Wedding Woes

You need to dial back the coddling and treat her in a more professional manner

Dear Prudence,

I recently became the supervisor of an employee who loves self-deprecating humor. This, combined with high anxiety, makes it difficult for me to know if she’s having a panic attack every time I assign her a task. I’ve tried to explain that it’s difficult for me to trust her with this attitude she has for herself. She continues to panic that she’s going to get fired every time she makes a mistake or thanks me for putting up with her all the time. It’s emotionally exhausting for me to feel like I have to pause my day to make sure she’s OK. I’ve tried giving her specific positive feedback, an employee appreciation prize, and publicly praising her in meetings. How can I be a supportive boss without suggesting she go to therapy or find a job that doesn’t cause her so much distress? She’s been with our company for over a year and her attitude hasn’t changed.

—Endlessly Epinephrinated Employee

Re: You need to dial back the coddling and treat her in a more professional manner

  • I have anxiety, but the place where I have the least anxiety and feel the most competent is my job. I've been praised for being highly productive and also one of the most low-maintenance people to manage (by, like, 4 supervisors).  I feel like I lack so many fucks about my job because I'm good at it and find it almost boring.  My mistakes are few and not egregious.  I'm not saying I don't try at it, but I also recognize that we're not solving the nuclear code and my company could eliminate my position tomorrow.  So, I find this situation so annoying. 

    I know people at my job who act like LW's employee and seeing management coddle them makes me batshit.  Most management 'pets' are thrust upon them because the person is just so damn needy.  

    LW needs to stop worrying about sending this person into a spiral. I almost think work instructions should be given in print if possible, via e-mail, with a request to contact LW if they need assistance or clarification. LW needs to stop babysitting this person on a daily basis.  They've conditioned this person to seek LW's permission/approval/praise constantly.  That's not how doing your job works.  This employee gets paid to do their work. They need to do it. 
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