Dangerous Territory: Your Office

Wednesday - 4/15/2009, 4:00am EDT

I once worked at a place (a newspaper) where one of the printers, angry with management, dressed as a Nazi stormtrooper and then spent his lunch half hour standing in front of our building. Several passersby missed his point. He got punched out several times. But he hung in there for a couple of months.

Yet another coworker became a connoisseur of religions. We could sometimes tell his faith de jour by the way he dressed. He wore orthodox garb from various religions: yellow robes and sandals, etc. Once, for about a month he came in wearing a monk's cassock. And carrying a shepherd's staff. But no sheep. They made him put the staff near the coat rack, but otherwise said nothing.

By the same token I once knew a government administrative assistant whose boss wanted her to massage his neck (she did once) and who tried repeatedly to get her to put drops in his ears which she said looked like a miniature Sherwood Forest.

An IRS employee says the man in a nearby cubicle makes strange animal noises all day long. "Sometimes he just sighs, but he will also grunt like a pig and make a braying sound like a mule. He's clearly got a problem but it's becoming our problem as well," she said.

A fellow worker here at WFED said she once failed to repair a cassette resulting in 40 seconds of dead air. Her boss (the on-air host) bawled her out over the radio, and then threw the cassette at her head. She quit.

Strange? Cruel and unusual behavior or punishment?

Weird, maybe. Unusual. Not so much.

In fact, one of the biggest problems facing managers, federal or private sector, is disruptive or potentially dangerous employees.

On the flip side, a major problem for both industry and government, is wacky bosses.

An outfit called the Corporate Leadership Council recently studied 23 job factors to determine the reasons people quit their jobs. According to them it's not money, lack of training or the job itself. It's the boss.

In their book Love 'em or Lose 'em authors Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans looked at 60,000 exit interviews and concluded that 8 of 10 employees leave to escape a bad boss.

And being a bad boss can mean not taking care of bad employees or allowing an intolerable work environment to continue.

So how do you deal with a problem employee or boss?

That's what we're going to tackle today on our Your Turn with Mike Causey radio show.

Susan Grundmann, general counsel of the National Federation of Federal Employees will give us some tips. On the flip side of the situation, Senior Executive Association general counsel Bill Bransford talks about dealing with the problem employee.

The show is live from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. EDT., and you can listen on your computer at www.federalnewsradio.com or in the DC area at WFED AM 1500. We'll hear from specialists in handling what can be the ultimate HR problem, making your work life miserable and costing the taxpayers money. Listen if you can, call in if you like.

And if you got questions, comments or your own weird employee/crazy boss story, ship it to me at: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

LiveScience.com reports that getting a promotion increases the likelihood of serious health problems. "British researchers found that when people get promoted, they suffer on average about 10 percent more mental strain and are less likely to find the time to go to the doctor."

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com