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How to Deal with an Employee Who Is Making You Ill

The names change, but the behaviors are the same. Anyone who has managed a staff for any length of time has likely encountered the toxic employee who makes everyone he or she meets miserable, particularly the manager. Most managers are unprepared and frequently under-supported by their bosses and organizations for this situation. It becomes a demoralizing drain on everyone’s energy and has caused more than a few managers to jump ship for a contributor role. Here’s some guidance for coping with an employee who is making you ill.

If you find yourself walking on eggshells, something is wrong. Toxic employees are masters of making everyone around them tread cautiously. They understand the impact they have on others and bare their fangs at the first sign of a challenge. Coworkers and managers accustomed to dealing with generally decent people find themselves avoiding or walking softly around the toxic employee hoping to avoid an ugly confrontation. Of course, the toxic coworker knows this and plays it for all it’s worth. And the situation lingers.

Quickly move from defense to offense. Your instinct is to attempt to calm the beast through excessive and unwarranted kindness and positive feedback. It’s...

How Setting 'Anti-Goals' Can Keep Work From Being Miserable

If you’re lucky, you have a job you love. But even if you do—and particularly if you do not—there will be elements about it you hate. Be it awful bosses, obnoxious coworkers, or brutal commutes, almost everyone’s workday has elements they can do without.

One strategy for improving the work experience is to identify the aspects you least like about it, and deliberately avoid them. By creating a list of “anti-goals,” you can develop strategies for eliminating them from your life, Andrew Wilkinson, a tech entrepreneur, wrote on Medium.

Wilkinson, founder of startups MetaLab and Flow, said he was inspired by Charlie Munger, the business partner of Warren Buffett, who talks about inversion, or reversing problems to solve them. “A lot of success in life and business comes from knowing what you want to avoid: early death, a bad marriage, etc.,” Munger said at an investors meeting in 2000.

Or as Buffett said, “Charlie and I have not learned how to solve difficult business problems. What we have learned is to avoid them.”

Wilkinson and his business partner Chris Sparling mapped out what their worst possible day might look like. The anti-goals included:

  1. Full of long...

State Department Relied on Bad Data for Considering Clearance Times, Cost

The State Department’s inspector general recently released an evaluation of the department’s security clearance process. The verdict? Officials can only loosely estimate the time it takes to process clearances, and they don’t track the costs.

State has been reporting its processing times to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and is one of seven intelligence agencies required to do so by the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act. But the IG’s audit of those reports “identified a number of errors, making it impossible for [the Office of Inspector General] to determine the actual amount of time it takes to process clearances at the department.”

The report also found that State hasn’t analyzed how much it spends on investigations. Despite being required by law to ensure security clearances are processed in a “cost-effective manner” and report these costs to the ODNI, the department currently has no analysis, and gathers no information on the costs related to its security clearance program.

The OIG report began in September 2016, and was specifically meant to address the accuracy of the data the Department was submitting to ODNI, the extent of security clearance processing delays, and the costs associated with...

How Guilt Can Hold Back Good Employees

People with a tendency to feel guilty for disappointing their coworkers are among the most ethical and hard-working people to work with. However, these highly guilt-prone people may be the most reticent to enter into partnerships.

By understanding this phenomenon, managers can make the best decisions about team-building and increase productivity.

Highly guilt-prone people—people with a strong dispositional tendency to feel guilty for wrongdoings—make valuable work partners because their concern about letting others down drives them to complete at least their fair share of the work.

“Because of this concern for the impact of their actions on others’ welfare, highly guilt-prone people often outwork their less guilt-prone colleagues, demonstrate more effective leadership, and contribute more to the success of the teams and partnerships in which they are involved,” explains study coauthor Scott S. Wiltermuth, assistant professor of management and organization at the USC Marshall School of Business.

Avoiding guilt

In five studies, Wiltermuth and Taya R. Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University found that highly guilt-prone people may avoid forming interdependent partnerships with people they perceive to be more competent than themselves, because benefiting a partner less than the partner benefits them could trigger feelings of guilt.

“It may...

When Amazon Meets Government

Imagine simply flipping open your laptop, firing up your desktop computer or popping open an app on your mobile phone to order office supplies, equipment, or even contract services Amazon-style, two-day delivery included.

That day may not be too far off if a provision in the House version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act makes it into law.

The prospects for commercial online marketplaces in government got a lift in mid-July, when Alan Thomas, the Trump administration’s new chief of the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service, gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up to the proposal that his agency engage online marketplaces for all agencies to use.

The idea is ensconced in the House-passed version of the 2018 NDAA, which contains policy and suggested budget toplines for the Pentagon. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the bill does not include the online marketplace provision, and it awaits a full Senate vote in September, after the August congressional recess.

The marketplace provision leads Section 801 of the House NDAA and originally was introduced as separate legislation by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas. His version was Defense-only, but, in committee that vision was enlarged to encompass...