Q: There is a woman within our system who has worked in every sow unit this company manages. She causes trouble everywhere she goes, and they just keep moving her from site to site. Why would they keep doing this when she is disruptive and has a consistently negative impact on her coworkers, regardless of the group she is with?
A: It does seem inappropriate that the company would just move her from place to place, although I have heard lots of excuses from owners and managers as to why they do such things. In some organizations, the managers simply cannot bring themselves to fire anyone, so they just keep trying to find something that works. In other cases, the individual is a family friend or a local person who’s dealing with a tough background and the decision-makers feel they need to give the person “a second chance to get her act together.” It is possible that she is just someone with really good negotiating skills.
There can be several reasons for not letting her go, but the company’s management needs to realize there are some people that are just not suited to this type of work or to this kind of social environment. Those people’s basic nature is to be caustic, rude and difficult, and as a result they create a counter productive social and work environment.
The results are predictable. You know how it makes you feel to have to work with her, and it quite often has its greatest effect on the best employees. Those employees tend to know their value to the business and realize that if their working environment is emotionally difficult, they will move to another job without the hassles of dealing with negative people. This limits the business’ growth potential and hurts its long-term reputation.
Talk to your boss and perhaps even further up the company management. Let them know the effect that this person is having on workplace productivity, as well as how the best employees feel about having to work with this person. Don’t threaten to quit or make demands; simply let management know that there is one person who is limiting everyone’s potential to enjoy their job and do it effectively.
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