I’m pretty sure everyone has had that moment of – “I’m going to tell you what I really think of you and this job” when it comes to being in the workplace and getting frustrated at either a workplace situation or colleague. Normally most people either resolve their problem amicability or manage to hold their tongue, but every once in a while it seems that people can snap and all hell breaks loose (just look at the incident in the cinema recently where I guy got shot and killed for sending an SMS to a babysitter – not a workplace incident, but still…).
Having only been in the workforce for the last 10 years or so, I haven’t seen too many of these workplace meltdowns. However, last week I was in a meeting at work when a colleague started to lose the plot in front of around 50-80 other people. He was expressing concerns over the way in which a recent restructure that the company was undergoing had been run. At first his line of questioning was reasonably legitimate, however, things escalated fairly quickly when the response he received from management obviously was not to his liking.
The entire room sat there in amazement when this member of staff went on a tirade accusing everyone from the CEO, upper management and HR of collusion, unfairness and a lack of transparency on the whole restructure process. The accusations and responses from management went on for about a full 5 to 7 minutes before the meeting was abruptly brought to an end almost 20 minutes early.
Needless to say – the conversation over the event was on everyone’s lips for the remainder of the afternoon with many people agreeing with his statements and many others simply content to sit by and listen to idle speculation. Eventually an email came around from the staff member apologising to the management and staff for their outburst.
Unfortunately for this staff member, the die has now well and truly been cast. What has been said cannot be unsaid after the fact, and that is the point I think we should all remember. Regardless of how right or wrong his accusations may have been, there is a time and a place to note concerns, and in some instances – things are best left kept to yourself. Having a meltdown is most likely not something that this person had planned, but rather a result of a build up of a number of different emotions where the proverbial straw broke the camels back.
This type of situation should never occur, and management should have realised that there was a high level of dissatisfaction and low morale among the staff and should have been actively addressing these concerns well before someone blows a gasket. Interestingly enough though, I feel the message may still have fallen on deaf ears, as rather than trying to placate the individual, comments like “You are talking about things that you don’t understand” and “You are looking foolish” were hurled back, simply aggravating the situation. I overheard many people supporting the outburst and wouldn’t be surprised if there were more like it soon.
My advice to anyone thinking of stirring the pot, or someone who finds themselves starting to lose control of their emotions in a similar situation – is to just stop and take a few big deep breaths. If you are pressed to continue simply state that you will take the matter up later. Having a mud slinging match is to no ones benefit and you can better collect your thoughts and feelings on a topic when you have had time to think a matter over.
Have you had a meltdown or seen someone else have one? Would you get involved, take it off line or just stay out of it all together?