Dear Aunty B,
My partner and I have a small company of six people (us included).
We have one staff member who, in regards to her job, is a total asset to the business, both in her skills and what she achieves.
But her personality is draining, and she has a very negative effect on office moral. She is manipulative, divisive and uses emotional blackmail. Her personal problems constantly spill into the office environment, and at a moment’s notice she can get up and walk out and not come back for the rest of the day.
She has two distinct sides to her personality. The side we saw in the interview process and the side you don’t want to meet. A lot of people have told us to get rid of her, because of how she interacts in the office, and even the mind games she has tried to play with us. But I always try to separate the two sides by saying it’s the office, so it’s business, therefore the effect she has on business is good – but on a personal level, she creates friction.
What do you think?
Sybil has to go. And you, Mark, need to have a look at your managing skills.
It is totally unacceptable for someone to walk out and not come back for the rest of the day. Sybil should have been warned the first time she did it that she would be docked for the hours she did not work and given an official warning if she ever did it again. She then should have been given options and suggestions to help her deal with her frustration or anger in a constructive way.
The mistake you are making is to separate the personal from business. You can’t. They are one and the same.
You say yourself she is having a very negative effect on office morale. This directly affects your business and your poor long-suffering staff, particularly as you are such a small team! (I assume you keep Sybil locked away from your suppliers and customers…)
Mark, the good news is once you take the plunge and move Sybil on, I am sure you will feel enormous relief and wonder why you didn’t do it before.
So first decide in your own mind that she is going to be sacked if her behaviour does not change. Then call her in and tell her how her behaviour is affecting the office. Give her specific examples. Tell her that it is no longer acceptable. Offer her some assistance or training to change and then tell her you are giving her an official warning. Set a date for a review meeting in a week.
Given her personality, it is likely she will resign. Hopefully you could organise a nice farewell for her, thanking her for the contribution she has made to the company.
And one last suggestion. I think you might need a little help. You are easily manipulated and obviously used to putting up with dysfunctional people. I wonder if you lived with a highly manipulative person in your early years and you got used to it?
Stay strong Mark, and good luck!
Your Aunty B