I have a problem with a direct and I don't know how to handle the situation... I would love some others to share their perspective or suggestions.
Sorry this is going to be lengthy... We work together at an office remote from the main office and any co-workers. She has been with me for about 4 months. I move between the two offices. I'm the GM, she's my bookkeeper. She's somewhat older than me.
She freely heaps encouragement on me, tells others that they should appreciate the great work I do and expresses to me how loyal she is. I have had a lot of difficulty whithin the business so she seems to think I need her visible support. It is sometimes nice (sometimes embarrassing) and I modestly accept her kind words. And I also try and not raise an eyebrown when she gives me advice.
She is very forceful in manner and extremely talkative. She tells me constantly how much of a hard worker she is, how good she is at her job, how important it is to her and how good our relationship is. And also how much alike we are (?).
I have recently started one on ones but hasn't really made much of a positive difference yet. The biggest problem being that our relationship is nowhere near as professional as it should be. I don't need to build a personal relationship, I need to change it to a professional one.
She will often bend my ear for an hour at a time which is making me incredibly unproductive. How can I let this happen? She has some SERIOUS baggage, and the things she tells me are extremely personal. She is going through some huge emotional and mental turmoil and she is using me as her counsellor. Yes, i do care and I have a lot of empathy for her. AND I also want her to do some work and let me do mine! But I can't exactly say, "When you spend hours telling me about your personal issues, and crying on my shoulder, it makes us both unproductive. Can you keep it to yourself in future?" And even so, I'm not at the stage where I'm meant to give adjusting feedback.
Besides that, she has issues with her own remote direct (who is an underperformer) and a remote peer (who has his own serious communication issues which I am desperately trying to manage). She has had several altercations with him to date and has 'put him in his place'. A lot of issues are a result of her showing absolutely no control over her emotions in the workplace.
She completely flipped out at me today for a bit of a gaff on my part. I'm remote at the moment and emailed a request I admit I should have spoken to her on the phone about. The dynamics are so wrong, and there's so much drama being created, I'm feeling compelled to make a significant change to the relationship somehow or to let her go (I think if I gave her negative feedback she would leave). Is this unreasonable?
I'm way out of my depth trying to manage someone with serious mental health issues. By the way, that's not a judgemental comment, it is a fact and I'm very sensitive to it. Having a mental illness isn't the problem, it's her behaviour as a result of her illness that is the problem.