Have you ever had a Charlie Sheen at your office?

For the past couple of weeks, it's been hard to escape the craziness surrounding/created by Charlie Sheen. It seems he's given "exclusive" interviews to every major network news show. He says he's sober, but it's pretty clear that something's just not right.

That said, between his rants about "tiger blood" and "winning," he's made some good points about how he is the star of the biggest show on TV, bringing in millions for CBS. To hear Charlie tell it, he may have missed "practice," but when it was time to film, he was always there, hitting his lines. Despite his star power, CBS officially fired him yesterday.

If you need to catch up on the story, [URL="http://on.wsj.com/eMlMNX"]click here to read about it in the Wall Street Journal[/URL] or [URL="http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/07/charlie-sheen-fired-from-two-and-a-half-men/?scp=2&sq=charlie sheen&st=cse"]click here read about it in the New York Times[/URL].

My question is this: Have you ever had to deal with a Charlie Sheen at your workplace? A superstar employee with a terrible (or erratic) attitude? A great salesman who thought the rules didn't apply to him b/c he made lots of money for the company?


  • 21 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • What about you Celeste? Anyone at your workplace remind you of Charlie? :)
  • I think I heard them talking about Tony that way. Is Tony a Charlie, Celeste?
  • Ha! I hate to break it to you, but Tony is not like Charlie (two completely different kinds of winning).
  • That would explain all the references I happen to overhear from time to time about "Two and a Half HR Heroes."

    OK, people, you're dodging Celeste's great question. Fess up!

    :back to topic:
  • I was just hoping Tony isn't the "Half".
  • I think I may be the closest thing to Charlie Sheen that our company has ever had.

    There. Happy now, Celeste?
  • I think we may have all seen 'stars' who believe they are the reason for the company's success, and I have seen some employees get away with a LOT. However, times have changed and it is too easy to sue. In any case, I have never seen anyone out there the way Charlie is.
  • I think it comes down to control. There are "stars" in organizations who misbehave but they can control it. I don't believe Charlie Sheen is in control of his behavior any longer.

    Any employee, regardless of whether they are a "star" who has lost control of their behavior is a liability in my opinion. Keeping them is at best a calculated risk.
  • I guess it is a bit far-fetched to think any of you may have encountered someone as out there as Charlie.

    As an employee who has never worked in the HR department or as a manager or supervisor, I do wonder how you deal with the difficult "star" employees (like Paul and Nae mention). Certainly, I've had coworkers that were really good at what they did so they sort of made their own rules.

    In fact, a coworker/friend from a former job who fit that bill was recently fired after about 10 years of openly defying, talking back to, and bad mouthing his manager. When I was there 6 years ago, it was tense, but everyone knew that my friend would get away with these things because the manager would have been hard-pressed to find someone who could take his place and, in the end, having my friend on staff made the manager look good to the higher ups (even though it really lead to most of his staff losing respect for him).

    How do you counsel your managers and supervisors to handle star employees who don't necessarily do anything illegal, produce lots of good work, but just have a terrible attitude?
  • It's tough. I've both supervised and been HR over these types of employees. I usually counsel the managers not to give up trying to hold them accountable even if it is time-consuming and frustrating. Not to do so sends the message to other employees that the rules don't really matter and makes thenm hard to enforce for anyone. Sometimes these star workers eventually get tired of being spoken to all the time and make some stab at playing by the rules just to get you off their back. Sometimes they step over the line one too many times with the wrong person and do get themselves fired.
  • I think it depends on the behavior of the "star".

    Quirky behavior? Sure.
    A sloppy desk. Sure.
    Late with some reports. No problem.
    Forgets receipts for expense reports? OK.

    Open defiance. Absolutely not. That just cant be a negotiable in my opinion.
  • I don't know, Paul. It can be very annoying to have everyone held accountable for being on time with reports and turning in receipts except for the star. I have been the clerk who processed those and knew the star was getting away with it. I lost all respect for management. If I had been the type to stir the pot, it wouldn't have taken much to get other employees upset and on the bandwagon.

    Quirky behavior and sloppy desk I agree with. I would be a hypocrite not to. :o
  • Hmmm... so behavior that you could apply to you is OK? :)

    In all seriousness, you do have to consider a few things:

    1. Can you mitigate the "stars" faults? Ex. assign some extra administrative help
    2. Whats the downside to allowing for this behavior?

