Disgruntled Coworker

Question:

My coworker is a contractor and was told his position was being terminated as of July 31, 2009. They told him that they opted to keep the money instead of filling his position. Prayer was rendered for him to keep his job. God answered this prayer and he gets to stay. However, he is very disgruntled and unhappy. He looks like he lost his best friend. He even went home early on Friday. Now he should be happy because he still has a job. What you we do in this situation?

Signed,

Feeling Down Too


Answer:

DearĀ Feeling Down Too:

Your coworker is a contractor who was told he would be fired; however, he was not. Although he should be happy he was not cut, he is disgruntled, and you can’t help but see that. The sad fact is that a disgruntled coworker can sour the work environment for those nearby. What can you do to change this?

It is good of you to care and hopefully you will not feel guilty because you have a job and others are unemployed or their jobs are at risk, such as this contract-coworker’s still might be. This doesn’t mean you need to toughen up and not feel empathy for those who are unemployed as this recession continues. But what if anything might you do as a coworker to help your despondent fellow worker? First I think you should realize that there are some things you can’t change and that even the small things you might do can be misunderstood or not be effective. 1. You might approach him directly, saying something like, “Don, I get the feeling that you really feel down. This is not like you. Are you still worried about your job?” Or you could more directly describe his behavior, “The past three days, you’ve been mopping and grumbling about how this place is managed? You might be bitter about the threat to cancel your contract, but they didn’t. However, if you come across as an unhappy camper, you probably will be told not to let the door hit your backside as you leave.” Of

course you will have to weigh if you have earned your right to speak with candor to Don. 2. An alternate is to approach him as you might someone who is depressed, saying, “Don, it might not be any of my business, but I have to work with you and I have the feeling that you are stressed and depressed. Am reading you accurately?” Then as a follow up, say, “There’s nothing to be ashamed about that. You are not the first to feel down for a week or more. Have you considered seeking a doctor or counselor? That has helped others.” 3. Yet another approach is to think of this contractor coworker and others in your work unit as members of a team that lacks spirit. Just being a cheerleader your self might help some, but that probably is not enough. It is not good to start rumors, but you would not be wrong to see that because of the threat to cut your fellow coworker that business is not good. So

informally and possibly formally something might be needed to spur your disgruntled coworker and others to see that all your jobs are at risk in this bad economy. In short, either your workplace must be profitable or else.

That or else might mean more will be laid off or the plant could be shut as have others. To be proactive, is good business. What if everyone would pretend for a month that they owned your company and acted accordingly? Answering that question could mean your work group would schedule skull sessions to brainstorm ways you could cut waste; wasted supplies, wasted processes, wasted duplication, wasted electricity, wasted water, wasted material and wasted time. Moreover, your workgroup could see itself as a mini-research and development team to initiate new processes and products.

I predict that if you could generate excitement of this sort, the byproduct would be contagious and spill over to your disgruntled coworker. And if it didn’t it would still be of value to your work unit. Do any of these approaches make sense or spark some ideas of your own? They are free so feel free to take or not take them. I’m signing off as I usually do with: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Is not thinking WEGO really what you want for your disgruntled coworker and your self? I will be interested to learn what you do or don’t do.

William Gorden