How to Deal with a Nagging Employee?

Updated on January 14, 2018
S.C. asks from Houston, TX
11 answers

My husband and i opened a small business last year and employed a part time employee who will have to work at the office 2-3 days a week on her own. Considering this we make it u by being very flexible in many aspects. She is well paid and sometimes we give her extra leave days. Her work is outstanding but she nags a lot about working alone sometimes. Now i dont really have managerial experience , how would you react to the nagging??

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M.S.

answers from Washington DC on

This job sounds AWESOME and you sound like awesome bosses! I would have a very honest discussion with her to find out why. Is she scared, bored, too busy to handle the calls herself, or just a complainer? Then fix what you can or find someone else to take her place. You run the show, not her.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

I'd sit down with her and say you're aware she's not happy. Ask her to tell you why and what she would like to see happen. To her be clear. Repeat it back to her so she knows she's been heard.

If you can't hire another person because it's not in the budget/business plan - you say so, and you say "You need to decide if this is a good fit for you going forward. I'm aware from your comments you're not happy about this aspect. There's nothing I can do about that".

If she continues to bring it up - you say again "This doesn't sound like it's working for you". She will get the hint. She either stops complaining or you address the complaining at that point.

Nip it in the bud now. But put it back on her. Some people just will drag things out hoping you'll bend rather than look for a new job. If she's unhappy, she will complain more and more over time. You don't need that (negative environment) no matter how good she is at her job - someone else would be happy with the set up.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

How long has she been doing this?
When I first started working from home and went from an office environment (as a programmer) to working over the phone (as a business analyst) through conference calls and emails in my home office - it took me a long time to get use to it.
While I was doing great work and everyone was happy with it - I wasn't getting the feedback to reassure me that my work was satisfactory and it stressed me out something awful.
I felt so isolated.
I even missed talking with the building receptionist every morning although that contact had nothing to do with performing my job as a programmer.
It got better when my boss started regular meetings (conference calls - my department colleagues were located all over the country and on several continents) with me as a mentoring thing - just a weekly over the phone meeting for about an hour.
It really helped me make the adjustment and once I was use to it I was fine.

Try mentoring her for awhile and see if she settles down.
It can take several months to half a year - but if she's still not settling down after 6 months - she might not be a good fit for the job.

If the job can be done over over the phone and with a computer - I'd apply for the job!

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W.W.

answers from Washington DC on

S.,

WHAT is she nagging about? Being alone? Does she NOT feel secure and safe in the office?

You need to ask her what she needs in order to feel safe and secure in the office and do it.

I'm personally fine working alone. However, one office building I worked in, also had a working line and the workers would sometimes stray into the halls at night - so when I worked late? it was startling to come across someone other than a security guard when I walked somewhere....

Just LISTEN to her and address her concerns. Once she feels like she's listened to? the nagging might stop.

CONGRATULATIONS on opening your own business!! I wish you much success!!

7 moms found this helpful
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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

What specifically are her complaints? Is there some way to help any of them? If people come in and startle her, perhaps a bell on the door.

If she is just a little lonely, maybe she doesn't intend it to be nagging, but she's just looking for a little empathy and a pat on the back. In that case, you could respond with "Yes, it can get a little boring being here all day by yourself, but we appreciate that you are willing to do it. Keep up the good work."

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M.6.

answers from New York on

Working alone is something that can be hard to get used to - especially if you are used to working in a "high traffic" situation. It is one of those things that folks generally think sounds like a great idea, but in reality it is much harder than it sounds (kind of like working from home sounds awesome until you have to do it).

I actually have no live human contact for the majority of my work day as I telecommute from my home and have little office or client contact. It was kind of funny because the front desk person called me a few weeks ago to "chat" because she was lonely. All the attorneys happened to be out for the day and due to weather, there was no foot traffic in to the office. She said "how can you do this every day! I'm going bonkers over here!"

No matter how "petty" it seems to you, your employee's complaint is legitimate or at least should be treated as such if you want to keep her. Sometimes folks just need to be heard. Other times, it is important to find a solution. Ask her which is she looking for and if a solution, does she have any suggestions? Can she bring her dog with to work (not sure what kind of business or if she has a pet)? Is music allowed - can you provide an Echo Dot or something she can listen to music on or a podcast (don't ask her to do headphones - that only makes you feel more isolated)? Maybe even just an occasional lunch out with the boss would do the trick?

Good employees, especially part-time ones, are hard to find. I'd see if I could find a way to make her happy.

