Uncomfortable Situations in The Office and How To Deal With Them As a Manager

Business.com / Managing / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Setting a tone of competence is important as a manager. The following are situation you may deal have to deal with as a manager.

The first couple of years in a position of power at a company can be quite uncomfortable.

Whether it is giving end-of-year reviews or having to write somebody up, there will be new situations that you will have to deal with regularly.

A manager that is uncomfortable to act or reprimand employees in uncomfortable or stressful situations can quickly lose the respect of those working for them.

Setting a tone of competence is important from day one as a new manager trying to find their voice can quickly be trampled.

The following are some situations you might dread but you may have to deal with as a manager.

Related Article:Leading by Example: Can Managers Reduce Stress in the Office?

Firing a Long-Time Employee

There could be any reason that this employee is being let go even if they used to be a high-producing person in the office. It becomes easy to become defiant or negative about the direction of a company after being there for quite some time. Negativity coming from one of the leaders in the office can cripple productivity and drain the positive energy out of the workspace.

How to deal with this:

  • Give the employee a warning whether it is written or verbal. Document this as sometimes long-time employees who are fired can be vindictive and try to bring a wrongful termination lawsuit. In addition, this employee deserves a chance to improve for their years of working with the company.
  • If some improvement comes about after the warning you should put the employee on a probationary period. Anyone can improve performance for a month or two just to go back to their slacking ways. This probationary period shouldn’t be held over the person’s head in cases of mistakes, though.
  • Talk to a few leaders in the office prior to firing this person. Keeping a positive attitude after an employee is fired after years can be difficult.
  • Work out any severance package you might want to give to the employee. Taking care of employees both past and presently is important. The former employee might end up using a service or product once they move on in their professional life. Taking care of the employees also helps curb any hostility that might lead to an employment-related lawsuit.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment of any kind shouldn’t be tolerated in the slightest. This can make employees dread coming to work and even impact their quality of life outside of the office. The lawsuits that can be brought on by sexual harassment can be crippling to a small business.

How to deal with sexual harassment:  

  • Go straight to HR about the situation to document everything. The HR team will know what papers need to be signed and filled out to minimize liability.
  • Under no circumstances should the employee coming forward be punished in any way. This can be difficult to control but lawsuits for illegal treatment after coming forward can be costly. If the employee coming forward is fired for any reason, a thorough investigation of motives for firing should be done.
  • Have an open door policy with anonymity when it comes to sexual harassment. Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable in the place they spend the most time besides home.

Related Article:How to Improve Relations Between Your Managers and Employees

Substance Abuse

Work hard and party harder seems to be the mantra of many companies these days. This can mean a company happy hour got out of hand and someone was out all night drinking. The tough part about substance abuse is that the signs can be looked over quite easily. Regardless if the person is a poor performer or great performer the same course of action should be taken.

  • Confront the person about what is happening. If they respond saying their numbers are good, let them know nobody can show up to work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Bringing in a breathalyzer can seem extreme but it can help you document the person being inebriated.
  • Refer the person to counseling and if they fail to complete this, you should terminate them. Most companies won’t give an employee this many chances. Understand when you should just let this employee go on their way.

A Breakup Between Employees

The fact is that a policy of no fraternization should be taken in the office. This might be surpassed especially if a person helps get a significant other a job at their office. These people are grandfathered in by the rule but in the case of a breakup, things should be handled sensitively. In the best case scenario, they don’t work in the same department but in the worst case scenario, they work with each other on a daily basis.

How to handle this:

  • Sit both employees down and let them know that their breakup shouldn’t impact their professional relationship.
  • If there is an option, move them from projects where they are working together. Some people will be fine after a breakup and this won’t have to happen. Others might not be able to do this so gauge which situation you have for yourself.
  • Thwart any gossip about the relationship by other employees. The breakup and relationship are the business of those two people.

Related Article: Bringing Zen to the Office: Creating an Office Space That Lends Itself to Easing Stress & Tension

As you can see this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to uncomfortable situations you will face as a manager. Preparing for these things before they happen will help you react in a timely manner when they do arise. In just a few years these situations won’t ever phase you.

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