We have just hired a first-jobber. Technically, she is very good, but she is very thin-skinned, which is causing all sorts of problems. She has issues with criticism, even of the most constructive kind, and has started making tearful phonecalls to more senior colleaguse every time she receives any criticism - real or perceived. What can we do?
Manage her. Tell her to follow your established reporting lines. I am sure that the senior colleagues are telling her the same and referring her back to her manager - if not they ought to be. Ask her what the problems are and reinforce the positive comments about her technical ability, whilst reminding her that she can expect people to comment on her work and her behaviour and that it is something she will have to deal with, because technical ability is not enough. Try explaining your comments about her work in different ways; you are only trying to help her achieve her potential. If she is new to work, she may be having all sorts of personal problems and so it would be worth asking whether there is anything you can reasonably do to help with those. You could consider a mentor to help settle her into work and adjust to a world in which people comment on what we do as a normal part of every day life. Ultimately, it's a disciplinary issue, but you are a long way from that at present.
A 1 to 1 conversation appears to be the best way to start the process of dealing with this as she clearly has no awareness that this behaviour is unacceptable in a work environment and if no one tells her this is the case, she won't ever know any better. It might also be worth offering her some basic training (delivered by an external provider I would think in th circumstances) to help her with her own ability to deal with feedback in the workplace. If she is good at the job then some support in developing her social skills at work would go a long way.
It might also be worth your while looking into how existing, senior, staff communicate. And this might be a good opportunity for a quick refresher course on workplace communications - particularly between levels.
It's time you read this girl the riot act. If she's big enough and old enough to have a job, she should be big enough and old enough to deal with criticism. And if it's a first job, she should be expecting a steep learning curve and at least some negative feedback. Enough of the pussy-footing around! Read this Management Today article on the death of the bollocking.
And lachrymose girls in the workplace simply provide further ammunition for the old timers who think women should spend their days in front of a cooker, rather than a desk.
I have a similar problem. After a sincere apology to assure my college there was no malice behind the criticism she continues to report it to the manager. My manager has never approached the person who made the criticism, instead speaks with everyone else. There has been a few too many situations where this has happened.
I would like to discuss a few things with my colleague which may include some criticism (which I will assist to overcome). However, I am afraid that it will be received badly and end in tears again (it has happened before). I am not comfortable in speaking to my manager as both are seen whispering away from the team and both backstabbing to team members about team members.
This has lead to an "us vs them" situation and I am concerned that a grievance or bullying case may arise. Unfortunately, if this should occur I do not believe my manager will handle this correctly. Ironically we are a HR team.
The team did not have backstabbing problems until my colleague joined only problems with our manager not being consistent, unsupportive, poor communicator and listener to name a few. This situation has now caused stress and anxiety to everyone in the team. It is exhausting when the team is not open to communication, constantly worried about someone’s over-sensitivity, concerned about what has been communicated to our manager and with no support from the manager.
Can someone please provide me with some advice as to what I can do or who to speak to as I cannot confront my colleague nor my manager (which I have attempted with no result)? I also believe I will not have any support of my manager and that it will be mishandled.
Lachrymose Girls, riot act and bollocking. Outstanding advice, !!
I was in a similar situation struggling to deal with critcism, ultimately it became such a problem that I sought help from a psychiatrist. We discovered that I had a borderline personality disorder. Fortunately I have an employer who was prepared to listen and through working with my manager, occupational health and my psychiatrist we found ways to give honest feedback that didn't involve " a bollocking or reading the riot at".
Riot act and bollocking are so 70's, but oh yes of course that was pre the days of the DDA and we didn't have to deal with things such as personality disorders, we just locked people "like that" away.
I'm big enough and old enough to have a job and am valued by the organisation I work for, with some honest open dialogue and understanding I manage to sustain a career as an HR Professional and the feedback that comes with it.
Smithers I would suggest you bin those flares and copy of Saturday Night Fever and realise that society has moved on, issues are more complex in this century.
In reponse to the original post, it may be this person has similar issues to mine, some personality tests have been suggested which is sound advice, I would also discuss with Occupational Health, was a Health Questionnaire completed at the time of recruitment.
Sit down and discuss with the individual, explain that there are times when we all have to take criticism and if that it was necessary to give some feedback that was negative how would she respond best to being told. Also acknowledge there are times when she will perform well and that in turn will be recognised in the form of praise, it is important that she puts things into perspective. Some people don't recognise when they are doing well and being praised, but if they are critcised it can be really hard for them to deal with.
Good luck, there is no one size fits all solution as we are all individuals, life would be boring if it was simple.
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