Letting “Bad” Behaviour Slide

Sometimes employees do things they aren’t supposed to, but you want to quietly cheer them on anyway. I’ve had a few of those experiences over the years. In a call centre you often send emails “to the floor”, meaning to every person who works in that particular business unit. Sending these emails is generally done only by the management team when they need to disseminate information.

In all of my call centres, there were always a few employees who forgot this, and used the call centre emails for their own rants or to try selling something. I’ve seen people send religious thoughts to the floor and try to sell their used barbecues. People never learn.

At my last call centre, classy place, we had a problem with lunches being stolen out of our communal refrigerators. I guess some people were too cheap to bring their own. I lost my own lunch twice. The second time the culprit also took my Winnie the Pooh lunch bag. (Yes, I am a grown woman with Winnie the Pooh gear. It was a gift from my mother.) I happen to really like Pooh, so I was steamed. I started keeping my lunch at my desk with an ice pack after that.

Anyway, when this would happen the unlucky lunch loser would often send a nasty email to the entire floor, something along the lines of “Thanks for stealing my lunch, jerk face.”

While I sympathized, we couldn’t just let staff run amok with mean emails. However, one of my employees, who I’ll call Maria, sent a more ingenious message after losing her lunch one day. The email said:

“To whoever stole my carrots today, I hope you really enjoyed them. I licked each and every one when I put them in the bag.”

I snorted tea through my nose when I read that one. I didn’t publicly applaud Maria’s email, but I didn’t chastise her for it either. The lunch snatching was getting worse, and we couldn’t figure out a way to catch the culprit(s). Everyone is always in and out of the fridges. How do you determine what belongs to whom? It does nothing for morale when you can’t trust your coworkers not to steal from you.

Everyone got a kick out of Maria’s email. Not sure what the thief thought. So I decided to let the etiquette breach slide. Not sure what other managers would have done, but I’m glad I left it alone.

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