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The Pain of Working With a Screamer

Recently we have been dealing with a couple of screamers from the same company. I do find screamers a deeply depressing phenomenon. Both have either failed or refused to meet company standards and the company (which could have invoked the formal disciplinary procedure) decided to talk to them informally. And in both instances they have gone off sick with “work-related stress”.

One has let it be known via her solicitor that she will leave for a substantial sum of money, a reference and payment of her legal fees. Dream on!

I have said many times before that most employers let this sort of thing go on far too long. There are all sorts of reasons for it and here are the top five.

  • It’s a small team and the manager doesn’t want to upset other team members.
  • The employee has expert knowledge and the manager fears he won’t be able to replace the transgressing easily and/ or quickly.
  • The manager doesn’t have enough time to address the problem.
  • The manager fears conflict.
  • The manager hopes it’s a glitch and will resolve by itself.

Employees who blame everyone else for their mess ups are a pain. In this case one of the employees refused to pp a letter and send out a letter on behalf of her manager, who was out of the office for a few days. It’s a minor misconduct matter, yet when we said we wanted to talk to her about it (remember we proposed to discuss things informally),she stormed out of the office and the next thing was the medical note saying workplace stress. Incredible. How does she think she’s going to get away with behaviour like that?

Prevention is better than cure, so try not to recruit a problem (that means having a rigorous recruitment process and taking up references).

Set your workplace standards at an early stage. Explain what it means in precise and measureable terms so that employees have a clear understanding of what success looks like. If you’re anything like me you assume that people want to do the right thing. Most people do, but there are many exceptions so monitor and correct. But in the end if the employee doesn’t meet and maintain your standards, take action early. This may result in dismissal or an extended probation. If you’ve done what you can to help them meet your standards and they can’t or won’t it’s time to move on. Don’t carry passengers. It’s just not worth it.

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