Characteristics that she saw in both employees: Basically, they were both bullies. Both employees were looking for constant attention, had to be "right" and would argue the point no matter how trivial. They intimated other employees, used inappropriate language and created a very unpleasant atmosphere for everyone.
I am purposely protecting the identity of this CEO and her company, but she has so much wisdom that I would be amiss in not sharing it with you. I asked her what solutions she would suggest for situations like this.
These are her answers: "As a CEO, I am responsible for ensuring that the work environment is productive and safe (from gossip, intimidation and clutter). In hindsight and with more experience under my belt, I would have acted quicker and fired Employee A much sooner. That would be my advice to another CEO.
"The situation does not get better with time or repeated discussions. I require a professional appearance, organized workstations and respect for other employees and their opinions and ideas. I have 18 employees and we have all worked very hard to achieve these goals. I have found that phone etiquette improved as a result of dressing professionally. This translated to a more confident and helpful voice when answering the phone. We also have fewer mistakes because the workstations are organized. Less time is spent searching for paperwork.
"Putting a policy in writing and having each employee sign that they have read the policy is important. When there is a need for discussion, I refer to the policy that they have signed and I don't have to spend time fretting about these unpleasant conversations. Some of the items I have written refer to cell phone use, personal e-mails, food at the desk, and that kind of thing. I will be working on a handbook with a professional HR company that will cover much more than my policy."
DIANA OLSON, MA AICI CIP, is an image stylist/etiquette and civility specialist. Reach her at http://www.dianaolson.com or (626) 584-9761.