    We had a young lady on our staff who was very.. unique. As a worker she was just average. As a person she was incredible. Caring, thoughtful, sensitive. She almost seemed from another planet. She had no guile.

    Sometimes she would do odd stuff or underperform but it was never because of effort or attitude. She was just... different. I liked to say (within our HR dept) she was royalty from another planet just visiting ours. So I made a few allowances for her.

    Special treatment? Sure. My motto is: everyone gets special treatment.
  • In the situation I referred to the 'star' felt he should have allowances made because of the business he brought in. He didn't like to submit expense reports, so he didn't do them until the day he wanted to be reimbursed. Then, if he could not be accomodated by being paid immediately, he threw a fit, reminding us of who he was and his total sales.

    Sometimes people are really too busy working on something for the organization to meet deadlines, especially if the deadlines are somewhat arbitrary. We should always try to be flexible for the odd unexpected case. However, getting special treatment on a regular basis while others are forced to tow the line is not fair. Being really good at bringing in business is not an excuse. In fact, those people should set the standard for others to live up to (not down to).
  • Would it have been less of an issue in your mind to accommodate his late reports if he hadn't been such a jerk when he wanted to be reimbursed?
  • It would have been less an issue in my mind if it wasn't a case of him [I]continually expecting [/I] (and receiving) special treatment because he was top salesperson. Everyone has trouble making deadlines or completing expense reports on time once in a while. I have no problem accomodating the occassional issue, and it is even easier when they realize they are putting you to extra trouble and acknowledge it. When they decide that the problems they cause the 'little people' are insignificant compared to the fact that they are top dog and don't feel like doing it today it becomes something else.

    Even if someone smiles and says they are sorry to put you to extra work, it can still be an issue if it is the same story for every report. They don't have to be an obvious jerk to still expect special treatment and lose my respect.

    Keep in mind that I am talking about people who think they deserve special treatment because they are the 'star.' Some people are just different, and a good manager will make the most of their idiosyncracies. Having said that, if I had an employee, star or not, who needed help in a specific area (like some kind of administrative help) I would do my best to provide it. But not holding someone to standards because they simply want to throw their weight around is not acceptable.
  • Charlie Sheen has now filed a lawsuit against his (now former) employers. See [URL="http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/charlie_sheens_lawsuit_isnt_all_talk_it_has_been_filed_it_seeks_100m_and_it?utm_source=maestro&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_email"]http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/charlie_sheens_lawsuit_isnt_all_talk_it_has_been_filed_it_seeks_100m_and_it?utm_source=maestro&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_email[/URL].

    It's pretty interesting that according to the ABA article, the lawsuit mentions an "alleged" disability.

    Also, on a side note, it always makes me smile when TMZ posts legal documents.
  • In this week's Oswald Letter ([URL="http://blogs.hrhero.com/oswaldletters/2011/03/11/wild-thing-i-think-i-loathe-you/"]"Wild Thing, I Think I Loathe You"[/URL]), Dan shared a column by California Employment Law Letter editor Mark Schickman, who does a good job of looking at the situation from an employment law point of view. He ends the article with:

    [INDENT]As "Hollywood" as this story is, there are lessons here for all. First, if you permit a long period of misconduct, it's hard to correct it later, so be consistent and timely. Second, if you publicly spat with an employee (as Lorre did with Sheen), it's hard to be punitive if the abuse is returned; indeed, some of Sheen's comments about Lorre might be protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)! Third, unless you want to be sued for disability discrimination, don't throw around words like "bipolar" or "nuts."

    [/INDENT]It's odd to me to think of the $2 mil-an-episode Sheen who is infamous for his bad boy behavior as a protected individual under the ADAAA, NLRA, and other employment laws.
  • My son asked me if I had heard how many drugs they found in Charlie Sheen at his last test. I responded, no I have not heard anything about it. He said they found enough drugs to kill two and a half men.
    (sorry 'bout that)
  • Joke of the day, Dutch! I've retold it several times already!
  • I stole your joke Dutch, and put it on FB. It got a few chuckles. Thanks for sharing!
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