Charlie Sheen's Career: What Not to Do
Consider this scenario: For several years, actor Charlie Sheen has been accused of drug-fueled rages, physical abuse against two spouses resulting in many trips to hospitals and rehab, all while continuing to work. So, what did it take for this well-paid star to finally lose his job? He disrespected his boss.
Using terms like "contaminated little maggot," "clown" and "charlatan," Sheen revealed his adversarial working relationship with Chuck Lorre, creator of the very popular TV sitcom 'Two and a Half Men.'
"Employees need to understand there are ramifications for their actions, sometimes even when those actions occur outside of the workplace. In Charlie Sheen's situation, he needs to understand his boss is committing millions of dollars to a project, and Sheen is the face of that project," comments author and career coach Mike Patterson.
The final straw
But, while Sheen's bosses, CBS and Warner Bros. Television, previously turned a blind eye to his off-set behavior, they canceled the rest of the season of their hit show after the scathing attack on Lorre. Why the double-standard? Because he went public. In a big way. No media outlet was left unturned -- radio, television, satellite radio (Howard Stern), even Twitter, which Sheen joined on Tuesday. In the first hour alone after he signed up, he had 200,000 followers.
"Obviously, most employees do not have the clout to take their grievances to 'Good Morning America' or the 'Today' show, but Charlie Sheen handled it wrong," Patterson continued. " He tried to give his bosses an ultimatum. In my 20-plus years in the corporate world, I've learned ultimatums usually end poorly for all involved."
In this case, Sheen not only finds himself unemployed, so do more than a hundred other people who worked on the show. Although the average worker has trouble feeling any sympathy for Sheen, (after all, this is the man who makes nearly $2 million an episode, the equivalent of one week's work,) almost everyone identifies with the "boss-employee" conflict.
Ask any worker off the record to comment on their hard-to-please or just plain mean boss, and you will unleash a litany of pent-up anger and hurt. Many will seethe at work, then go home and punch holes in the walls or find some other way of dealing with the stress. Others will quit which, with unemployment hovering around nine percent, is counter-productive.
What TO do
Instead, Patterson suggests the following:
Follow the chain of command
In the business world, going over your boss's head, especially when you never attempted to discuss the matter with your boss in the first place, can be a bad idea. You run the risk of alienating your boss. As Sheen found out, it could damage a relationship beyond repair.
Effective communication is a two-way street. Employees should feel comfortable talking to their bosses if there is a problem in the workplace. Managers should encourage their employees to discuss issues at work. Conversations should be handled openly, honestly, and discreetly.
Enlist the human resources department
If you find yourself in a no-win situation after speaking to your boss, contact HR and ask them what options for recourse you might have. Most will offer to act as mediators between you and your boss. Should your problem have to do with a pay raise like Sheen's, (he has demanded a doubling of his salary to return to the show next season) here's what you need to do:
Make sure you have your facts and supporting documentation lined up before you have the discussion. Your manager may be able to adjust your salary if you are underpaid, but be realistic. In today's tough economy, there are plenty of out-of work individuals willing to perform your job at your current salary. That is a fact of the times -- a fact that may be Charlie Sheen's problem as well. There have been unconfirmed reports in the media that actor John Stamos is being considered as his replacement.
So what's the bottom line? As Patterson says, "if you have issues with your boss or current work situation, my best advice is Charlie Sheen should NOT be your role model!"
Next: How Would You Deal with Charlie Sheen (and Other Problem Employees)?
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