Charlie’s most difficult employee should never have been hired. Charlie had, in fact, selected another candidate for the open position. But, a higher up had instead chosen the blond, single and well-endowed applicant. That the higher up wasn’t around much longer was fitting irony. Charlie was left with someone else’s problem. After being hired, the blond, single and well-endowed employee informed Charlie she was the product of a broken home and had a family history of mental illness. Despite this admission Charlie gave her the benefit of the doubt. The admission was merely a precursor to (or excuse for) trouble, however. After the transition period, her true split personality came out. She expected to be treated differently than the other employees. She couldn’t take constructive criticism from anyone, including the clients. She lacked any pretense of professionalism. She would binge on candy during meetings with the clients, eating nonstop until the candy was gone. During a presentation to the clients on one occasion, she froze up and was unable to finish. She just stopped, walked over to her chair, and started eating candy. Before the whispering from the clients grew too loud, Charlie jumped in to bail her out. She never gave an explanation for the behavior. She was seriously messed up. She and Charlie’s personalities were like oil and water. They fought. They cursed. They threw things. Each time an eruption occurred Charlie asked Delta for help. Each time, Delta told him to stop getting into altercations, document everything that she was doing wrong, and to get HR involved. Charlie failed on all three parts. After about a year, she asked to be transferred to another city, one in which she had expressed a profound desire to live. Here finally was the solution Charlie had needed. He arranged the transfer and promoted another, very deserving, person to fill the vacant position. Everyone came out a winner. A week later, Charlie received a call from the Director at the office in the other city. The troublesome employee had never shown up for work. When they had called her hotel room, she had informed them that she wouldn’t be coming in for work. She’d had a panic attack and was unable to work. She’d decided to return, never mind there was no longer a job for her. And, all of this was after a month long buildup of transfer negotiations and relocation agreements and travel arrangements. There had been plenty of time to back out. Instead, the panic attack excuse was used and the whole thing fell apart. Charlie was flabbergasted. He was disappointed. The Director of the other office was upset, accusing (correctly) Charlie of sending a messed up employee. But, a week later Bravo gave her a job. She would be back in the original office and again working for Charlie. He told Charlie she needed another chance. He smoothed over the inter-office disagreement. Both Delta and Charlie were suspicious of his motives, but there was nothing they could do. A month later another eruption occurred and this time she quit. Charlie had called Delta immediately after the incident, still in shock. Delta had again advised him to call the HR people in the Home Office and get everything documented. This time, Charlie followed the suggestion and called HR that same day, which probably saved his career. The day after storming out of the office, “Panic Attack” called HR herself and accused Charlie of doing all the bad things bosses sometimes do. If not for the information in the file that had already been provided by Charlie, HR would surely have accepted her story. As it was, though, it took involvement from Alpha to get Charlie off the hook.

 

And, in what should surely surprise no one, Charlie even had an employee busted for sending inappropriate emails to a female coworker. Charlie had dealt with incompetent employees. He’d suffered through situations with difficult subordinates. And, to complete the HR nightmare, Charlie had to deal with an employee who didn’t think the company harassment rules applied. The employee was married with kids. He wasn’t the boorish obnoxious type. But, he crossed a line, whether or not it was merely a joke. The incident surprised everyone. And, again, Charlie was the person dealing with the repercussions and the aftermath.

 

You can tell a lot about a company by the number of people who quit or get fired.

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