Dealing with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
You have an employee, let’s call her Mildred, and you never know what to expect from her. Consistency is not a word that you would use to describe Mildred, and you have noticed that coworkers walk on eggshells during their interactions with her. One minute she is an exemplary employee, and the next she is arguing with her team and disrupting everyone in the office. What do you do with an employee who has highs that make them a valued employee, but also has drastic lows that threaten their productivity and office morale?
With Halloween right around the corner, it’s easy to make the comparison between an employee like Mildred and the classic story of split personalities, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. An employee with this split persona is not only difficult to work with, but is also difficult to manage as you never know which personality is going to show up to work that day.
Encourage Jekyll moments: Make sure to reinforce desired behavior as it occurs. Give them credit when credit is due, and clearly articulate what they did well to increase the chances that their positive actions will become the norm. Be specific and explain that this behavior should be consistent throughout their time with your company.
Jekyll moments include:
- Collaborating to successfully complete a project
- Communicating effectively
- Keeping an open mind to all ideas
- Willingness to help coworkers
- Talking respectfully to managers, coworkers, and clients regardless of personal feelings
Point out Hyde moments: Despite everyone else in the office having an acute awareness of their split personality, your employee may not be aware of how their actions are negatively impacting productivity and their reputation. Stay on top of these employees and verbalize their Hyde moments to help them recognize, and hopefully prevent, negative behavior in the future. Use caution when approaching an employee who is having a Hyde moment, but don’t hesitate to address it immediately. Pointing out this behavior (as well as documenting it) can be used to justify future decisions regarding their employment, especially if it continues and termination becomes a real option.
Hyde moments include:
- Losing patience with coworkers
- Being argumentative
- Having a counterproductive mentality in meetings
- Creating a hostile work environment
- Refusing to complete responsibilities assigned to them
Open the conversation: By sitting down and having a conversation with your office Jekyll and Hyde you can uncover what their triggers are. Ask them questions that can help you get to the root of their behavior.
- How do you feel about your workload?
- How do you feel about your relationships with your team members?
- Are you feeling overwhelmed?
Choose your words wisely as any confrontation or critique (even those given with good intentions) may trigger a Hyde moment.
Jekyll and Hyde employees can create a hostile work environment or add to the success of the team, depending on their mood. It is important for you, their manager, to encourage consistency for the sake of everyone in the office.