CRINGE | Employee bashes boss in email which gets sent to…the boss

Employee bashes boss in email which gets sent to…the boss

With all that has been going on this year – a global pandemic, a structural shift to remote-work first and a rapidly growing to-do list – HR could do without employee fallouts.

However, with increasing numbers of individuals feeling burnt out and it being very easy to misconstrue meaning via Zoom, Slack or Teams, it’s likely that cross words and antipathy to colleagues might set in.

Even letting off steam is likely to take place in a digital setting – with employees emailing or virtual messaging to explain how they’re stressed.

Which is exactly what one person did about their boss to a colleague. However, the message in which they vented about their manager to a work friend then got sent forward to the manager.

Enough to make anyone want to crawl into a hole. So, if HR gets wind of this, what should they do?

According to Johnny Taylor, President of Society for Human Resource Management, setting up a meeting between the dissenting parties is key.

He told USA Today, to get the colleagues to explain as fully as possible: “Explain the context of your email to give your boss an opportunity to understand what caused the original frustration.

“However, be careful not to make excuses for your behaviour. I can’t say because I don’t know what you said, but it would also probably be wise to apologise (assuming you feel genuine remorse or regret for what you said). They may just be words – but words have power.”

Taylor also explains that the ‘middle man’ colleague should also be looped into the chat.

“Share that the email was intended as confidential and try to figure out what made her forward your email. And, just like your conversation with your manager, keep the conversation with your colleague collegial," he added. 

Power of venting

However, it’s not likely that gossip, or venting, should be cracked down on it and of itself.

As Claudine Robson, Managing Director at Full Spectrum HR Consulting, previously told HR Grapevine, this behaviour is a necessary stress reliever.

She said: “A quick chat with a colleague to offload stress or frustration is all you need in order to deal with the problem at hand.

“It’s not always necessary to report an issue to your line manager but talking it through with someone else in your team provides you with perspective and, more often than not, a solution.”

Email furore

As expected, this isn’t the first time that an email has ended up in the hands of the wrong person.

HR Grapevine recently reported on one recruitment professional who was left red faced after emailing a new recruit with an insulting description.

According to the Daily Mail, Karl McCartney had applied for a job at Drive2Recruit and was told over a telephone interview that he would shortly receive a starter pack of forms to fill in over email.

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The interviewer went on to send an email to McCartney, who he intended to send to a colleague, calling him a ‘chav’.

This incident highlights the importance of professionalism in a work environment, particularly when it comes to recruitment.

With competition fierce to secure job roles, to receive an insult from a hiring manager will likely knock an individual’s confidence and impact their wellbeing while unemployed.



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