• Karen Williams

One Bad Apple Can Disrupt Your Team – Be Ready and Able to Respond with Written Documentation



Human Resources professionals see a lot of interesting situations. This scenario truly took place, but the names have been changed to protect the company and everyone involved.


The team that reports to you consists of ten members. In general, they are a tight group who choose to eat lunch together every day when they can and help each other out brainstorming problems. They all have a lot of experience and are highly productive. You’ve gotten lots of kudos from your supervisor for the work your team does.


You do have one team member, Tamara, who is not on the same level as the others. She is the newest employee, having worked there for only several months, but you have started to think she is a problem that may not be fixable.


Tamara is in the habit of coming to your office every day, spending from ten minutes to over an hour complaining that her fellow team members don’t like her, your clients don’t sufficiently respect her, the other team members don’t dress as professionally as she does, etc. You have also received feedback from clients that Tamara’s work is not at the same level as your other team members. It is exhausting and time consuming. At this point, you are really concerned you have made a big mistake hiring her and she can't be salvaged.


You keep hearing reports about her haughty attitude towards others and her condescending way with her fellow team members. You are trying to support Tamara, but the complaints keep coming. Your team has always kind of run itself, and you’ve been extremely busy, so you’ve neglected to keep track of the many detailed complaints you’ve received.


You feel like it’s time to cut Tamara loose, but you now realize you haven’t been sufficiently documenting everything you’ve been told. It seems to you that Tamara should understand that things aren’t going well, and her job is in jeopardy, but you also realize you haven’t been direct with her about all the concerns. Telling your employees unpleasant information is one of your least favorite things to do.


  • Is Tamara truly aware how her actions have been impacting the team?

  • Have you documented any of the conversations you have had with Tamara? How have you documented them?

  • Have you documented the conversations you have had with the other employees? With the clients?

  • Can Tamara potentially turn her performance around?

  • How should this problem be addressed?


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