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Dealing with Employee Issues

Lately, one of your subordinates has been unusually irritable with several people in your department. You have purposely refrained from taking action because you believe that the parties involved should work out such difficulties. This approach has worked well in similar situations in the past. This morning, however, your subordinate directed some unnecessary remarks to you, and now it is apparent that you must act. Before you have an opportunity to discuss the situation, you hear through the grapevine that the subordinate is having marital difficulties, which obviously could be the source of the problem.

In handling the situation, you feel your best approaches are the following:
1. Mention that you've heard about the marital difficulties and that, although sympathetic, you don't feel that personal problems should influence behavior toward co-workers or job performance.

2. Privately advise other staff members that your subordinate is having some personal problems, and ask for their understanding during this difficult period.

3. Approach the problem by using yourself as an example. Indicate that you sometimes have personal problems and irritations but that you try not to let them affect you on the job. Then suggest that the subordinate exert extra effort to be less abrasive with others.

4. Ask questions and attempt to get a thorough understanding of your subordinate's problem so that you can give appropriate advice.

5. Mention that you have noticed the subordinate's recent irritable behavior, and listen to what the subordinate has to say. Then, in an understanding way, indicate that personal problems should not be allowed to affect job performance.

Other alternatives may be open to you, but assume that these are the only ones you have considered. Without discussion with anyone, decide which of these approaches
you would take. Be prepared to defend your choice.

Solution Preview

I will be addressing each of the 5 alternatives separately, with some input that should help guide you to an answer you can phrase in your own words. Clearly, some of the options are more feasible than others, so you can help finalize your answer with those considerations in mind. My hope is to help get you started on your way to a solid answer, while ALSO providing you with some material that can be used to defend your choice (as the question suggests).

1. Mention that you've heard about the marital difficulties and that, although sympathetic, you don't feel that personal problems should influence behavior toward co-workers or job performance.

- This response sounds like you are almost attacking the subordinate, while also fostering obvious rumors. Unless you have spoken with the employee personally, you have no history with regards to this problem. You are highly likely to cause more friction.

2. Privately advise other staff members that your ...

Solution Summary

In the scenario discussed in the problem, you are a supervisor with a 'situation' that you have to handle.

This particular question asks the student to be prepared to defend his/her answer after choosing their response.

I tackle each of the 5 alternatives with pro's/con's (where applicable) so that you can come to a final answer, but also respond when asked to defend why you made the choice you made.

Read on...

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