When I started this post earlier my initial thoughts were to write about the negative employee on staff. I realized that as I continued to write, I kept referring to the negative employee as the paranoid employee. While you can argue that many of their character traits go hand in hand, I believe that it is their paranoia that drives the manager crazier than any negativity trait.
The paranoid employee tends have those negative qualities that we all despise as managers. They usually can rally the troops into thinking that your reading all of their emails and that the corporate office has a wire tap on their phone. If you are forced to make structural changes to the company then they will be in the break room letting everyone know that they saw this coming and that there are for sure more changes to be made, so everyone take cover!
The fascinating issue with the paranoid employee is that they usually tend to be very good at their job. Somehow this paranoia trait drives them into always being into work on time, working hard while they are there and never taking their job for granted. I’ve seen this paranoia in many forms and it tends to keep them close to the office on vacation days and plugged into their phone should they be out for an extended period of time.
When the paranoia trait begins to overtake them is when this employee goes through a series of bad months on the job. Maybe they haven’t hit quota in a while or they failed miserably on a recent project management job. Whatever the case, if the paranoid employee isn’t firing on all cylinders then the downward spiral can be horrendous.
As a manager it is your job to keep the paranoid employee in check. You have to be the bumper guard rails in the bowling lane and prevent them from ever getting a gutter ball. You need to be there to make sure this paranoia doesn’t overtake them and that you re-assure them that they are a valuable asset to the staff (if they are). Without your support, the paranoid employee will find a way to dig themselves into a ditch that they don’t know how to get out and the blame will start to be pointed in every which direction. Specifically it will be pointed to the person in the office that they think is wanting their job.
One way to avoid allowing the paranoid employee to go on this spiral is to make sure they are in the loop on major changes in the office that will affect them. If you are planning a major structural change that will have an adverse affect on this individual then bring them into your office and warn them ahead of time. Talk to the employee about how this change will work for them, and the office, and why you want them to be aware of it.
By embracing the paranoid employee you will keep their mind at ease and keep them on task without allowing them to bring down the rest of the staff. (or the world, Google search Edward Snowden)