One of my employees doesn't know when to stop talking. When chatting with co-workers, "Carly" goes on at great length without any consideration for their time. Her colleagues say they feel trapped in these conversations, but don't know how to leave without being rude. As a result, they now avoid interacting with Carly. Mentioning these complaints will upset Carly; how do I resolve this?
Actually, your entire team could benefit from some coaching on this topic. Though Carly needs to curb her excessive chatter, her long-suffering colleagues must become more assertive. Instead of shunning her, which will only hurt feelings and damage relationships, they should learn how to appropriately end conversations.
During a staff meeting, introduce this issue without mentioning any complaints. Say that although you value friendly relationships, you believe time spent on personal chatting has gotten out of hand. Suggest employees can politely excuse themselves from protracted discussions by explaining they must get back to work.
Having publicly broached the subject, you are now ready for a private talk with Carly. For example, "Carly, as I mentioned yesterday, I'm concerned about the problem of excessive socializing. Your outgoing personality is a real strength, but I need you to work on keeping conversations short. Let's discuss some strategies that might help."
Assess Carly's progress and provide additional coaching as needed. If colleagues still complain about her verbosity, remind them an acceptable exit line is, "I've enjoyed chatting, but I have work to do."
Marie G. McIntyre, is a workplace coach and author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics." Get free coaching tips at yourofficecoach.com.