from a reader: Kevin, I have a sales rep that has a short fuse. He doesn’t like
it when I question him. He blames others around him for his shortcomings or
oversights. And, now he’s blaming the management team because he lost a deal.
This has been going on for about a month now and I’m concerned his short fuse
is going to explode into a full-blown temper. Do you have any advice on what
steps I should take? Thanks, Sharon
Sharon, thank you for sending me the
note and question. Before I answer your question here is my disclaimer: I am a
sales manager and not an HR manager or attorney. With that said, I will be
happy to give you my opinion, but it’s just that, an opinion. I would certainly
speak with an HR specialist or an employment attorney.
As I finish my disclaimer with speaking
to an attorney you’re probably wondering why I’d take that step. We live and
work in a very different society than it was even twenty or so years ago. Think
road rage for a moment. It has gotten worse and worse over the years and has
definitely spilled into the workplace. You need to protect yourself and your
employees, both physically and from a business perspective.
Our employees are no different than us.
We all have good days and bad days. The priest at my parish says, “you never
know what someone else is going through”. People contend with illness, divorce,
financial hardship, death, etc. on a daily basis. We often don’t think about
what others are going through because we, ourselves, are dealing with our own
issues. But, it definitely crosses a line when an employee’s short fuse becomes
I believe a conversation with your
employee is needed. You also need to include your HR manager or specialist,
your own manager, or another department head. You need support and you need to
make sure your employee is getting support. This conversation does not need to
be confrontational, rather you’re expressing your concerns. Are they okay? Is
there something going on they want to share? Do they need help?
This conversation needs to happen and it
needs to be documented. You want to make sure this employee does not feel
threatened but that you are concerned and you want to help. Again, this is just
my opinion, but I’d be willing to bet they open up and share what’s causing
their distress. Although it may happen, I would be surprised if they became
defensive or short tempered. They will likely realize the err of their ways and
apologize. Offer to be there for them and help them if you can. If they show
appreciation you are on the right track.
However, if they do not appreciate the
offer of help, if they become defensive, short tempered, then you need to
immediately end the meeting and plan a course of action, such as a formal
employee intervention or even termination. Again, the work place can be an
added stress for us all, especially when we’re dealing with a personal
struggle, but how someone handles themselves is the difference between being
professional and being fired. There is no place for having a short fuse or an
anger issue with your fellow employees.