Insanity in the workplace, be it an office, the United Nations in Geneva, fire stations, sweat shops, university faculties or law firms is a well-kept secret.
It is disguised under the term teamwork. Every worker is crazy one way or the other, despite human resources manuals that are supposed to be a guide to healthy working relationships.
Insane co-workers are responsible for people opting for early retirement; resigning to take jobs in Dubai or Dublin; disciplinary actions to solve problems; calling women names or old school fist fights.
Resignations are not the solution because co-workers are crazy in every workplace from Helsinki to Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro to Canberra. Managers are supposed to manage the insanity, but they seldom do. They prefer the easy route, which is avoiding visibly insane employees.
No. No. Let her do it. You know she's crazy.
Visibly insane, because there are different levels of insanity. One half is obvious to co-workers and customers. The other half flies under the radar, undetected.
Self preservation. How do you protect yourself (and your own underground insanity) from all this madness?
Identify The Insanity
The first item on the agenda is observing your immediate co-workers and identify the reason for the insanity.
Housekeepers: Housekeepers cannot stand an empty paper tray for the photocopying machine. They completely lose it. They do not understand how some people will not fill up the tray after running 15 copies of their sales pitch presentation.
It’s not a matter of going to a storeroom because bundles of photocopying paper are right there, sitting on a nice table.
Question: Why not e-mail the presentation?
Answer: Because nobody opens attachments.
Housekeepers notice many things. They used to freak out about the empty coffee pot, despite the notice that the person who had the last cup, should change the filter and make a fresh pot.
The coffee pot is gone because the whole office troops to Second Cup, Starbucks or Tim Hortons three times a day now.
You need a strategy for neutralizing a co-worker’s insanity if it affects your performance. You could become a housekeeper yourself if someone has housekeeping traits. For example:
- · always return the washroom key to its designated place;
- · always print out shipping labels (your handwriting is atrocious);
- · don’t bring your cellphone to meetings at all (activating vibration is not an option)
These are just examples. You want peace on the job, so understand your co-worker’s insanity and minimise it. You are not stupid. Just smart.
Parrots are dangerous because they are ambitious. Their mission and vision is to please managers and always begin sentences with: ‘As you said in our last meeting …….’
They drive everybody crazy because they always refer to what BJ, TT, MO, MMM (managers’ initials) wants or doesn’t want.
Nobody is immune to parrots’ insanity because they might repeat factual or imagined statements about you. Therefore, it is important to be vigilant and monitor what they say.
- Parrots are on a non-stop flight to top management so humour them. Quoting the boss is their insanity, so follow-up and ask them to explain some aspects of company policy.
- What is sad is that parrots are so busy sweetening up the boss, they forget to develop their skills and gifts. It is like giving a hacker your bank password, because these are dangerous times and companies continue to chop off middle management to stay in business. If you a teacher’s pet, you might be out in the cold with him, when he is downsized (a fascinating word).
- Use diplomacy to help parrots develop what they are good at, something that will advance their career or start their own business.
- Take them to industrial shows or the local university to hear visiting speakers from faraway countries. Anything, to reduce the insanity, and fast track their inner potential.
Workers who are clued up when it comes to technology will never regard themselves as insane, and therefore a danger to society, workplace society.
They believe that they are fountains of knowledge, updating outdated managers of what is happening in the technology scene.
They are in fact insane if they lose track of their job descriptions and regularly give presentations designed to show how ignorant the rest of the company is about robots reading television news and Silicon Valley take-overs.
We won't provide a possible solution here. Devise a strategy to tone down the insanity. You can do it. You live with the insanity five days a week, you know the nature of the beast.
Haters are very vocal about what they hate about their jobs. That is why they are regarded as the super insane. They are not. They just don’t care how they voice their opinions. What is most frustrating is that they do not have a Plan B or are not good enough to resign and go to where the grass is greener.
- Listen and learn. The hating insanity is the last option, caused by a multitude of factors including betrayal, when workers feel the company failed them when it was time for promotions, because the boss groomed somebody from his own former country or promoted a girlfriend.
- There is no fair play at work. Employees have seen some co-workers openly going to beauty salons on company time but others given a hard time when they are fifteen minutes late.
- There are reasons for hating. All you can do is to understand them, but the ball is in the haters' court. They must deal with it, before it erodes them mentally and spiritually.
The home situation is also largely responsible for the insanity at work. We cannot wait to wake up in the morning, have a shower, put on some work clothes and run away from home. Unfortunately, breastfeeding women do not have that option.
Domestic problems do not have the same weight. Some can be measured on a bathroom scale, whereas others are too heavy for that and need an airport scale where we weigh unaccompanied luggage.
Mobile phones are also to blame. We cannot leave domestic problems behind, because they follow us via text messages, missed calls or Facebook, when the love is gone, gone, gone.
There are many things at work that could trigger the thought of an unhappy home. It could be someone’s hair cut, clothes, skin colour, disrespect, and guess what? Happiness. We might resent people who are loved and cherished.
Unfortunately, co-workers cannot help each other if the insanity is caused by misery at home such as infidelity, in-laws, domestic violence, unruly kids or bankruptcy. These are heavy issues that need professional counselling.