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Five truly troublesome characters to watch out for in your workplace

With supermarkets stocking up for Halloween, it’s hard to ignore the theme associated so closely with this time of year. But we know that it’s possible to get a fright at any time when a troublesome character causes havoc at work.

To help you keep your business a fright-free zone, we have listed the top five most wanted offenders and their characteristics below. Plus how to approach dealing with them. Don’t be deterred by their seemingly unapproachable nature. Stop them in their tracks and remember we’re on call to assist.

The zombie

A zombie will turn up for work, because if nothing else, they are good at walking from A to B no matter what gets in the way. But when they arrive, they are not exactly ready to work and certainly don’t look presentable. They appear to have been woken from a deep sleep and have not quite recovered. Or they could have been awake for hours and are powering through, sleepwalking back and forth to the coffee machine and mumbling. They will make it through the day, but with minimal effort, focus and concentration, wasting both your time and theirs.

Most people run and hide when they see a zombie, but that’s not going to help in this situation. There’s work to be done and you need to break the zombie curse to find out what’s going on with this employee. If it’s a one-off bad night’s sleep, this can happen. But you should try to find out if something more serious is going on and if you can help. However, if the problem is self-inflicted, let them know that this behaviour is unacceptable and consult us for backup.

The ghost

There one day, gone the next. Ghosts are known for having terrible attendance records. They somehow accept meeting invitations yet fail to show when you need them the most. Customers ask for them, so you know they’ve been sighted at some point. But their presence is so unpredictable you’re beginning to wonder if they even work for you anymore.

This is a difficult situation. But before you start Googling the Ghost Hunter, we have a few tricks up our sleeves to help. Firstly, make sure you record any absences. Secondly, call them into a meeting the next time you see them to investigate their poor attendance. If they are absent without leave, call them each day and as a last resort, send a letter to their home address to let them know their job is at risk.

The werewolf

Tread carefully with this one. Something doesn’t go their way and they quickly transform into an unreasonable and vicious being. Unable to control their emotions, a werewolf will let anger get the better of them and they can lose all sense of rationale. Shouting, slamming objects and making threats are the warning signs of an attack. And if it’s before lunchtime, be extra cautious, as their fury could be tenfold.

Make no mistake, werewolf tantrums do not belong in your business. This sort of behaviour is looming towards a disciplinary or gross misconduct and needs to be addressed asap. Get them into a private room to protect other employees from the scene. Coherent conversations are not easy when emotions are running high, so try to get them to calm down before getting to the bottom of what just happened. If you can’t reach a resolution, send them home and arrange a formal meeting at the next available opportunity.

The clown

We’re not talking about the kid’s party kind, although they too can be scary to some. This clown is the one that cracks jokes at the expense of others, goes for a cheap laugh by playing pranks and wears a wry smile that suggests they’re up to no good. They are more dangerous than they first seem, because they encourage others to follow suit and can make a laughingstock of management. They’re usually highly skilled, that’s one of the reasons you hired them. But boredom fuels their need for disruption and your workforce is their very own captive audience.

This is no laughing matter, and challenging to say the least. But we like a challenge and believe that with good management this sort of energy can be channelled in the right way. Training your senior staff to deal with unruly behaviour and to hold difficult conversations can keep business as usual and help you to get the most out of employees.

The illusionist

Charming their way through the working day, an illusionist knows how to make an impression. The trompe l’oeil or trick of the eye is their speciality and they’re usually keen to show off and boast about their hard work with magnificent results. But behind the smoke and mirrors lies a very different story. Their triumph has come as a result of a less vocal, hard-working colleague. The dominant character has come up trumps whilst your hard worker is not getting the recognition they deserve.

This charade won’t last for long and can unravel in a worrying way. To avoid being won over by illusions, implement a robust review process to monitor employee performance. Conduct regular 121s and be sure to consider all work involved in addition to results achieved. If it transpires an employee has been taking the credit for someone else’s work, an investigation with possible disciplinary hearing is required.

Who you gonna call?

Whenever you come across a troublesome character amongst your staff, there is only one number you need to call. Our HR Solution service provides unlimited HR support. So get in touch when trouble arises.