Ask AmyK

Dear AmyK,

What do you do with an employee who monitors everyone’s trips to the bathroom? One of my team members actually came to me to report that, “Sue just spent twenty-two minutes in the bathroom.” How am I supposed to respond?


Befuddled by Bio Watcher


Dear Befuddled,

One of the best ways to coach a team member through inappropriate behavior is to make them do the heavy lifting…mentally. Turn the tables by asking them questions.

How are you hoping I respond to this information? What are you hoping I do with this information? How might your observing bathroom times be negatively impacting your productivity and use of time? And the reason you are sharing this with me is because…?

It’s important to not encourage the behavior by listening to their story or even asking questions that seek more details about the event.  Instead, ask questions that reveal the “why” behind the behavior.  Is she just a busy-body trying to cause problems, or is she a task-master who wants to make sure people are doing their work and not working on their social media status or improving their Angry Birds score. Or…is your team member just constipated and jealous of everyone else?(Actually, that would be TMI) Once you understand the “why” it’s much easier to address it directly, shift perspective and stop the unwanted behavior.

Two of my favorite questions for coaching in moments just like these are:

  1. What’s the thought behind…(fill in the blank)?
  2. What are you hoping is the result of this conversation?

These two questions help you understand the individual’s choices and desires. From here, it’s much easier to respond appropriately and effectively. In your case, if the proctoring is unwarranted, you can now re-direct. But, if everyone really is trying to beat your high score or tweeting and posting instead of…, by all means thank her and lock the bathroom doors.

[alertbox1 caption=”Disclaimer”]AmyK does not encourage nor accept responsibility for the untoward results of eliminating bathroom breaks. ;-)[/alertbox1]

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