Respond to Carol’s question. How would you advise her to proceed in dealing with this employee whose attitude seems so disruptive?

The vocally UNhappy camper

Primary Topic—Employee Problems and Problem Employees

Additional Topics—Communication; Criticism and Discipline; Motivation

“I have a problem with one employee that’s affecting the whole department’s per- formance,” said business office manager Carol Jamison, “and I’m wondering if I can refer that person to you to help find out what’s going on.”

“What does seem to be going on?” asked employee health nurse Agnes Wilson. “Who’s the employee?”

“It’s Jean Todd,” Carol answered. “A really longtime employee, one of the most senior in the group.”

Agnes nodded and said, “I’ve known her for years. What seems to be the problem?”

“I don’t know. As long as I’ve been there—you’re aware that I came in as manager from the outside, just 4 years ago—Jean’s projected an extremely negative attitude. She’s been here lots longer than I have, but I don’t know if she’s always been like that.”

“She’s been here over 20 years, and no, she hasn’t always been that way.” Carol said, “Jean turns out good work. In fact, it seems that a tall pile of work

or a minor workload disaster is made to order for her capability. She’s really very productive most of the time, but to listen to her constant griping you’d think she was the most unhappy person you ever met.”

Agnes asked, “What does she usually complain about?” “Just about everything. Me and my style. The hospital’s policies. Her coworkers.

Her pay and benefits. The work itself.” “What about her life outside of work?” “I think something’s going on but I don’t know what. She complains about life

in general just about as much as she gripes about work. And don’t ever get her on the subject of her oldest child!”

“If her work is so good, what’s the real problem? Outside of having her attitude in the middle of the department?”

Carol said, “I’m worried mostly about the other employees. Jean has alienated almost everyone. About once a week she has one of the others in tears, and two

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people have asked me to move their work stations farther from hers. One of my best billers has threatened to quit if I don’t do something about Jean.”

“That bad?” “Truly that bad. How can I turn her around before the other employees start

leaving?”

Instructions:

Respond to Carol’s question. How would you advise her to proceed in dealing with this employee whose attitude seems so disruptive?

118      Case 54: The Vocally Unhappy Camper

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