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Enduring the hardships of a difficult co-worker.
Enduring the hardships of a difficult co-worker.
03/04/11 at 11:08 PM by Kid Amnesiac
I was recently proposed a question regarding what I would do in a make-believe situation where I was presented with having an over-controlling, backstabbing employee that did not only what she was asked to accomplish, but as much as me, her boss in this situation. A lot of what Doris, does in this situation hit home for me as it is a lot of what an employee I manage at my work does. Doris displays behavior including: talking behind her boss’s back (keep in mind, I’m her boss) and taking control of the department by doing things her position is not solicited to do. This behavior and her seniority puts her on a pedestal with all of her co-workers, whom are people under me. I penned an essay regarding this make-believe situation and tied it to my real life turmoil. As Daemon of IGN would say, “Please to enjoy”:
I feel like this whole situation is somewhat of a déjà vu to me. At the moment, as I have said in the discussion and multiple other areas, I am working with an abortion of an employee. I am his boss and he does not treat me so. He does a lot of what Doris does. He acts as though he is your best friend to your face and then talks behind your back. The guy is a wonderful grunt, meaning he’ll do all the physical labor, no problem. This is helpful, but hardly worth it. Because of his fakeness, he really is an ugly person inside and out. The bottom line is he does not respect authority and views himself as “the only person who does anything” at the store. I know this because of my loyal customer base. The same people that he complains to I have known for close to four years. This employee is a bad person because he not only feels he is the only person working hard, bad mouths other employees to customers, but he also steals. My Kum and Go primarily consists of two shifts a week where more than one person is on the clock. That shift is the truck shift on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Through out working with him on these shifts, I have come across him stealing multiple times. This is a huge deficit to the store! And the audits are there to prove it! I couldn’t and didn’t want to believe my eyes the last time this occurred, so, I acted as though something had to be done in the bathrooms. When he caught on and went back there to check I took a video with my phone showing that the bag of beef jerky was in his “lunch bag”. I took it farther by quickly going through our recent receipts to make sure that it was 100% sure that this product was not purchased. Success! I sent my manager the video via text message. It was after 8pm, so she was asleep. But the next day she said that she reviewed the daily transactions and there was absolutely none sold that day! I thought I finally had quelled this abortion of an employee. Nope. She said this wasn’t substantial evidence. What is her problem? I have been with this location longer than her and I have worked with her for almost four years.
I couldn’t grasp her reasoning. At least until I decided that this was a bigger deal than she was making it out to be and bypassed her and went to her supervisor. I showed him the video and explained that he was a cancer to the store because of the way he talks about people behind their back and so fourth. He told me I was 100% correct and we needed to get rid of him. I was ecstatic! Then he explained where my manager was coming from and it sort of opened my eyes a bit. Employee turnover is very inefficient and costly. The fact that he is stealing (hopefully) minimal amounts of product a week is no where near the predicted cost of hiring somebody. Figuring in all the work that has to be done in training, putting them in the system, employee screw-ups and the risk the new employee brings to the store, a new employee can cost the company upwards of $2500. This is a huge cost! So, dealing with his moderate theft and poor workplace ethics are something that we are willing to deal with for now. Now he left me with another notion: I need to try and nudge my manager towards finding him a replacement. I am and have been for the most part, she agrees and has been looking over the last couple days.
This is closely related to the problem that “we” have with Doris. Although, there is one over-arching difference.: my terrible, controlling employee doesn’t have seniority or a strong work ethic, like Doris. I think that I would deal with what Doris is doing. But there is something that I would start to do and that is put all I have in the company by paying attention to what she is doing and how she is doing it. This way we have two minds in the department that can do “everything” and eventually I feel she would start to respect me more and we could join forces. Sure, I am sentenced to meetings all day, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t learn a thing or two here and there. And eventually, with my character displayed to Doris and burning passion for the company, I think she would take me under her wing.
I would most definitely not fire her. Everyone likes her and respects her. The only problem I have with her personality is that she feels that she can talk behind my back. That is not okay, but it is something that I would be okay with dealing with because of the asset she is to the company. If my employee did everything that she does, I would most definitely find it hard to fire him. But he doesn’t and never will be to that point. Once again, my situation is close to the Doris situation except for this main factor.
Back to my approach to this problem, I would start to bond and get to know the people I work with. People like a person that is extremely committed to the same effort as them and I think that if everyone starts to respect and like me that the word around the office would be that I actually a great guy. This will also help the development of my relationship with Doris.
The best thing here is to basically establish yourself as a person that is just as, if not more, committed to the company as Doris. She volunteers to do work that over and above her call of duty and that is exactly what I should be doing to gain the respect of others and her.
I turned to a couple sites to get some more information on this difficult situation. One site I visited was PeterVarhol.com. This site did a wonderful job essaying the way to go about the problem. I applied one of his points to the Doris situation and the Doris situation. PeterVarhol.com asked the question: “What specific behavior is causing the problem?” His answer to this is that we need to access the situation and generate a plan according to how bad the situation actually is. This is helpful and I feel it is exactly what my supervisor did to come to the answer he did with me. We have to weigh our options and decide whether or not this is a situation where we can cut ties with the employee. Obviously, Doris is a hassle; almost more of a hassle than good, to be exact. But in all actuality, she is far from a shortfall of the company. She has a lot to offer, along with her big mouth. My employee on the other hand is poor with his relations with customers, fellow employees and doesn’t know how to do the bookwork or work the register well. He is a deficit to the store and will be replaced in due time. The site also points out a lot of what I have tried to do to better my relationship with this employee. One thing he points out is that we need to talk with with the person. Yes, I agree, and I have. He pretty much nods and says he will change his work ethic and doesn’t. Another point is that I should talk to my manager, which I have. I feel like this is a great article that I really has a lot of ways to deal with a co-worker. Many of which I have already done and to no avail. When it comes to Doris, I am the manager of this department, so talking to my manager wouldn’t do a whole lot. I could and it would be a lot easier if I was close to the manager. I think that there are always exceptions when it comes to the requirements of a job and talking to my manager may actually get her promoted! This is something that would work out well, actually. Because the void she would feel if I told her to stop doing things out of her duty would no longer be something she would have to work about. And she would definitely respect me and look out for me in the future. There is no way that if someone is qualified for the job in every way except for their education that they would be turned away. I have personally seen it happen in the journalism industry. Now if they did have a problem with it, I would advise her tactfully to get that education because she really knows what she’s talking about. If done correctly, this may further our relationship.
I read what About.com had to say. They didn’t attack the situation anywhere near as well as the Peter Varhol site, but they did raise one point I haven’t explored. And that is “Look for a new job”. I feel as though it is a petty way to “solve” the problem, but she may be rooted too deeply in the company to fire or deal with, leaving with this as a last resort. The site also brought up the point of just dealing with it. I feel as though, through out her entire career at the company too many of her bosses were push-over’s. This is the origin of her behavior and how she manifested the need to be in control of the department. All of her previous employers were okay with letting it slide, why shouldn’t I? If an employee is willing to go above and beyond what they ask for and not ask for a promotion or raise, why should I consider that a problem? It’s a great thing for the company and instead of concentrating on ways to undermine her ways, I think my energy would be the most useful concentrating on working with her or just venturing into other aspects of the department that need tailoring.
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