Charlie Sheen And The Impact Of Employee Behavior On The Business

By Darrin Tonsfeldt
The Village Business Institute

Reports on Charlie Sheen’s seemingly outlandish life seem to be everywhere. So what do you think—is Charlie a mad genius or just mad? Whatever your opinion about Charlie, his behavior does point to an issue employers have to deal with on occasion—the issue of an employee who embarrasses or undermines the integrity of the company brand.

Based on his media interviews, Charlie seems to be glad to be who he is—and if you do not like his lavish, libidinous lifestyle, “the hell with you.” Do you think his employer, CBS, did the right thing in firing Charlie from the show (a show about a man with a lavish, libidinous lifestyle?) Shutting him out because he actually lives the part seems to be a contradiction—though would you want an actor who is playing an ax murder to actually be one?

In the real world, not Charlie’s, it is generally understood you do not go out of your way to make your employer look the fool. As the old saying goes, “Not even dogs defecate where they eat.”

Most employers understand their employees will be frustrated occasionally and may say something negative about their employer. If the comment is not overly egregious or does not threaten harm, a conversation between the employee and supervisor is typically all that is needed. In a case where an employee wantonly and knowingly denigrates his or her employer through words and/or actions, a stronger management response is required.

One of our client companies had to terminate an employee after he showed up drunk at a conference. The employee had a history of addiction issues and the employer had accommodated him through changes in schedules and intermittent leave to go to treatment. Despite all those efforts, the employee showed up at a conference representing the company, wearing company apparel and name badge, and proceeded to get plastered. His obnoxious behavior was quickly relayed to his employer by the conference host. In order to stave off further damage to their reputation, the employer, a family-oriented business, had little choice but to terminate the employee.

Why is this important? Well…because no matter if you are an owner or employee, people who are or could be customers, will evaluate you by your behavior, not your intentions. It is not about being a prude or not having fun; quite the contrary, most folks like being around people having a genuinely good time. Though if they see you treating someone, including yourself, badly and they know where you work, the chances of that potential customer having negative feelings about your employer are pretty strong.

Some may say that what you do outside of work is none of your employer’s business. I disagree and believe we all have a responsibility to represent our employers well. While you or I won’t get widespread press coverage like Charlie Sheen, our actions will be noticed and can impact on our employer’s reputation.

About the blogger
Darrin Tonsfeldt has a background of program administration, employee supervision, and clinical experience, as well as 20 years of experience in organization consulting and planning. He provides oversight of The Village Business Institute, Regional Counseling Services, and Financial Resource Center programs. He also provides consulting services that include strategic planning; career, leadership, management, and executive coaching; corporate training and group facilitation; crisis response in the workplace; and organizational consulting.

4 Responses

  1. Dawn jones

    I kniow I will not watch the movie Two and a Half Men anymore,, I used to think it was funny since Sheen was an actor who was rather obnoxious, but funny.. After seeing his interview on TV, and seeing how stupid, inconsiderate, totally bipolar he blew this all off, I will not be watching any of his movies.. How can one raise children with that sort of attitude.. If this is what money does to people then GOD help us all.., There is not one person in this world that is worth the amount of money that he is being paid , just for acting stupid. no more Charlie for me…

  2. The company I work for has a centralized corporate location, with a substantial number of outlying offices, spread throughout several states. The offices I manage are in two communities – one being in a very small town, population just around 5,000, the other in a relatively small city, population around 15,000. I live in the smaller town, and even though small town living is not new to me, I still find myself surprised by how many people know who I am and where I work. My kids tell me of people they interact with, who will say to them; “oh, yeah – I’ve heard of your mom – she’s works at ‘Company XYZ’, right?” It’s those moments that I find myself thankful that I don’t spend a lot of time out, socializing at the local hang outs… because the rumor mill in such a small community would certainly damage the reputations of both myself and the company that employs me. I’m always mindful of how I present myself when at work, or at the grocery store – I have to be.

    I have also had to have conversations with employees – due to rumor mills that grow out of a couple of weekends of “fun”. The consequences of behavior effects credibility on the job, with both associates and clients. Difficult and uncomfortable conversations, yes – but necessary nonetheless.

    Another interesting aspect to this topic: company parties. I find myself quite reluctant to spend more than a “polite” amount of time at these types of functions. For me, it is difficult to continue to respect counterparts, and higher ups (and even entry level employees) who get drunk and stupid at a company function… so I avoid that difficulty altogether by leaving the event as soon as possible… before the stupidity begins to set in. Stay just long enough to participate in the employment-related activities, leave before the open bar contributes to behavior that leaves people feeling embarrassed the next morning. I do better work, and have higher job satisfaction when I have respect for those I work with…and for…

    Re; Charlie Sheen – I’m embarrassed for him – watching his life and mental health unravel… a public spectacle of such epic proportion. It’s sad, more than anything.

  3. I have had my share of embarrassing moments with employees. On larger jobs we sometimes have to use temporary help. On general labor you cannot always get the best and the brightest, but some of the antics make for great stories.

  4. Darrin Tonsfeldt

    I agree it is not easy to watch Charlie right now, for a number of reasons. Thank you for the comments.

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