While I am not an expert in human resources, I have learned that hiring and firing are both important aspects of the business process. I often take notes of my work experiences to remember these events and to evaluate my decisions in the future with the knowledge gained from more experience.

To me, a negative personality is characterized by low self-expectations but high expectations of others, and a tendency to blame others for any issues that arise. Additionally, if others are in a higher position than them, they may have a hostile attitude towards them.

Recently, an incident happened in our team that bothered me and my wife (who is also my colleague) for several days. My wife had been saying that one of the staff’s behavior had changed, and it seemed that she was upset about something at work, but she did not say anything until one Thursday evening when we returned home, and my wife received a 30-minute voicemail from this lady. She could not express her discomfort with us face-to-face, and the message she sent was very rude and insulting, repeating all her words three times.

I need to go back a bit and explain our thoughts about this person and her work situation.

The characteristics of this person were that during the year that we worked with her, we were completely satisfied with her performance in 95% of cases. She had an organized and diligent personality and was never lazy. We trusted her completely and were sure of her commitment to the organization. We didn’t need to remind her of her tasks and goals as she was self-motivated and took responsibility for her work.

However, there were some activities that she wasn’t interested in doing, and even though we asked her to do them several times, she avoided accepting them. As we were generally satisfied with her performance, we didn’t have any problems with this. This person was completely content with her work until a month ago, and apart from one challenge we faced together, there were no problems between us.

Regarding the negative personality traits mentioned above, this woman had a negative personality. Every day during her commutes with the metro, bus, etc., she faced challenges with others and would bring these challenges up in everyday conversations

This woman was employed as a packaging and warehouse staff, and her salary was in accordance with labor laws (plus social security insurance). We experience high work pressure mostly on Saturdays and Mondays, but the workload decreases significantly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Since the work was finished earlier on some days, we allowed her to leave earlier. The amount of work she did was 5 to 7 hours less than the legal requirement, but we still considered her to have fulfilled her full working hours. Even on days when the workload was significantly low, we would message her before she came to the office, letting her know that she didn’t need to show up because there was no work to be done. She never stayed in the workplace longer than the scheduled hours, and we granted her approximately 10 days of paid leave each season.

The day this woman (let’s call her Ms. N) sent us this message, we were surprised. It seemed that she was dissatisfied with her job and salary for the entire year, found the working conditions challenging, and believed that the work she did was equivalent to two people, not one, so she should receive twice the salary. If she didn’t get paid double, she wouldn’t be willing to continue working in our company, and we would have to hire someone else. In this voice message, she also mentioned that she had leg and back pain due to the high workload on Saturdays and Mondays and that we were responsible for compensating her for this. She also believed that she was doing most of the business activities and that we were unfair employers who had taken advantage of her for a year by paying her less than the amount of work she did.

Where did the dissatisfaction originate?

In mid-December, after this person returned from a 10-day paid vacation, we decided to hire more staff. I informed Ms. N that we had new responsibilities for her in the coming year, and her salary would be doubled. I assured her not to worry about her salary, and that she would receive a bonus in the coming year. Two weeks later, when she asked about her new tasks, I explained that I was still reviewing the matter and had not reached a conclusion yet.

We advertised a new job (executive manager) on various websites, with a salary almost three times that of Ms. N’s.

After a few days of investigation, I concluded that Ms. N’s current activities were sufficient, and there was no need to assign her new responsibilities. I communicated this to her, but she misinterpreted it and thought that without new responsibilities, she wouldn’t get a salary increase. However, she did not ask us about this until she could no longer tolerate it and left a 30-minute voicemail expressing her dissatisfaction.

Initially, my spouse suggested that she be fired, but I insisted that we take more time to review the matter. I messaged her and asked why she didn’t express her dissatisfaction earlier and clarified that her salary would be increased without any change in responsibilities.

However, I faced a challenge. If we allowed this behavior to continue, it could spread to other employees who might engage in similar behavior to increase their salaries or benefits. What guarantee did we have that this person wouldn’t request a salary increase again after three months?

To gain some perspective, I consulted an experienced business consultant who spoke about the negative personalities and the severe negative effects they could have on the business. The consultant recommended that we fire this employee.

After this consultation, my spouse and I agreed to inform this person that she could no longer continue working with us after the end of her contract, which was only two months away. We cited legal issues and potential problems that could arise through labor administration, as firing the employee was not possible. We also allowed her to take one day off per week with pay to attend job interviews at other companies.

When Ms. N heard this, she was shocked. She apologized for her behavior with teary eyes and explained that she had sent the message because she was upset about issues outside the company. While my response was firm that there was no possibility of continuing the collaboration, my spouse was doubtful and said that we would reconsider the decision.

In the coming days, Ms. N’s behavior caused toxicity among colleagues. Her bad behavior, gossiping about us and our business to other employees, and more led my wife to be determined to fire her. After fourteen days, one morning, this person did not show up at the company and announced that she was unable to continue working due to a foot injury, and our collaboration came to an end.

Lessons I Learned from this Incident:

1- Even a short period of inequality can lead to a change in behavior and loyalty, even for someone who has been satisfied with the work environment for a long time.

2- Toxic individuals can quickly create a volatile organizational environment and disrupt the entire business.

3- When announcing decisions to employees, the message should be clear and transparent to eliminate any doubts in the minds of employees.

By Reza

Leave a Reply