Q: I am a human resources professional (independent contractor) who was offered the full-time position of HR director, but I politely refused because I prefer working as an independent contractor. As such, I was given full control to interview and hire HR professionals for the company. For an unexplained reason, the president interviewed and hired a woman to be the director; during her interview trip to the company, I had only a brief conversation with her. He asked me to train her and introduce her to all the department heads. In the period of two months, she has alienated absolutely everyone. She has also told me to my face that she dislikes me. She hates everyone, sees everything as black or white and cannot negotiate middle ground. She is also a conniving liar, and her staff is afraid of her.
While I was out of the office, she told the IT department head I had left the company so he should forward all my email to her. I discovered this when I returned, and I had to explain it to the head of IT to undo what she had done. Now he, too, knows she is deceitful. She even defies the president's instructions, requests and orders. He told her to plan a goodbye party for me, which she ignored, refusing to invite anyone.
Here's the major problem. I suspected she had a serious personality problem when I first met her, and she never would have passed my thorough interviewing process, had I been given more than a brief conversation with her. The president is unable to handle confrontations of any kind. He is a super nice guy that just wants everyone to get along. Now, he is saddled with her and wants me to handle the problem but is terrified of firing her.
A: The president's lack of strong leadership is a problem, but his inability to allow you to do what is necessary will be your problem if you attempt to resolve it within his constraints. Though it is not necessarily helpful to offer an armchair psychological diagnosis of anyone, it is clear to see this woman has a major personality problem. It's quite an accomplishment to "hate" all the people she has met within the first two months of employment and to offend them so dramatically that they return the same sentiment.
If the president wants you handle the situation, he must give you the authority to do whatever is necessary. To protect the company's liability and your own, consult with its in-house legal department or its outside legal counsel to ensure the company will not be violating any employment agreement she may have signed if you choose to terminate her. Companies that skip the due diligence regret it when they are presented with a wrongful termination lawsuit. Once you obtain the legal approval and documentation to fire her, it would be most helpful to hire a degreed and licensed psychologist (Ph.D.) to meet with her to explain her dismissal, with you as a witness. Review with the psychologist the complaints each employee has related to HR so the doctor will have as complete a record as possible before meeting with her.
Also review the entire process, step by step with the president. If he is not 100 percent on board with the process and the protection you are requiring, thank him for the opportunity to continue working for him but refuse the assignment. He surely doesn't realize his weakness caused the problem, so no matter how great your fee will be, it will not be worth the trouble without his full support.
Email career and life coach [email protected] with your workplace issues and experiences. For more information, visit www.lindseyparkernovak.com and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.