Q. I've hired a recent graduate and his interminable enthusiasm is irritating me. He gets into the office before I arrive (at eight) and insists on remaining past seven. We pay him a pittance, and I honestly don't know what he's doing because the work I give him could be done quite easily. I admire his commitment but his constant demands for more work are becoming onerous. What do I do?
Jeremy says: He probably needs a bit of sympathetic guidance. He's got it into his head, perhaps from those toxic television programmes, that career advancement is best achieved through blatant self-promotion, a high personal profile and perpetual eagerness. On the assumption that he's capable of greater sense than this, and that you weren't altogether misguided in hiring him in the first place (I bet he 'interviewed well'), you should give him a gentle lesson in corporate behaviour: preferably off the premises and with a glass of wine in your hands.
If you were right to hire him, he'll respond immediately. Just make sure he has enough to do and that it's demanding enough to test his real abilities. He'll almost certainly become a valued member of your staff with a promising future. But if he claims to understand what you were saying but in no way changes his behaviour, speak to him along the same lines just once more; and if that doesn't work, cut your losses. Don't persevere simply because you're reluctant to admit to having made a mistake.
Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office? is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.