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LeadingEdition: E-Newsletter for Purdue University Supervisors

Employee Relations case study:
Encouraging teamwork in your area


Sami Smith has worked for Purdue as a secretary for two years. Her performance evaluations during that time have met expectations. The evaluation meetings over the past two years have mentioned that she struggles at times with teamwork. Each time Sami agrees to work on this area, but she also states that her co-workers are out to get her and that she works best alone.

You have received the following complaints about Sami:

Last Wednesday, a co-worker approached Sami at her desk to ask a question. Sami stood up, shoved in her chair, and stated that she was in the middle of a project and didn�t have time to answer any questions.

Yesterday, a manager asked Sami to correct errors on a report she submitted. Sami curtly remarked that if she didn�t get interrupted all the time, she would not have to waste time to redo the report.

As the director, how should you handle this situation? Follow the steps below to manage the matter professionally and considerately.

Meet individually with the co-workers and Sami to obtain their side of the situations in which Sami allegedly acted inappropriately.

Meet with Sami to let her know how her tone, approach, and attitude impact co-workers and the effect her actions have on the entire team. Discuss specifics of recent situations and how they could have been handled more appropriately.

Let Sami know you are aware she has stated she works best alone, but the team needs each player and her role is important. Stress the importance of the work group�s past successes and your hope for strong future performance.

Reinforce to Sami that aside from her teamwork score on her evaluations, other areas of her performance have always been very good and she is an important part of the work team.

Establish written expectations for Sami�s behavior. Sami needs to know exactly what is acceptable and what will not be tolerated as a member of the team.

Discuss any hidden issues as to why this behavior is occurring.

Let Sami know that you will follow up in 45 days to review her progress. Reiterate your confidence in her capability to make the necessary changes.

- Amy Boyle, human resources specialist
Housing and Food Services Human Resources

Gold rule

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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.