The other day, a British school teacher in
One observer commented that
The problem was this: how could the Sudanese government save face in how they are perceived by western powers and their own, vocal interest groups internally? Several governments put pressure on the Sudanese to let the teacher go. As of this morning, she was convicted of a lesser offense, given 15 days in jail (she had already spent 5 days) and will be deported.
Sometimes we have an employee who challenges the authority of managers, and they have to be dealt with. I once had a situation where I was being challenged, but my bosses – the physicians – had told me that this person was untouchable. Without the support of the board/physicians, I had few options. Persuasion was really my only option. I couldn’t not let her “get” to me – if I did, I would lose, as I had little recourse to impose discipline for the behavior.
This is the lesson here. Take time to think about disciplinary action. You need to act quickly, but you don’t need to act in haste. The Sudanese got into a situation for many reasons that they had to extricate themselves from, and they faced conflicting demands and expectations. They settled for a lesser charge, which included deporting the teacher. To western eyes, the whole situation is absurd. The toy bear was being used in the class for over two months, had been named by the kids with a vote, and none of the parents – educated, middle to upper class – had not complained. It was some other, non-teaching staffer at the school who had made the complaint.
As a manager, sometimes you need to remove a complaining staffer from the scene- take them into your office and talk with them. Unless you are in a position to take the ultimate action, and are willing to do it, remember that if the employee is going to continue working with you, you need to allow them to save face as well. Keep the discussion focused on their behavior, and document what you said and did. Be as objective as possible in describing their behaviors.
Sometimes problem employees can be turned around – I’ve seen it happen. Sometimes, someone is going to be leaving.