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Author pamkir
#1 | Posted: 10 Dec 2007 10:56 
I'm supervising an outstanding CSR (I'll call her Jane) in my team of four within a smooth running Customer Service Dept. She is more strong voiced and strong willed than the others, but all are very good and knowledgeable. Jane wants to be a team member but feels she is "out of the loop" with the rest. Where the others are social and easygoing, Jane only wants to display her professional side with no socializing. ..eats her lunch in her car alone. Paranoid that questions & general daily communications back & forth are not spoken for all to hear, thus leaving her out or targeting her. Feels she's always on the defensive. Admittedly has a chip on her shoulder because the girls did not call her when she was sick (even though they asked & rec'd daily reports). Within the last two years, Jane has had serious health problems, abandoned by her husband, son problems, had to sell her home, etc. We have all shown concern but that was not good enough.

I'm trying to deal with just the business side but see overlapping issues with the rest of her life. Pounding of the keyboard and snappy voice tells us of bad moods. She disagrees with it all. Everything out of her mouth is negative as to equal treatment. Believes we're all out to get her. I've actually been assigning her advanced duties because she is very good. I'm looking for ways to handle this. She can't see daylight. Any suggestions.

Author KarenSB
#2 | Posted: 11 Dec 2007 06:00 
Does your organization's medical plan include an Employee Assistance Program, and if so, have you suggested that she use it?

Health problems, abandonment, dysfunction and forced to move. Hard for anyone to stay emotionally balanced.

Author ayaree
#3 | Posted: 11 Dec 2007 21:23 
Pamkir, I've never forgotten a place where I once worked (until I had to be transferred). It was a small office, with a warehouse in the back, where machines printed and inserted materials and where materials were stored on tall racks. I thought of it as a pretty dismal place and in a dismal location, to boot. But I loved it, mostly. And there was a corner in the warehouse (of all places) where employees were allowed to smoke. I worked in one of the crammed office parts, but when I took breaks and it was raining or snowing, I went back there and smoked. And they had a sign that said something like THIS IS YOUR SECOND HOME, KEEP IT TIDY.

Reading that sign and digesting it (like I did) was probably the first step for me when it comes to understanding how life and work come together, or need to stay apart. The sign smacks of "talking to children" instead of grown-ups and (my goodness) people that had gone through a university education. But I also think the sign talks to people, and people are ALWAYS children at least to a tiny degree if not a huge one, and they always carry their child selves everywhere they go, including their second home, work.

This Jane Do you are describing has been with your organization for at least 2 years--definitely her second home. And definitely a place where she can bring home into work, and all the child things (not "childish") with her. The workplace she shares with you and the team is not a place to have an open-book case study on her life experiences; it's not a nursing home, it's a business. It's her second home, and one to keep TIDY.

I definitely echo Karen's remark about an EAP, and where there is one lacking, she needs a person skilled in human interactions to explain to her that her personal challenges are not subjects that should stir any energies at all at work, as these are not good for the team at large. Personal dissatisfaction at the specifics around her teammates communicating with her during her absence are not open for further analysis, as her teammates are being relied upon to provide work for the business and not create a work exercise based on her personal business, all while they have shared a concern in her best health.

I do think providing her with "something different" is the right approach, as this is mind-activating and lends inspiration, but I would have a hard time defending this instinct to someone in the most senior position that would question why something of an "upgraded" nature has been placed in the hands of someone who is dealing with personal difficulties. (In the very end, that voice is interested in the health of the organization, whether the individual is eclipsed by it or not.) Work is not done when the project at hand is someone's below-standard husband or their rotten family or their bad health or their bad luck with their automobile. These things cannot be the "project" for your team, and they cannot abide by the TIDY workplace sign. And frankly, EAPs cannot abide by it either, because they do not operate on site--so intervention by HR or people skilled and in that capacity need to inject themselves in the situation.

My heart goes out to the person, but there are critical cases where the PERSONAL needs to be removed from what can become a "project" and Jane's issues are not a team project. If they already are, that needs to stop.

Author tdlcustomerservice
#4 | Posted: 22 Jan 2008 10:43 
Your message is about a month old now and perhaps you have come up with a resolution. EAP is a wonderful thing we can provide for our staff. I have had many of my own staff utilise it. I also do quarterly one on one meetings with my team. An opportunity for them to bring forward ideas, issues and concerns. In the beginning alot of issues and concerns came forward. As time went on, the direction changed where they didn't have any real big issues anymore, they just wanted someone to talk with. Sometimes, if someone will listen and show they care, it will help the person in need.

Author hichriso
#5 | Posted: 24 Jan 2008 08:58 
You "HAVE TO" read the book

Revved!: An Incredible Way to Rev Up Your Workplace and Achieve Amazing Results. by Harry Paul (Author), Ross Reck (Author)

The character in the book is EXACTLY going through what you are talking about

Author pamkir
#6 | Posted: 28 Jan 2008 12:08 
Thank all contributors for their valuable replies. It's been about six weeks since my initial posting. I have not had my "sit-down" with this employee but feel it is imminent. The situation is simmering now and not boiling, but it does not require much to get going again.

Author KarenSB
#7 | Posted: 31 Jan 2008 14:26 
For what it's worth, not addressing the problem might be causing you more hardship than you are currently aware. The rest of the team may be feeling more and more resentful of you as each 'unaddressed' day goes by. Eventually, I would dare to say, the other team members are going to get the subliminal message that is being sent, i.e., this is acceptable behavior.

Negativity, pounding the keyboard, snappy voice (attitude)...all of this DOES deal directly "with the business side."

Being in charge isn't always pleasant. We have to deal with the unpleasantness, and we have to do it professionally and in a timely manner.
After all, it is in the best interest of the organization, of our employees, of our customers, and of our own personally.

Wishing you the best,

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