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Forced to employ a habitual troublemaker

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Q. Almost two years ago, I was forced by my boss to take a transfer employee from another department who I knew was trouble. This person likes to pit employees against each other by bad-mouthing them. She has managed to foster several allies among my staff.

Some employees tell me confidentially what she does but they don’t want me to confront her. They are all afraid of her. This person is driving a wedge into the strong team I have spent six years developing. Please advise.

A. You’ve got to get rid of this divisive employee. Start by keeping a paper trail and building a strong case so that you can fire her. Remember that the ability to work with others is part of the job.

Monitor her performance closely and hold her accountable for attaining measurable goals, just as you should do with all employees. Put her on probation if her work suffers, and train others to handle her job. This gives you flexibility to reassign or terminate her.

Meanwhile, contain the damage. By communicating openly and honestly with all your employees and letting them know exactly how you view their performance—and addressing rumors head-on—you leave less room for this troublemaker to thrive.

Spend less time worrying about what this person does and more time conversing with each of your employees about their work, career goals and advancement.

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