AKA, I am in a relatively new position – basically my dream job – and I am truly loving it. As expected, I am facing new challenges. One of these is managing  two staff members and fostering team spirit. I keep catching one of my team members doing non-work during work hours. She is here part-time  – 5 hours,  three days per week. We are talking playing video games and working on her college papers. What strikes me as most offensive is how unembarrassed she seems to be when I call her out on this.  How do I get her to be more productive? How do I show her the problem and get her to fix it without crushing her spirit and looking like the new mean boss in town??

Crushing her spirit?? WTF? She isn’t trying out for American Idol! She’s getting paid to do work that she isn’t doing. Believe, me, giving it to her straight is the biggest favor you can do for her. She needs to learn. And who the hell cares if she thinks you are mean? She clearly has no respect for you – isn’t that worse?  (nod your head sweetie).

You’re her new boss but you are also clearly new to bossing. There are  challenges but one of them should not be that your staff are insubordinate. They have to do what you ask them to do and if they don’t they have to leave.  It’s that simple.  Where it gets hard is when you throw in nettlesome things like ‘diplomacy’ and ‘employee rights’ and ‘the law.’  The law thing is annoying isn’t it but whatcha’ gonna’ do?  So here’s an easy step-by-step process and if you follow it everything will be fine.  However,  if you start to hear yourself say, (apply whiny, wuss-baggy voice here), ‘Oh, I can’t do that, it’s not my style.’ Or, ‘I’m really much more of a soft touch and don’t want to rock the boat’ then you need to either 1. grow a pair or 2. quit your job you have no business being a manager.  I’m sorry. Did that sound mean? I don’t care.

So here are the steps:

1.  Ask her to step into your office.

2. Tell her calmly and nicely that if you see her doing non-work activities again while at the office, you’ll have to write her up. You are sorry you have to do this but ‘surely she is aware that especially in an hourly position making the most of your work hours is of the highest importance to the department. ‘ Don’t be passive aggressive and say ‘was it just this time?’  or ‘ do you not have enough work to do?’  That’s just silly. Give it to her straight: what she has done that is wrong, what is going to happen next, why it can’t happen again.

3. Ask her if she has any questions. If she counters that ‘the last boss let her do it’ just say, I’m sorry, but it’s no longer allowed. Period. End of story.  You are the boss – you don’t have to reason or negotiate – isn’t that awesome???  Bossing rocks!

4. The next time she does it (and she probably will) write her up. This part is mucho importante because if you fail to follow through it’s all over.  She’ll have even less respect for you than she does now. Following through on threats is an important life skill whether you are a mobster, repo man or mother of small children.

Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. You either learn how to do this now and continue on a successful career trajectory or you spend the rest of your life losing sleep about whether you were ‘too hard on James when he showed up three hours late five days in a row’ or ‘weren’t clear enough with Joan when you told her she couldn’t watch soap operas on her iPhone while at work.’  Your concern for your employee’s feelings already indicates to me that you know better than to make a mountain out of a molehill so don’t even try to use that as an excuse. Employees – especially part-time hourly employees – need to work when they are at work. Be clear. That is the best gift you can give yourself and your employees.

And don’t wait one more day to deal with this my little Chicky Boss, because you’re gonna’ die soon and this is not a thing you should be fretting about.