What Would Shawn Do? Dealing with Employee’s Long Breaks


One of the technicians at our practice takes 30-minute breaks to smoke and talk on her cell phone outside where clients can see her, while everyone else takes 15 minutes in the break room. I’m the practice manager, and I feel this is unprofessional. I’m not sure how to have this conversation without her breaking down and complaining about how other people don’t follow the rules. What should I do?



Address the elephant in the room with direct communication. Employees actually expect to be held accountable to rules and start to mistrust the leadership when the rules are enforced arbitrarily.

You are not responsible for another person “breaking down” if you communicate a problem correctly. If the employee does break down during the conversation, stop the meeting and send the employee home until she can handle having the conversation.

Don’t let her manipulate you into not managing her because she has an emotional response. If the employee can’t tolerate being held accountable, she is not fit for the job.

Good luck!

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