How to handle an employee Pity Party

pity-party-500x330How do you handle it when an employee or direct report comes to you and gives this long sob story? It may sound something like this:

  • “I really don’t feel good today. My stomach has been killing me all night. I hope I can make it through the day.”
  • “I’ve got a lot going on. My family is bla bla bla. I will try my best to not let it affect me today.”
  • “My back is killing me. I hope its okay, but I just plan on taking it kinda easy this morning.”

Leaders see this everyday and it brings productivity to a screeching halt.  That person still wants to be paid for the day but doesn’t want to be held accountable to quality work.  Not only does this stifle productivity but it poisons morale because misery leaks. Don’t kid yourself by thinking they won’t tell everyone who will listen their not so unique pity party and drag them down the hole with them.  For the organization, it’s like driving around with the emergency brake on. Next thing you know if you let them slide with the lack luster behavior more and more people will start slacking because it’s acceptable.

How to handle it:

When you hear a pity party just ask, “Do you need to go home/to the doctor?”

If they say they do, document it and send them.

If they say “no I think I can’t make it through” say,

“Good. Well if your going to be here I need you to work. I understand your situation but it’s not fair to me, your coworkers and our customers for you to slack off. I’d rather you be hot or cold. Luke warm won’t cut it. Put this issue in the parking lot and focus on your work today. You can go back to feeling bad later just not now. Fair enough?”

If they complain again either send them home or assign them additional task. The whining will stop.



How would YOU handle an employee Mutiny?

How Would YOU Handle an Employee Mutiny?
by Glenn Shepard July 7, 2015 Category:  Management

An optometrist who attended my seminar at Radford University in Virginia had three employees, all women. She worked in what she called a “Hormone Rich Environment”.

One of her employees was the troubled child who did everything wrong. The two good employees constantly complained that the optometrist let the problem employee get away too much.

One day the optometrist caught her problem employee committing a flagrant HIPAA violation so egregious that it could have caused her to lose her license, and fired her immediately.

The optometrist assumed her other two employees would thank her for finally getting rid of their toxic coworker, who they called “The Wicked Witch of the Office”.

She could not have been more wrong.

Instead, they came marching in with their arms crossed and said “How could you do that to her? She’s a single mom struggling to support two kids, and she needs this job. Hire her back!”

The optometrist explained that it was her practice, and it was not a democracy. But her remaining two employees didn’t back down. They dug in their heels and issued this ultimatum…

“If you don’t hire her back, we both quit!”

The situation had quickly spiraled out of control and turned into a mutiny.

Now put yourself in the optometrist’s shoes. You began your day with three employees. By 8:30, you’re down to two, and you’re facing the very real possibility of having no one left by lunchtime if you don’t hire back the problem employee.

What would YOU do?

There’s actually no decision for you to make, because it’s already been made for you. If you made the mistake of hiring back the problem employee, your employees would be in control of your business and you would be powerless.

Employees who give ultimatums like that are terrorists. Terrorists are people who use the threat of harming you to get what they want. Most countries have a firm policy on negotiating with terrorists which is, “We don’t.”

This must be your policy when employees try to force you to do what they want.

The optometrist, who admitted to being a softie in the past, pointed out the door to her employees and told them they’d be missed. They backed off and sheepishly quipped “We were just kidding.”

Managers hope it never comes to this, but sometimes it does. The owner of a window washing company who attended my seminar in Waco, Texas, lost all six of his employees the same day. A hotel maintenance manager who attended in Omaha, Nebraska, lost all eight of his employees his second week on the job.

They both suffered short term. But once they re-staffed, they both reaped the benefits of new staff that respected their authority.

Majority rule

Every now and again the majority rule gets it right. I do want to emphasize the phrase “every now and again”. That’s because for the most part the majority is stupid. The vast opinion or popular vote is rarely right. Individuals are smart, groups of people (aka mobs) are dumb.  The majority vote released Barabbas and sentenced Jesus to death. It’s the job of the leader is to take all the information and discern between right and wrong, even when it’s not popular.