Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


The Rep With A Short Fuse - May 12, 2018

Question 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 abusive.


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.

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