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I hope I have posted this in the right area and would appreciate your thoughts.


I am Leader at a village pre-school and was interviewing today along with my personnel officer. Due to restrictions in our setting we were in the kitchen with the door shut. A member of staff had to come in and knocked before she did. Another member of staff threw the door open and marched in saying 'I've got to get the milk'. My personnel officer apologised to the candidate and explained the restrictions. After the candidate had gone she spoke to the member of staff explaining she thought it was rude and she should've knocked first. The member of staff retorted that she had a job to do etc etc. She then picked her stuff up and walked out. The personnel officer then told me what had happened and said I need to speak to this member of staff tomorrow.


I have not long taken over as Leader and have no experience in talking to staff about things like this. This member of staff has been moody all week and I don't know how to approach the situation.


Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Many thanks

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First of all, welcome to the Forum and congratulations on making your first post.


If it was me, I'd do a bit of a reflection first on the situation before talking to the staff member. Did everyone know what was happening in the kitchen? Was there a sign on the door asking people to knock and wait to be invited in?


Then move on to thinking about the staff member - you say she has been moody all week. Is this something new and unusual for this staff member, or is it a recurring feature of her demeanour? Do you have other concerns about her general approach/team work/relationships with colleagues?


I think I'd make an appointment to see her at a mutually convenient time in order to talk about what happened. At that meeting, I'd explain that I wanted to talk about the incident and the way she behaved, and ask her to tell me what her views are and how she was feeling about it. At this point she might well backtrack and say now with hindsight she could have been a bit more discreet, or she might well offer an excuse/reason - she didn't know what was happening in the kitchen/had forgotten and was embarrassed when she marched in and found you all sitting there. She might not see anything wrong with how she behaved in which case you'll need to state clearly why it was inappropriate, and telling her how you expect her to behave in similar situations in future.


She might also talk to you about what is making her unhappy at present in which case you need to be ready to offer support, whilst making her see that her behaviour impacts on others and as such you expect a level of professionalism from her when she is working.


Of course, this supposes that the incident is sufficiently serious enough for this formal approach - for some employees/employers it might be enough to mention it casually if you think your message will be heard and understood. Sometimes it is easy to make a mountain out of a molehill and make matters worse.


The difficulty comes in deciding which approach to take, based on your knowledge and relationship with the employee!


Good luck - let us know how it goes!

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Good advice from Maz as usual.


Do you know what the personnel officer expects you to say? Are you expected to keep a record of the conversation?


This has clearly been addressed by the personnel officer already so I would probably approach it from the angle of being concerned that she is experiencing some sort of difficulty and a desire to offer support. I can't see how challenging her about it a second time will help.


There are many different levels of being moody and you can hide it or express it around different people. If she's been moody with you but nobody else you can offer support and a listening ear. If this moodiness has had an effect on other staff members or the children you probably need to explain that, whatever her problems, she still needs to behave professionally.


It isn't that you are recruiting for a job she feels she should be offered is it?

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Thank you for your replies.


I have asked my personnel officer to email me exactly what happened from her point of view as I feel I can't do anything without the facts.


The job is for another assistant which she is at the moment and they all understand we need another member of staff so she shouldn't feel threatened by her. I know she has just sold her house and they will be moving soon but also feel that any problems outside of pre-school should be left at the door.


I will let you know how I get on.


Again, many thanks for the replies.

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Sorry it's taken me so long to come back. Trying to get assignment finished for EYFD as well as everything else.


Well, I spoke to her the next morning and she told me that the way the personnel officer spoke to her afterwards humiliated her and made her very angry. She told me she did knock to come in and we should realise that as we were in a working environment we should have expected interruptions. She told the personnel officer that if she didn't want to be interrupted the interview should have been held elsewhere. I agree with everything she said and find this a problem with a committee run pre-school as they don't realise we are not in an office with interview rooms but a village hall pre-school trying to get things done. As we all know, best laid plans and all that.


She also told me that she has sold her house so things are a bit hectic at the moment so this accounts for some of her moodiness as she has a lot on her mind. I have asked her to try and leave it at the front door but we shall see.


Thank you for your replies, they helped me make sense of the situation and confirm what I had to do. Sometimes, just telling somebody helps. :)

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It sounds like you've handled it really well and you've also let her know that her moodiness is on the radar without causing a major upset. Well done.


I agree with all of the above however...I work sometimes in an establishment where the office doubles as the staff room...on at least two occassions I have arrived from an earlier job to this second place of work giving me a very brief break during which to eat and have something to drink (in this second environment I am not allowed to eat or drink outside of the staff room due to health & safety etc etc)...only to find an interview/meeting etc in the "office" and staff being excluded from being able to access cups/milk/lunches/phones etc. The full timers resort to eating their lunches in their cars whilst those of us who walk are left (I kid you not) trying to throw a sandwich down our throats in the craft cupboard!....so if this was the only opportunity that your staff have to access their entitlement to a break etc in a similar way I CAN see why they would be a bit peeved....not that Im saying they have a right to be rude etc but sometimes we also need to examine the other side of the fences perspective. If you have been holding a whole string of interviews and inconveniencing staff who are tired/hungry/thirsty regularly over the last few weeks then maybe they have just snapped? :o

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