Ambushed By A Hidden Personality? Ask Madeleine

Dear Madeleine,

I manage a large retail chain store and have been in the job about four years. Up until now, I thought I knew what I was doing.

I recently promoted an excellent worker to a supervisory position—and now I seriously regret it. All of a sudden, it’s like she is a different person.

She seems to be having delusions of grandeur and drunk with power. Every day there is a new disaster: most recently, she gave someone personal feedback that caused a storm of tears and then she somehow offended one of our vendors. She walks around the store as if she is trying to catch people doing something wrong so that she can yell at them.

I am shocked at this transformation. She used to be a stable, soft spoken, low key person. I feel I have unleashed a demon. I have promoted others with great success, but I am stunned and befuddled with this one.


Dear Stunned,

Oh, I am sorry for you. Ambushed by a hidden personality—it is so unnerving. You must move very fast and nip this in the bud by going at it head on. You can let her go right now or you can give her a second chance. If you decide to give her another chance, be sure to be clear, concise, and direct.

Because you are a well balanced, sane professional, you expect others to be as well. Clearly, you thought the rules were obvious—but in this case you will need to make them explicit.

For example:

  • No yelling
  • No getting personal
  • No name calling
  • Correct the behavior, not the person
  • Be kind

Make a list of every behavior she exhibits that is not working, and pair each with an example. Give her absolutely clear, step-by-step directions on the behaviors you want to see instead.

For example:

“When you observed Mary stocking the hiking boots in the wrong row, you started yelling about her inability to do anything right. I request that you simply, kindly redirect employees and correct mistakes without insulting them.”

Make it clear that you won’t tolerate meanness, a loose cannon, or a short fuse.

Give her only a short period of time to turn it around. Keep a record of every infraction and give her feedback each time. Let her know when she is down to her last chance and, if she crosses the line, let her go immediately. Your people will respect you all the more for it and will thank you.

Love Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Blanchard

Madeleine Homan-Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!

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