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LeadingEdition: E-Newsletter for Purdue University Supervisors

Employee Relations case study: Handling a social secretary

Jenny has been a secretary in your office for seven years. The atmosphere in the office is relaxed and friendly, and staff often refer to it as one big family. Everyone gets along and seems to like each other. Over the last year, though, you have noticed that Jenny spends a lot of time taking personal calls on her cell phone, and chatting with clientele and the other secretary about non-work subjects. The other two managers have both complained to you that they think it�s beginning to interfere with the productivity of the office.

Jenny has received an overall performance rating of �Exceeds Expectations� over the past three years. Jenny is sometimes overly sensitive, so you are not sure how she will react to your addressing the situation.

As Jenny�s manager, how should you handle this situation?

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Meet with the other managers to get specifics on the effect Jenny�s talkative behavior is having on the office needs. Evaluate the specifics to determine expectations to be discussed with Jenny.

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Meet with Jenny and begin the discussion about her behavior:

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Remind Jenny that she is a valued member of the team.

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Point out that you don�t want to be a micromanager and that you trust employees to balance personal and work time.

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State that when personal time at work begins to interfere with productivity of the office, it must be addressed.

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Provide specific examples of how Jenny�s behavior has impacted productivity.

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Establish performance expectations.

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Discuss any underlying issues as to why the behavior is occurring, such as too little workload, not enough challenges, etc.

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Let Jenny know that you will trust her to use her judgment to correct the situation on her own at this point, and reiterate your confidence in her performance. Reinforce that Jenny has always been an above-average performer and that you are certain this recent issue will be corrected.

- Kathy VanPaemel
Employee Relations consultant

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LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors.  It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually.  If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us.  Thank you.