Janice Lieber, FEI EAP Counselor

“Sore loser” is a term we’re all familiar with. Everyone has encountered an individual who has a hard time conceding defeat or, in other cases, respecting the opinions of others. I personally and professionally believe that learning to compromise—to win or lose a game, argument or even a job—builds character and leads to opportunities for growth.

At some point, we learned we cannot just say whatever is on our mind without expecting consequences. (For example, a person who yells “Fire!” in a crowd when there is no danger will face major repercussions.) We must stop and think about our actions, however unimportant they may seem at the time.

Yet there are employees in the work environment who do not have filters, who say and do whatever comes to mind at that exact moment. Proverbial class clowns are still alive and well in the workplace, as are bullies who deliberately disagree with the majority opinion and go to extremes to make sure everyone in the office knows where they stand.

These co-workers often disagree with colleagues in a public space; raise their voices to sway others to their side of the discussion; do not allow constructive, open discussion, or otherwise close it down; and who pound on tables to make a point. We may all work with someone with these characteristics.

Other employees can be intimidated by, or fearful of, the confrontational nature of certain peers, and human resource managers do hear employee concerns involving the fear associated with inappropriate or frightening behaviors.

Sometimes it is not enough for a manager to talk to confrontational employees about unacceptable verbal or physical behavior. Documentation is an important part of corrective action; if that fails, a mandatory referral can be made in consultation with an account manager.

When an employee displays observable and/or measurable work performance issues or policy violations, a mandated employee assistance program (EAP) referral can be initiated by a manager or human resources representative. Mandatory referrals include telephonic assessment, referral for in-person assessment and counseling, monitoring of compliance and reporting.

Through feedback—provided with the consent of the employee—mandatory referrals assure managers that the employee has been offered an opportunity to address any issues in his or her personal or family life that may be adversely affecting work performance.

Don’t allow disruptive employees to jeopardize your team dynamics. By using the tools available through your EAP, managers can facilitate conversation between co-workers and navigate different employee personalities to foster a more engaged, productive workforce.