When an employee throws a temper tantrum

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(MoneyWatch) Dear Evil HR Lady,
I supervise a group of creatives for an internet business. I have a new addition to the team who is pretty young and 1.5 years into a career. The past month since this employee joined, the rest of the team has had to endure bursts of screams and yelling at the screen from said employee. The team members are getting very irritated and can't handle the "fits of rage" that seem to be an almost daily occurrence. Neither do they enjoy the lack of team play and critical nature of ideas that bounce around the office, and neither can I. The "fits" seem to come from a lack of technical skills, because that is when they actually start.

I have tried to talk to the employee and ask that they quiet down and control themselves to no avail. What ways are available to win the employee over to play for the team and help them learn to calm down and think instead of burst into rage?

Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Do you know why (neurotypical) people throw raging temper tantrums? Because they work.

Yes, I am totally blaming this employees' parents. Somewhere along the line the tantrums that junior threw stopped being cute little 1 year old tantrums and turned into the mess you've got yourself today. Mom and Dad should have stopped giving into him long, long ago.

And they are still working because when he freaks out, he gets attention from the new mom (you) and probably massive attempts to soothe him.

So, stop it.

Your job, tonight, is to sit down and write up a performance improvement plan according to your company guidelines. Talk with HR about it. Make sure your i's are dotted and t's are crossed. Then sit down with the tantrum thrower and the HR person (if HR isn't available, one of your peers.You need a witness.)

Explain that such fits are inappropriate. They are detrimental to the team. That if they continue he will be fired. 

That last part needs to be stunningly clear. This behavior stops or he is out the door. Gone. Adios. There is no farewell party. He is gone. There should be a date in this document that is his last day to work if all the conditions of the performance improvement plan are not met.

I realize this is harsh. But the reality is, this is the real world. And in the real world you can't throw temper tantrums and not experience negative consequences. As the  manager, your job is to build the best team possible. This sometimes means firing. 

You can give him tips and tricks. For instance, when he feels frustrated, he can get up and take a walk around the building. He can go get a drink of water. He can ask for help. But he cannot throw a fit.

Now, the reality is, he may fail miserably and you may have to fire him. Remember that he is bringing this on himself. As an adult, it's his responsibility to learn to control his temper.

I don't suggest a one more fit and he's out the door plan (although I probably would have fired him after the first week of tantrums), but he needs to make reasonable progress as dictated in the performance improvement plan. 

It's also possible that he'll pull himself together and become a great employee. 

Oh, and prepare yourself for a phone call from his mother. The proper response is, "I'm sorry, but he is an adult and I cannot discuss his performance with you." And then you hang up before she says anything else. 

Have a workplace dilemma? Send your questions to EvilHRLady@gmail.com.

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