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

i guess it revolves largely around what you mean by 'nagging', and i'm also not clear on what she's nagging about. she wants to work alone, or working alone makes her anxious?

i LOVE it when i get my workplace to myself and can just dig into projects i know need doing without distraction. my boss frustrates me because she interrupts me endlessly. i get so very much more done when i'm on my own.

but i don't know what your business is, or what exactly your employees issues are. it sounds like a great part time gig, but what do you consider to be nagging? is it something she brings up daily? is it the tone in which she tries to discuss it? does she have a valid issue that you should be addressing?

i'm not a good manager. i'm a great worker, but managing people isn't in my wheelhouse. so i'm responding to this as if i were your employee. to feel 'well managed' i'd like my complaints to be heard without defensiveness or judgment, i'd like to be asked what my solutions would be, and i guess i'd like to be met somewhere in the middle.

if she's just Wendy Whiner and moves to a new complaint each time one is addressed, then your only option is decide whether the value of her work outweighs the annoyance of her attitude.

khairete
S.

3 moms found this helpful

T.D.

answers from Springfield on

if you lived near me i would say get rid of her and hire me! i love being able to work alone. i ran an office for a ground cover farm. we supplied local walmarts and ace hardwares. 95% of my day i was alone. i loved it!
i was allowed to do whatever i wanted once my paperwork and phone calls were completed. sometimes the dog would nap on the floor of the office, sometimes the phone would ring but for the most part i was in the office, on the farm by myself. and for me it was the best job ever!
your employee needs to suggest a solution to her problem not just nag about it. maybe ask her to tell you what could be done to make it better for her

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

I would say, mostly, what you said here.

First, I would find out why she doesn't like working alone. Is she afraid? Is there a security issue? Can you do anything to fix that or reassure her?

If she's just social and likes to have someone around, that's too bad, assuming that she knew she would work alone when she interviewed. Did you explain this part to her? It's a small business, and the reason you have her there is so that you can do whatever else you have to, right?

Sometimes small companies don't have written job descriptions. If you don't, can you construct one based on what you told her in the interview? You can find templates and examples on line. Write it all down. Then sit with her and say that you want to be sure she agrees with what's on the list. Have you left anything out that you have asked her to do or that she has added to her task list which you find beneficial? That makes it collaborative, but you're still the boss. Is there anything she is doing that you don't want done or need done?

Do you have any kind of written personnel policy regarding vacation, sick, and personal time off? If not, write those up too. Even if you have them, write them up. You can indicate your position on being "flexible" such as how much notice she is supposed to give and what format her requests should take. You write these as if they applied to anyone you employ, not just her. If she's just asking for time off and you are scrambling to cover her job, that needs to stop.

Then you review her performance: you indicate to her the things that make her work, in your words, "outstanding." Then you list areas for development, growth and improvement. Professional demeanor does not include nagging. She can register a formal complain about something if she wants to, but she can't complain about a job description and requirements she agreed to. If an employee wants to suggest ways to broaden a job or make the work environment more efficient or pleasant, that's one thing. But complaining that the policies and environment she agreed to aren't to her liking when this is the job (!) isn't one of them. You can tell her that it's a negative on her performance evaluation and something you would like to see changed because it's unprofessional and a nuisance. If this isn't the job for her, then so be it. You can agree to have her leave and you can find a replacement.

Sometimes small businesses set things up in such a casual manner, employees act like they are family members or friends rather than staff. You can all upgrade your professionalism to get rid of these problems. Ultimately, you are the boss.

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D.D.

answers from Boston on

What Margie G said 100%. Some people are just complainers and if you change something they'll just complain about something else. .

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N.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

If this is about being alone in the building and not feeling completely secure perhaps you can figure out a way to help her feel safer.

Can she take some work to her home to do? Give her a flat salary to accomplish A, B, and C then give her a time and date it must be completed and on your desk. Can phone calls be forwarded to her phone or a cell phone you provide on her days on the clock? Can she deal with customers on the phone from her home too.

I have had to work alone in a building where there are several entrances, floors, and space. I would hear something off in a distance inside the building, it could be the wind on the skylights, but I felt afraid. I like it much better when there are other people nearby.

If she just wants someone to talk to because there isn't that much to do during her "hours" at work then that's a different thing. She might need more to do. If she doesn't have much to do then allow her to have her phone/tablet and internet access.

When I've been at work, no customers coming in, I would get on my cell phone and call all my friends and family that I don't often have down time to call and chat. Then when a customer came in I'd get off the phone before they were all the way out of their vehicle and in the door.

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