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Q. I have two problems with a new employee. She has only been on the job one month. First, she’s a ‘know it all’ on how things should be done, even though this is her first office job. Plus, she always challenges the way the office is run. Each day it’s something different (“Can I smoke in the office?” “Can I wear jeans to work?”). I have no problem telling her no, but it’s tiring dealing with this every day. I don’t want to break her spirit, but I need to slow her down on these issues. I’ve tried talking to her, but I haven’t gotten through. What’s your advice?

A. Given that she’s only been working there one month and it’s her first office job, she may benefit by having a mentor guide her through the corporate culture. Is there a more seasoned co-worker whom you trust to influence her positively? If so, ask that co-worker to coach her on office etiquette. (Plus, a good mentor can relieve you of the constant effort of dealing with her requests.) If the employee is a “know it all,” harness her confidence by assigning her an ambitious project with a firm deadline and clear, written accountabilities. Tell her that she’s being given this high-visibility project as a test so that you can evaluate her judgment. Make the assignment rigorous so that she must bear down to get it done on time. This way, you direct her focus on something specific while allowing you to better isolate her performancerelated strengths and weaknesses. In terms of office policies (regarding smoking, dress, etc.), make it easy on yourself: Give her an employee manual and tell her that she’s responsible for following all the policies, “as is everyone else who works here.”

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