I love my job. I work with at risk youth during the school year; teaching soft skills and preparing students for their next steps in life

During the summer myself and my two colleagues facilitate an internship for the students.
One of my coworkers has been in her role for three years now and does a good job. My other coworker, we'll call her Rosie (not her real name) is the problem.

  • Sucks on her teeth constantly
  • Talks to herself constantly
  • She sings to herself consistently
  • Douses herself in heavily scented lotion often
  • sits on her phone in front of the class or even doodle on her hand/arm.
  • Is a terrible public speaker/ facilitator
  • Will self deprecate when she gets off track (not good with at risk youth)
  • Uses irrelevant references with students

This causes a lack of respect and disengagement from students

My manager is aware of what he considers "personality challenges.", but despite me bringing my concern to him that I believe that she poses a credibility threat to our program, he feels as if he does not have grounds / cause to take action.

Beyond that he has asked that I take a leadership / mentor type role with her. I cannot manage my responsibilities and her and my sanity. I do not feel that this is my responsibility to manage. My manager is somewhat absent from this.

I haven't confronted her with these issues because I do not have the confidence that she has the maturity to handle objective workplace criticism.


  1. To restore the credibility of our program that Rosie has damaged when I fell that she does not posses the ability to be a contributing member of this team and should be removed.
  2. To find a way to work with the challenges of her personality if she is not going to be removed


  • How to engage my manager into dealing with the issues directly?
  • If my manager continues to be "hands off" what should my next step be as far as recruiting help with this situation?
  • How do I defend the childlike behavior to our partners/ teachers / students Rosie is exposed to?
  • How do I make sure I preserve my professionalism throughout this experience?
  • Are there any resources I can point Rosie or my manager towards to help with these issues?

closed as too broad by Masked Man, scaaahu, paparazzo, DarkCygnus, dwizum Apr 13 '18 at 12:50

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Is mentoring her not to suck on her teeth and make irrelevant references really more challenging than mentoring troubled teens? Follow-up question; would YOU really want to continue working in an organisation where the minor personality flaws of Rosie's that you have described are firing offences? I know I wouldn't. – Jonathon Cowley-Thom Apr 12 '18 at 15:11

You have been asked to take on a leadership / mentor role, so do it.

You have a one-to-one with that employee, and in that one-to-one you tell her what the problems are, and ask her what she wants to do to improve. That may come as a total surprise to her, which is probably healthy for her. You can also tell her that if there is no improvement, you will recommend that a replacement should be hired.

From that day on, everytime she acts unprofessionally, you pull her up on it and tell her what needs to change. Of course, every time that her behaviour improves you must also tell her that. The goal should be to get a better employee.

PS. Read your update, so your problem is solved :-( Your manager should really think hard about his or her role in this sad affair, because this employee (Rosie) worked for much too long unchecked, with bad consequences for everyone involved.

  • 3
    I think you can even add some bold on the part where you say "don't forget to tell her when she improvies" that's really important. – Walfrat Apr 12 '18 at 12:00

As the OP describes it, it does not seem the program is getting its money's worth - and the manager seems to be attempting to pass on an unpleasant task.

Since arguments based on what is good for the team (or the youth) seem to have fallen on deaf ears, perhaps the only option left is focusing personally on the manager. In other words, how can the manager be personally 'squeezed'.

Is the manager/department/team under any kind of budget or pressure to meet certain goals? If so, the manager at some point in time will have to defend decisions made (or not made).

I'm guessing team members are not easily replaced (as Rosie then presumably no longer would be there) - which might be the reason she is kept on. If you believe another approach to recruiting would yield more and better candidates, you could inform your manager.

Perhaps the real problem is that the manager regards Rosie as an 'at-risk youth' - or at least a 'vulnerable person' and as such feels it is the team's duty to assist her as well. If so, fixing that situation will probably involve applying intense pressure by your colleague and yourself, thus forcing the manager to choose between keeping Rosie (and failing the youth) or cutting her loose.

  • Our success is measured by attrition rate. All three of us on the team function as case workers for the students. Rosie (who has only been with the company 6 weeks) has already seen an attrition rate of 10% of her students. In addition we have seen a spike in absenteeism when she facilitates. The students have this information on a syllabus. – J_DC1122 Apr 13 '18 at 0:44
  • Team members are difficult to replace and I do believe it contributes to my managers reluctance to take action. I recognize that my manager sees a need to nurture and cultivate Rosie in her professional career. He is taking this on but not contributing in anyway. – J_DC1122 Apr 13 '18 at 0:59
  • On the other hand, having only been there six weeks is significant information. In that light, I believe you should give mentoring a shot as suggested in the accepted answer. – morsor Apr 13 '18 at 7:05

Do you have objective reason to say "This causes a lack of respect and disengagement from students"?

A person like that might, on a different level, connect very well with the clientele you describe, especially if she embodies both (weaknesses shared with the students, strengths shared with the teachers). She can be one of them AND one of you. Make use of it.

  • We have observed a spike in absenteeism on days listed on the syllabus as her days to speak. She has already seen an attrition rate of her students of 10% vs 0% for myself and my other coworker. I see the logic of the possibilities of stronger connections with our students but it has not materialized to date. The challenge with her being “one of the and one of us” is the threat to credibility in the meantime. Time is a factor. – J_DC1122 Apr 13 '18 at 1:11

Thank you all for your contributions. Rosie was let go today. Security protocols at high schools have become very scrutinized recently. When we checked in today at one of our schools, she checked in under the name Edgar Allen Poe. This was day one of a school that we had worked for two years to get into. We were told we would no longer be welcomed in that school. My manager took action.

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