Question: I recently hired an employee who appears to be a high-strung basket case. "Shannon" is experienced and intelligent, but working with her is almost unbearably exhausting. Every phone call lasts at least an hour, and most of our face-to-face meetings end in tears. Her lengthy emails are all marked "Urgent!"
With Shannon, every little thing becomes a major deal. She emailed me repeatedly for two days about the exact wording on her business cards. Shannon can perform well when she's focused, so I know she has potential. But her office-mate is ready to drive off a bridge just to get some peace. What should I do about this?
Answer: The key question is whether Shannon can control this excessive emotionality. If not, then retaining her would be unfair to both her co-workers and the business. When a chronically disruptive employee wreaks havoc on morale and productivity, the only responsible choice is to let that person go.
If Shannon is currently in a new-hire probationary status, you will need to make this decision quickly. Give her a chance to improve by providing clear expectations and frequent feedback. Focus only on work-related issues and avoid the temptation to critique her personality. To circumvent legal land mines, consult your human resources manager or labor attorney.
If Shannon is able to consistently demonstrate self-control, perhaps she can achieve the potential you see in her. But if her unrestrained emotional needs continue to be a drain and a distraction, then you should end her employment during the probationary period. Otherwise, you may be living with this problem for a long, long time.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach. Send in questions and get free coaching tips at www.yourofficecoach.com.