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Shutting Down The Office Motormouth

by on
in Your Office Coach

Question: “One of my employees is a good worker, but she’s a real motormouth. “Brenda” talks nonstop to anyone she can corner, repeating the same stories about her marriage, her family and her medical problems. She not only keeps other employees from working, but she also runs off potential customers with her nonstop conversation. If Brenda would just shut up, the office would greatly improve. I’ve been patient about this so far, but now she’s demanding more money because she’s getting divorced.  Brenda has told co-workers that she could earn more elsewhere, so I'm tempted to just tell her to leave. I have invested time training Brenda, and I can’t fault her work (when she’s not talking).  But I don’t know how to correct this problem without tossing her out the door.” — Frustrated

Marie's Answer: There's a lot of territory between tolerating Brenda and tossing her out.  For starters, you need to give her some honest feedback and set clear expectations. That’s what good managers do:

* Explain to her: "Brenda, your friendly personality is a real strength, and I appreciate that.  However, you’re spending too much time on personal conversations. This prevents other people from working and distracts our customers. I realize that this habit may be hard to break, so I'll tell you if I see it happening in the future."

* When you see Brenda monopolizing someone’s time, tactfully ask to speak with her privately and remind her about idle chatter. 

* Respond to her money demands by calmly explaining that raises are given for improved performance, not difficult life situations. If Brenda says that she can earn more elsewhere, tell her that you’ll understand if she decides to pursue a better opportunity. 

* Should Brenda fail to improve, you can always start searching for her replacement.  You might find someone who won’t annoy your staff or alienate your customers.

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