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Dealing with Employees/Three clerks, three problems


Hi Ed,

I am an office coordinator that reports directly to the warehouse manager. I supervise a team of three female clerks. One works graveyards and has become a bit of a downer over the last several months but still performs rather well. The worst of the bunch is moody, sassy, rude, disorganized, requires constant supervision but is very punctual. The newest addition to our team gets too much enjoyment pointing out the faults of others (particularly mine) but doesn’t take her own seriously; she’s also quite sassy and has some smart-alecky reply to just about everything but is still cheery and needs little supervision. I, myself, am new at my position but know the business very well. I am naturally well-mannered, polite and generous. Downside to that is that it is seen as a weakness and any flaw in my behaviour or work is paraded around the office by all three of them. That’s the background.

In the foreground, I am having different issues with each of these three clerks and also a personal one.

Graveyard clerk: I don’t get to see her much so I feel like, although I do send out positive emails about her work, she’s left out and doesn’t get some of the perks others on day shifts are privileged to have. How can I make her work experience more enjoyable and fulfilling so she can be less of a downer?

The worst: We’ve had countless meetings with her about her attitude and performance but my manager chooses not to let her go (rumors are that he’s into her). Her ways makes work difficult for the rest of us and we’re left tip toeing about in our own space because we don’t know what will set her off. At what point do I let my manager know that it’s enough? How do I bring up the subject of letting her go? How much documentation do I need?

The newbie: She’s a pleasure to work with except for the sass she picks up from ‘the worst’. Her need to point out faults is a drag and sometimes the accusations are built on sand as she may not have all the details but will make assumptions. Example: She was not in on Friday, I was. Customer needed an invoice adjustment for product they did not want us to ship however; this was relayed to me by the dock supervisor once I returned from lunch. I was only asked to adjust the invoice, never spoke to the customer. I did what was expected of me but the customer called on Saturday because something else was wrong with their invoice (they failed to place an order). She then sent me a very unprofessional email about how I had screwed up on the customer’s invoice. I do take a lot of pride in my work so may be sensitive to this type of issue and she likely meant it as a joke but, how far do I allow this kind of joking to go? How can I have her understand the problem with finger pointing in respect to team building?  

Personal: I work in a warehouse where the atmosphere is not highly professional. There's lots of cussing, people talking about their wild drinking parties and plenty of other improper topics and actions. I am a bit of an outsider as I don't drink, smoke or cuss. I'm a happy person that actually cares about her work. Others view me as a good-goody, a Ms. Perfect but it's not my intention to be seen like that. I'm simply being myself. I've said it out loud many times that I'm only human and will make mistakes but there are always so many eyes on me, waiting for me to fail. I don't expect to make any friends at work but I would like them to see me as human and not a robot or a saint. What tips and/or advice could you give me in on this topic?

Thanks for reading this extremely long email. I sincerely appreciate your time and input.

Dear Saloumeh:  

Thank you for your questions.  In general, you seem like a responsible, caring manager.  Most employees around the world would die to work for a manager with your qualities.  So, no more fretting about your leadership abilities.  I'm fairly confident you have these in spades.  

My first recommendation involves HOW TO to determine which employees in your new organization are worth keeping.  In order to make this decision, you must ask yourself the following questions about your WORST employee:

a. Does this employee’s work effort contribute to the achievement of my organization’s mission?

b. Does this employee cooperatively and professionally work with all teammates (this includes you as the team’s manager) to achieve results that support my organization’s goals and objectives?

c. Do this employee’s behaviors foster a work environment that creates Joy, Freedom, and Growth?

If the answer to ALL of these questions is YES, then you’ve got a great employee.  Move on to asking the same questions about your NEXT WORST employee, and the next, and so on until you have asked these questions about all of your problem employees.  If the answer to ANY of these questions about an employee is NO, then you must proceed with formal counseling to re-align him/her with your organization or remove him/her from it.  By formal counseling I mean direct conversation with this employee, with no mincing of words, about the problems he/she is causing on your team, and how you expect this behavior to change immediately.

NOTE: You can download a FREE HOW TO document from my folder at You can also access this folder at  Please find and download the PDF document titled "HOW TO Fix Your Worst Nightmare Employee." Also, download the Manager-Supervisor RATING tool and KEY spreadsheets. Run these on yourself and your boss.  Do NOT show your boss the results.  This is intended to help you better understand the quality of manager you are and the same for your boss. Also, feel free to download any of the other documents you think may be of interest or value to you as a manager.

IMPORTANT: If your boss will not allow you to determine who stays on your team and who goes, then the truth is you're probably not cut out to work for him.  If this is the case, proceed to make an exit plan and go find yourself more compatible (with you)workplace.

Saloumeh, I hope this response helped you. Please feel free to write me again for clarifications of the above. Also,please visit my website ( to learn more or, better yet, buy my book "Natural Born Manager" there.  You can also download my FREE managerial tools from my Linkedin BOX folder on my Profile at (  Finally, in my book, you'll find many helpful ideas similar to those presented here, ideas that will empower you to resolve your most difficult career and work related challenges.  The best of luck to you!


Ed Parr

Dealing with Employees

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Ed Parr


How to organize employees, how to stop infighting, how to handle problem employees, and more. I have 25+ yrs. of managing within a variety of industries and labor environments. I have managed from 50 to 1,000 staff on projects with P&L responsibility ranging from $100K to $30MIL. I currently serve as a management consultant to business and government. I enjoy helping people, especially supervisors and managers, evolve in their careers.


Over 15 years of senior management experience including: systems development, technical help desks, customer service, back-office operations, branch administration and regulatory compliance. Responsibilities have been as large as 1,000 professionals delivering projects with P&L as high as $30 million and assets totaling more than $10 billion. Customer interaction has ranged from customer service reps to CEOs. Greatest accomplishment: Helping employees be all they can be.

Institute of Management Accountants (

Purchase my book "NATURAL BORN MANAGER" at (get a 10% discount via the Pay-It-Forward link).

A graduate With Distinction of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, Ed is a 35-year veteran of organizational leadership. He is a Certified Management Accountant (C.M.A) who has worked in management positions ranging from team leader to senior executive. He has managed as many as 1,000 employees deployed in multi-site facilities and consulted with or managed for both large and small organizations including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, E.D.S., PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Sprint Corporation. In addition, Ed is an 10-year contributor to as a pro bono management expert, advising managers, supervisors, and employees around the globe providing them practical solutions to their everyday workplace challenges. Finally, Ed is an avowed Accountability Manager who strives to learn and educate others about the fundamental truths of management.

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