Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Crazy Employees

To run a successful business, we need not only a good business plan but dependable top-notch employees. Too often we hear stories of staff who show up late and leave early, or employees who are always bickering and gossiping about each other. There are also stories of those workers who simply don't take direction or are needy in some way. As irritating as these scenarios are, probably the most frightening are those where fellow employees or managers feel threatened by a staff member who's lost complete emotional control. Not sure what I'm talking about? Check out this youtube video where an employee goes crazy in the office.

As managers or bosses, we must be vigilant in our hiring process, using all the tools available to us. Times are different and the available resources expand to match the needs of our society. Background checks and employee screening aren't just extras beyond the interview, but rather they are crucial components in the hiring process. We now also have psychological and behavioral assessments available to us. While we can't predict employee behavior in all situations, we are able to shine a light on personality traits and how they may handle stress. No one knows when and if a person will snap, but we can start with all the preventative tools available to us. Say an employee does crack as in the video, what do we do? In these stressful times, we also need to educate ourselves on how to deal with such a situation. We can retaliate, become defensive and even confused. That's the most likely reaction but probably not the smartest. This is the time where we need to prepare ourselves to exert self-control and even some assertiveness. So what are some specifics?

  • Remain calm while acknowledging the employee's anger. Be supportive and listen calmly, not becoming angry yourself. Let them speak and vent before you answer. Don't behave anxiously or antagonistically but rather concerned. This can be done through body language and tone of voice and will diffuse the explosive situation.

  • Change the environment. You want the atmosphere to be as non-threatening as possible so move to somewhere private where the employee can sit down, relax somewhat and share his grievances.

  • Discover the problem and find solutions. When the employee has calmed down, you need to seek out the real problem that's ignited this outburst. So ask questions, focusing on data rather than emotions. Be objective and see if it's time to find a solution. A reasonable person will have hopefully calmed down at this point, if not other measures would have to be taken.

Our world is fast-paced. Expectations and demands are increasing and with that comes stress. Hand in hand with stress are explosive situations. We need to educate both ourselves and our employees on how to handle stress, finding healthy outlets to alleviate today's pressures.

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