Should I Report My Co-worker’s Crazy?

Question:

I work with a woman who seems to be bi-polar and very dangerous. She causes lots of trouble at work with lying, etc. Our boss, even after being warned about her, seems to really like her and doesn’t see the craziness. My others and I think she could be a real danger to us. She exhibits irrational behavior and has frequent outbursts. Should I go to my boss and talk to him about this or would it just make me look petty or crazy?

Signed,

Petty or Crazy


Answer:

Dear Petty or Crazy:

You don’t describe what you mean by dangerous; therefore, I must take your general statement as a description of how you feel when your coworker has what you say are frequent irrational outbursts and lies. Yes, you should speak with your boss about behavior that you feel endangers you, others, or your workplace. Before you do, however, make notes of who is involved, what, when (of each time & date), where, and possible triggering causes of such incidents that you feel/think call for action on the part of management. Take the time to note specifically what was said to whom and who observed the outbursts, lies, and/or dangerous behavior.

Your e-mail says you boss has been warned about this person but he does not see her craziness. Making such an account of what occurred will give you and your boss information that will help him and you evaluate whether certain behavior of this coworker is simply annoying or has already or might hurt others or herself physically and/or emotionally. Also be explicit about what of her behavior has or might damage the product and service of your department and work organization. Consider that the real concern of management is two-fold: that no harm be done and that internal and external customers are satisfied and hopefully delighted with your workplace.

In your meeting with your boss, speak in terms of these two-fold concerns, not that you think your co-worker is bipolar crazy. Have you thought through what you would do if you were boss? Counsel this person, set forth guidelines about how she should and should not express herself, be sent to psychological evaluation, or be placed on a graduated program of shape up or ship out? You are not the boss so you do not have to prescribe a remedy, but it will be helpful if you put yourself in your boss’s shoes. Do you have a department of Human Resources? If you do, your boss may elect to handle this matter and/or seek the involvement of HR. This would be wise if indeed that coworker exhibits psychological problems as you say she does.

Now should you speak with this person about her behavior that you think is out of place–about it being untrue and dangerous? Should you inform her that you are going to speak to your boss about her behavior? These are ethical and practical matters: Ethical in that you must ask yourself if you were she would you want a coworker to talk about you to the boss without first speaking to you about what troubled you. And if someone were going to speak to your boss about you, would you appreciate at least to be told that he/she is going to do so? Practical in that if this individual has a short fuse, such a conversation could ignite rather than extinguish dangerous tendencies.

Also, you should consider how her behavior has involved you and affects you. If it has, what have you done to provoke it and to cope? Might it be a case in which you have not made it clear to this woman that she will not get her way by angry outbursts? Were you assertive, or did she, by her outbursts, cause you to comply with her? You should not have to walk on eggs or water to get along with a coworker.

When you meet with your boss, you should feel free to express your fear that this coworker’s erratic behavior is causing you. If in fact you are genuinely worried, you should be firm in stating that you value your job and are committed to your work organization but that you do not want to work under such conditions.

Are these thoughts helpful in answering your question: Should I go to my boss and talk to him about this or would it just make me look petty or crazy?

Your question, it seems to me, has a straightforward answer of Yes, you should. But as you can see from the above discussion you have a history and closeness to the situation that will enable you to weigh your own role in determining what is best for you to do. Will you let us know what action you take or don’t take and subsequently what, if anything has been done to deal with your coworker’s behavior that in the very least is worrisome and in the extreme can be dangerous.

Working together with hands, head and heart takes courage and action to create the spirit we call WEGO.

William Gorden