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