Can you imagine going to work, sitting at your desk and taking calls like this Monday would be like any other Monday and then getting an email that stops you cold?
That’s what happened yesterday when friends of mine were at work at a call center and they found out – via email – that one of their co-workers had passed away unexpectedly over the weekend. Some of them were doing their regular battle of multitasking between phone calls and emails when they discovered in mid-conversation that one of their peers had died. It was reported to me that the gasps were audible.
The woman that passed away was a bit older than most of the office and she was a quiet sort. A far cry from the youthful exuberance that can generally be found in call centers. She may not have been the most outspoken or even the most popular but she was definitely a friend to everyone. Just by the sheer amount of time the average person spends at work annually, every person with whom you work becomes a part of the fabric of your life.
Those shocked peers that contacted me yesterday by phone, email, and social networking were so surprised at the way they were notified that they were literally in a state of shock. Nary a month earlier a manager had to be let go because he had some issues with his work visa and they pulled the team together and informed them that he couldn’t return. Now this woman who worked faithfully in that office for over 2 years passes away and they send an email. Not even advance notification for her team or even those who sat in closest proximity to her. Those people who talked to me were all wondering if they would have notified people differently if she were a manager or more outspoken and popular.
In 2007, I was working for a division that had a co-worker commit suicide. As soon as his manager was notified he called in grief counselors and had managers stationed in their area ushering his peers into a separate meeting room where they were notified of his passing, allowed to grieve, express their emotions in private, and speak to someone if they needed.
How do you think a manager should handle the passing of a co-worker? Is an email enough to justify the passing of life?
Thank you, Mary, you were a wonderful woman!