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Disruptive Employees


Question: "An employee is creating morale problems in the office by constantly complaining about anything and everything. She complains about too much time entering data on the system, other employees work hours and habits and things that I say or do that she perceives as unfair. The problem is that she is nice to my face but she's driving the rest of the staff crazy. This group is in an adjacent building because of space constraints and I cannot be there to observe her. What should I do?

Answer(s): One strategy is direct confrontation. Set up a confidential meeting with this person. For example, "We need to talk. I have been getting a lot of negative feedback about how unhappy you are. Is there something you need to talk about? How can I help? Then wait! Sit there silently, attentively and let her talk next. If she denies, gently contradict, if she attacks answer the concepts and ignore the anger.

End the encounter with clear descriptions of where diversity stops and that creating a hostile workplace for her coworkers, including you, must stop. Expectations of future behavior should be clear. Document it all.

Establish written Policies and Procedures for reprimanding employees (e.g., three verbal warnings and three written warnings are terms for termination). Every employee should sign a copy of the policies and procedures when hired.

Another strategy it to "Take away her audience." Enlist the help of the other employees to back up your policies, not listen to her complaints and to walk away when possible. Once her audience is gone, she will be too.

 A more formal, team approach would work as follows:

  1. Initiate a Team meeting with the principal individual.

  2. Each Team Member shares concerns with this person.

  3. This person has an opportunity to respond to the Team.

  4. A plan of corrective action is agreed upon.

  5. A follow-up Team meeting is held to discuss outcomes/implications.


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