuss her performance. An agenda for such a session probably might be phrased as questions, such as: How happy are you with your job and how well would you assess your performance? Do you ever report time worked for when you arrived late and left early? Do you refer to me with such words as bitch? Are you a team player? How does your job here fit in with your career goals? This last question signals you are there to help her job be more than just a job.

Inform her that as her manager it is your responsibility to monitor her performance more closely. Each of these questions should prompt a response from Janet and an opportunity for you to spell out what you expect from her. You need not share what you have collected because some of that data is not hard and given you in confidence, but in light of what evolves in response to these questions, you can decide whether to give her a verbal warning. And if you decide one should be given. Do so. Also schedule a follow up session with her in three to four weeks. That might entail frequent informal conversations with her about assignments. Advice given from a distance might not apply to your particular workplace; therefore, don’t allow what I’ve suggested to be more than matter that should be considered and adapted to your work culture. Most of all don’t avoid and ignore poor performance by Janet or others.

As manager it is your job to coach and correct and to create structure and to inspire. Many of our Q&As posted in our Archive speak to how to deal with problem employees and how to motivate teamwork. Clear, accurate and frequent collaboration make a big difference. Scan them and feel free to update us on what you do. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. By that I mean you can do what it takes to help Janet and your staff to work productively as a team.

William Gorden