Dear Annie: I am the manager of a small business with one coworker. For the past eight years, “Sheila” and I have gotten along fairly well. Last year, not so much. Sheila has become lazy, obnoxious and surly. She seems to have a chip on her shoulder, and her teenage kids are a nightmare (drugs, shoplifting, alcohol, sexual activities, theft, you name it). She brings all of this baggage to work and talks about it. I just try to get through the day without too much drama.
When it was time for Sheila’s end-of-year evaluation, I could not bring myself to give her a better grade than the previous year. Not only had the evaluation criteria become stricter, but Sheila had changed. When she saw her score, she became angry and upset. I asked whether she had any ideas for her development and improvement for the coming year, and she said to increase her alcohol consumption.
I am close to retirement. Should I put the hard feelings behind me or find someone to replace her? Sheila is a single mom, and I know she needs the job. I am torn. I have referred her and her family to our EAP counseling several times, but it falls on deaf ears. – Need Less Drama
Dear Drama: We feel sorry for Sheila. She has her hands full at home and is probably stressed beyond measure. When she comes to work, she feels secure enough to vent, and it relieves the pressure and is therapeutic for her. Unfortunately, it’s not therapeutic for you.
Please be compassionate, as well as honest. Tell Sheila that you understand she is under a great deal of pressure, but when she takes out her frustrations at work, it makes it difficult to be around her. Say that talking about her troubles will help, but she should utilize the EAP services so that her problems won’t spill over onto her job.