Problem Employees: How to Recognize the Personalities

HR wears many hats, one of which is smoothing out the "people problems" that arise in any company. Whether it is advising managers on how to coach difficult employees or dealing with them directly. This post is about some of the common employee problems you may encounter.

Light-Fingered Laura: Laura can be found all over the company. Even the most honest employees don't think about occasionally taking home office supplies. It doesn't obviously have a negative consequence, but those small thefts can add up to big losses.

Cigarette Sam: If you can't find Sam at his desk, you'll find him outside taking a smoke break. Its rare to find him only smoking on his State-mandated breaks, and that extra time can eat into the work day. Not to mention how other, non-smoking, employees feel about missing out on all that free time.

Complaint-writing Cindy: Cindy spends a lot of time documenting her complaints. In fact, it seems like it's actually starting to eat into her workday and prevent her from working a full shift.

The Battling Bobs: Bob and Bob just can't seem to get along. Their personalities just don't mix, and it's a combustible combination. Any time they are put together on a team, its goes badly.

Musical Maria: Maria loves her music, and swears she is a much more productive (and happier) employee when she can listen to her iPod while working. She wears earplugs, so she doesn't bother anyone, but that also means she doesn't her hear phone, or people trying to talk to her.

Poor Attitude Paul: Paul has been a mainstay of the company for years, starting in the mail room and working his way up into management. He does excellent work. But he has a really bad attitude, is always negative, and sometimes even mean.

Gossiping Gina: Gina is the mainstay of the office grapevine, if its news (of juicy!) she knows it and spreads it.

Cubicle Cassanova: Office romances are not prohibited and a single male employee has dated four women in the short time since he'?s been hired; he's also expressed interest in two others. He has not harassed or pressured any of them, there has not been any fallout from any of the breakups, and none of the women have expressed any problem with him either before or after their relationship. He has no direct reports, but is on track for a higher-level management position.

Angry Angela: Angela clearly has an anger management problem. She has thrown any punches . . . yet . . . but her quick temper has everyone around her tiptoeing on eggshells.

Timesheet Toms: Tom is a good worker, but always 'forgets' to turn his timesheet in on time. He does it, eventually, but doesn't seem to matter if he misses entire paychecks because he was so late.

Cursing Carla: Carla is a constant swearer, even when she's just muttering to herself. She's never angry about it, and doesn't have contact with the public. She may not even be aware she's doing it so much.

As much as you might prefer to get rid of these problem employees, there are potential legal consequences. Complaint-writing Cindy, for example, might have cause for grievance, and terminating her improperly might lead to a wrongful termination lawsuit. There are specific steps that can be taken in each circumstance that allow the employee the opportunity to change their behavior, which is the simplest solution.

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