How to handle an employee Pity Party

pity-party-500x330How do you handle it when an employee or direct report comes to you and gives this long sob story? It may sound something like this:

  • “I really don’t feel good today. My stomach has been killing me all night. I hope I can make it through the day.”
  • “I’ve got a lot going on. My family is bla bla bla. I will try my best to not let it affect me today.”
  • “My back is killing me. I hope its okay, but I just plan on taking it kinda easy this morning.”

Leaders see this everyday and it brings productivity to a screeching halt.  That person still wants to be paid for the day but doesn’t want to be held accountable to quality work.  Not only does this stifle productivity but it poisons morale because misery leaks. Don’t kid yourself by thinking they won’t tell everyone who will listen their not so unique pity party and drag them down the hole with them.  For the organization, it’s like driving around with the emergency brake on. Next thing you know if you let them slide with the lack luster behavior more and more people will start slacking because it’s acceptable.

How to handle it:

When you hear a pity party just ask, “Do you need to go home/to the doctor?”

If they say they do, document it and send them.

If they say “no I think I can’t make it through” say,

“Good. Well if your going to be here I need you to work. I understand your situation but it’s not fair to me, your coworkers and our customers for you to slack off. I’d rather you be hot or cold. Luke warm won’t cut it. Put this issue in the parking lot and focus on your work today. You can go back to feeling bad later just not now. Fair enough?”

If they complain again either send them home or assign them additional task. The whining will stop.

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4 thoughts on “How to handle an employee Pity Party

  1. ashokbhatia says:

    Often, it is possible to figure out which one is a sob story and which one is a genuine case!

  2. LOL, when Mr. T was younger, he learned really fast that needless complaining earned extra chores. I’m a big believer in getting the job done, and when you spend more time complaining that it would actually take to just do it, then I have issues – the assigning extra work is a favorite of mine! 🙂

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